Review: Turtle Reef by Jennifer Scoullar

 

Title: Turtle Reef

Author: Jennifer Scoullar

Published: Michael Joseph: Penguin March 2015

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from March 22 to 23, 2015 — I own a copy  {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Turtle Reef is Jennifer Scoullar’s fifth novel, and her fourth engaging contemporary regional romance.

City girl Zoe King is thrilled when she lands her dream job at a marine park and research center in Kiawa, a small town in northern Queensland, looking forward to working with the Reef Center’s impressively credentialed director, Bridget Macalister.
Though the job proves more demanding than she expected, Zoe quickly learns to embrace its challenges, impressed by Bridget’s dedication to the center and delighted by the aquarium’s residents, including their six rescue dolphins.
Its the findings from Zoe’s first research project, monitoring the local dugong population and mapping seagrass meadows, that alerts her to a problem not only with the reef, but also the operation of the marine center.

Conservation management and environmental protection is a major theme of this novel. Set in a small sugar cane community on the Queensland coast, Scoullar writes of the risks outdated cane farming practices poses to the coastal environment, the general threats to our fragile marine ecosystem as well as the desirability of rehabilitating wild creatures for return to their natural environment.

The intrigue in the novel is a touch slow to develop but I enjoyed the measured unraveling of secrets. The suspense is fairly low key for most of the novel but the danger Zoe faces when she comes too close to working out exactly what is going on came as a surprise, raising the tension considerably.

There is an unconventional romance for Zoe in Turtle Reef. Quinn Cooper is a fifth generation local cane farmer and a caring guardian of his brain injured younger brother, Josh. Zoe is attracted to his good looks and down to earth charm from their first meeting, but as Bridget’s long term boyfriend, Quinn is strictly off limits. I have to be honest, I found the relationship a little odd, though the chemistry is there, the circumstances are awkward.

The Reef Center is home to a half dozen rescue dolphins, given delightful personalities by Scoullar. I was charmed by Josh’s interactions with them and saddened by the way in which they were betrayed. I was surprised to learn how intelligent octopuses can be, and fell in love with Einstein.

Scoullar’s descriptions of the beauty of the reef and the ocean are highlights of the novel.
“All around them lay a tapestry….Brightly coloured parrot fish abounded and were utterly fearless. Zoe could hear the soft chomping of their beaks as the grazed on the branching coral gardens. Blue-spotted lagoon rays scooted past,… and a shovelnose shark, with its strange triangular snout.”

Turtle Reef is a lovely novel from a storyteller whose fiction evokes the romance of the Australian landscape, and the heart.

Available to purchase from

Penguin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I via Booko

Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

Also by Jennifer Scoullar

aww-badge-2015

Seasoned Traveller 2015

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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

Life…

 Another busy week has flown by. As the end of the first school term approaches, basketball for the boys is winding down with the finals to be played on Saturday, but soccer training has already started for the winter semester. Aleah’s first months of high school has gone smoothly with the teachers I met with this week singing her praises while she was enjoying her year 7 camp. Scouts and cubs also continue to keep us busy while Simariah is juggling a new job with training for her Gymnastics meet in Finland in August. My husband also has finally bought his own Archery bow which means he is disappearing to the range whenever he can.

 I have to be honest, I’ve struggled this week to find time to read and blog. One of the days I might actually get caught up… maybe some time tonight after basketball training, dinner, scouts and gym.

What I Read Last Week

The Secret Life of Luke Livingstone by Charity Norman

The Shut Eye by Belinda Bauer

A Time of Secrets by Deborah Burrows

Life and Death by Michael Robotham

The Umbrian Supper Club by Marlena de Blasi

New Posts

(click the titles to read my reviews)

Review:  The Secret Life of Luke Livingstone by Charity Norman ★★★★

Review: The Shut Eye by Belinda Bauer ★★

Review: A Time of Secrets by Deborah Burrows ★★★★

Review: Life and Death by Michael Robotham  ★★★★1/2

Weekend Cooking:  The Umbrian Supper Club by Marlena de Blasi ★★★★

Stuff On Sundays: Bookshelf Bounty

 What I Am Reading Today

Unlucky-in-love zoologist Zoe King has given up on men. Moving from Sydney to take up an exciting new role in marine science in the small sugar town of Kiawa is a welcome fresh start. Zoe is immediately charmed by the region’s beauty – by its rivers and rainforests, and by its vast cane fields, sweeping from the foothills down to the rocky coral coast. And also by its people – its farmers and fishermen, unhurried and down to earth, proud of their traditions. Her work at the Reef Centre provides all the passion she needs and Zoe finds a friend in Bridget, the centre’s director. The last thing she wants is to fall for her boss’s boyfriend, cane king Quinn Cooper, so she refuses to acknowledge the attraction between them – even to herself. But things aren’t quite adding up at the Reef Centre and when animals on the reef begin to sicken and die, Zoe’s personal and professional worlds collide. She faces a terrible choice. Will protecting the reef mean betraying the man she loves?

 What I Plan To Read This Week

(click the covers to view at Goodreads)

  I should have told. Julie’s right: I would have saved dozens of others. Jeff, Julie, Sam, the academy kids, the Huck Finn boys, everyone else was ignorant or greedy or scared or confused or overwhelmed by bullies, but I was strong enough—I could’ve pushed him away. I did push him away. I saved myself and let everyone else suffer. Me and the god of creation—we’re the villains of this story.  Brian and Jeff were best friends, growing up together in New York City in the late 1960s. Then something happened that drove a wedge between them, ending both their friendship and their childhood, something that neither ever spoke about . . . at least until their shared secret resurfaced some forty years later, forcing them to reunite and, along with Jeff’s cousin Julie, to face the consequences of their years of silence.

Atticus Craftsman never travels without a supply of Earl Grey and his five favourite books – so he makes sure he has packed both after his father, distinguished publisher of Craftsman & Co., sends him to Madrid to shut down a failing literary magazine, Librarte When nobody has heard from him in three months, his father knows something must be very wrong. Do not fear, Inspector Manchego is on the case. No, not the cheese. Manchego, as in the most valiant Don Quijote de la Mancha. Lacking a horse but with hapless derring-do, Manchego gets to work unravelling the mystery of the quintessential Englishman’s disappearance. But there to block him at every turn are the five fiery and closeknit Spanish women who run Librarte, and who’ll do anything to keep their jobs – even if it involves subterfuge, the long-lost poems of Federico García Lorca and a journey to the gypsy heart of Andalucía . . .

He was dismayed how readily he took to lying. He’d always thought of it as a decisive abandonment of the truth. Instead, he realised, it was simply a matter of one word slipping into the place of another.’ Dr Quinn Davidson and his wife Marianna have endured years of unsuccessful IVF and several miscarriages, and Quinn can’t face another painful attempt to conceive. Marianna is desperate to be a mother and their marriage is feeling the strain. At a small-town practice a few hours from their home, Quinn meets Rachel, the daughter of one of his patients. Drawn to each other, it’s not long before they find themselves in a passionate affair and Quinn realises he must choose between the two women. Then Marianna announces a surprise natural conception, news that will change the course of all their lives. Set in the lush Australian subtropics, this taut emotional drama poses questions about moral courage and accountability, and asks whether love means always telling the truth

Nurse Lauren Simpson is known in Hope Junction for the wrong reasons – and she’s over it. Watching the man she’s always loved marry someone else is the last straw – she decides to get out of Hope. But her resolve is tested when the hot new locum doctor arrives in town. Doctor Tom Lewis also has skeletons in his closet – including a painful breakup and devastating family news. He’s hit the road with his vintage ute and surfboard, to travel the outback and live in the moment. When Tom and Lauren meet the attraction is instant, but for Lauren Tom threatens to be just another fling and Tom has his own reasons for hesitating. Everyone else – their friends and patients – can see how perfect they are together, but just what will it take for them to admit this to themselves? A brand new Hope Junction story of fresh starts and second chances.

From a producer of Family Guy, a satirical look at a dysfunctional family complete with a stage mom, 9 year-old pageant queen, philandering husband, his girlfriend, and the crazy grandmother Miranda Miller’s mission in life is to make sure her nine-year-old daughter, Bailey, continues to be one of the most successful child pageant contestants in the southern United States. Lately, that mission’s been difficult. Bailey has been secretly binge eating to gain weight so Miranda will let her retire; and the reality show Miranda been trying to set up for Bailey (and herself) just went to their biggest rival, Starr Kennedy and her tyrannical stage mother, Theresa. But Miranda’s got an ace up her sleeve. She’s seven months pregnant with her fourth child, a girl, thank God, and Miranda is going to make damn sure that this one will be a pageant champion, too. Unbeknownst to her, Miranda’s husband Ray, a nurse with a hobby of popping random pills, has knocked up Courtney, the less than brilliant seventeen-year-old orphan granddaughter of one of his hospice patients. With a wife, a mistress, two jobs, three kids (and two more on the way), a mountain of debt, and no real friends, Ray is desperately hoping his life puts itself back in order. Meanwhile, the Millers’ two boys are being “homeschooled” by Miranda’s mother, Joan (pronounced Jo-Ann), a well-intentioned widow who spends most of her time playing solitaire and planning a murder with Jesus. Yes, that Jesus. They’re just your typical dysfunctional American family.

  ***********

Congratulations to the winners of She’s Having Her Baby:

Linda H; Jan O; Amanda N; Tash B; Kirsty A

Thanks for stopping by!

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 (electronic)

 

 

Bought/Won/Downloaded or otherwise acquired

 

 

Weekend Cooking: The Umbrian Supper Club by Marlena de Blasi

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 participating.

****

Title: The Umbrian Supper Club

Author: Marlena de Blasi

Published: Allen & Unwin March 2015

Status: Read from March 20 to 21, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

“A good supper…restores to us the small delights that the day ransacks. Through crisis and catastrophe, and rare moments of uninterrupted joy, it’s the round, clean and imperishable wisdom that sustains them: cook well, eat well and talk well with people who are significant to your life.”

Every Thursday night for decades a small group of Umbrian women, occasionally accompanied by the their husbands or lovers, have met in an old stone house belonging to Miranda to share their supper. Under sheaves of dried olive branches, seated on plank benches, they have laughed, cried, cooked and eaten together.

Befriended by Miranda, Marlena De Blasi, an American chef, journalist and food critic who has made her home in rural Orvieto, was invited to join the women, taking a place at the table every Thursday, delighting in both the food, and the stories each woman has to tell.

In The Umbrian Supper Club, Marlena shares what she learned of the lives of the four women members – Miranda, Ninuccia, Paolina and Gilda, as she joined with each in preparing Thursday night suppers over a period of four years.

The women’s stories are moving and fascinating, aged between 52 and 80 something, they have lived full lives. They have variously been wives, mothers, daughters, sisters and lovers, they have endured heartache, loss, poverty and celebrated love, friends, and food. They speak, as the gather, prepare and cook their supper of childhood, family, aging, sexuality, of the evil eye, the Mafia, religion, of life and death.

“‘I wish life could end all even, like a supper when there’s that last little roasted potato with a single needle of rosemary clinging to its crust and the end of a sausage, charred to a crunch, a heel of bread, the last long pull of wine. Even. Everything in harmony. I have always preferred that last bit of my supper to the first, the beginning being fraught with hunger, the last with serenity. As life should be. Every supper can be a whole life'”

Full of mouthwatering descriptions of food preparation and feasting, The Umbrian Supper Club will delight any foodie. Crusty bread freshly baked in a woodfire oven is dipped in oil pressed by a donkey driven mill, pasta is simmered in litres of local red wine, thyme leaves are stripped from their branches to flavour scored duck breasts.
Several full recipes of traditional Umbrian dishes, such as Zucca Arrostita and La Crostata di Pere e Pecorino adapted for the modern cook, are included, but plenty of cooking advice is informally dispensed through the pages.

“In a basket on the worktable there are perhaps a dozen heads of garlic, the purple colour of the cloves bright beneath papery skins. Slapping head after head with the flat of the cleaver, she scrapes the smashed, unpeeled cloves into a five-litre jug of new oil in which she’s earlier stuffed leaves of wild sage, wild fennel flowers, rosemary,a fistful of crushed, very hot chillies. She is building one of her famous potions. Violence, she calls it. She uses it to gloss vegetables before tumbling them into the roasting pan, to massage into loins of pork and the breasts and thighs of her own fat chickens, to drizzle over burning hot charcoaled beef and veal.”

The Umbrian Supper Club is a delightful true story of family, friendship and food.

Available to purchase from

Allen & Unwin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I via Booko

Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

Seasoned Traveller 2015

Review: Life or Death by Michael Robotham

 

Title: Life or Death

Author: Michael Robotham

Published: Mulholland Books March 2015

Status: Read on March 20, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Life or Death is Michael Robotham’s tenth novel, a rare stand alone from one of Australia’s favourite crime fiction author’s, best known for his O’Loughlin/Ruiz series.

Inspired by a real life news report, Robotham has built his story around the character of Audie Palmer who, after serving ten years in prison, escapes the day before his scheduled release. No one understands why Audie would run when he risks an extended sentence if caught, but it’s assumed that it has something to do with the unrecovered $7 million dollars stolen during the robbery he was convicted of committing.

It soon becomes obvious however that Audie isn’t motivated by money, hunted by the authorities and criminals alike, he is on a mission to save a life. Despite what Audie stands accused of, he quickly becomes such a likeable character, a victim of bad luck and worse luck, he demonstrates an enviable strength of character to rise above it all. He is the ultimate underdog, battling to do the right thing in the face of overwhelming odds.

Flashbacks provide the details of Audie’s back story, explaining his present predicament. The twists and turns of the plot are well executed, even if a touch predictable. I read Life or Death in a matter of hours, Robotham’s fluid writing, and tight pacing ensures this is a page turner.

An entertaining read with a great premise, appealing characters and a strong and satisfying ending, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Life or Death.

Available to Purchase From

Mulholland Books I Amazon US I BookDepository I IndieBound

Via Booko

AUS/UK cover

Review: A Time of Secrets by Deborah Burrows

 

Title: A Time of Secrets

Author: Deborah Burrows

Published: Pan Macmillan March 2015

Status: Read from March 18 to 19, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

A Time of Secrets is Deborah Burrows’ third wonderful novel blending Australia’s wartime history with mystery and romance.

While Burrows previous novels take place in Perth, A Time of Secrets is set in Melbourne in 1943. Australian Women’s Army sergeant Stella Aldridge is out shopping with her roommate and colleague, Dolly, when she overhears a whispered conversation in Malay between a group of Australian soldiers. Concerned with the implications she alerts her boss at the APLO, The Australian Pacific Liason Office, only to be drawn into a covert investigation headed by her superior officer, Lieutenant Nick Ross.

As Stella and her colleagues work to uncover the identity of the traitor sabotaging the Australian war effort they have to negotiate the politics of the APLO. I enjoyed the intrigue of the storyline and learning a little more about the war effort. In this, as in both of Burrows previous novels, A Stranger in My Street and Taking a Chance, Burrows’ brings to life the experiences and contribution of women during wartime in Australia.

A minor subplot focuses on Stella’s roommate Dolly, and the secrets she is keeping both from her fiance and Stella, while a second involves an axe wielding murderer stalking women in Melbourne. The theme of domestic violence is prominent in the novel. as is violence on the home front in general.

There is romance for Stella with the enigmatic soldier Staff Sergeant Eric Lund. A special operative, his life is at risk if the rumours of a traitor imbedded within the APLO are true. Stella’s attraction to Lund is complicated by his capability for violence, her first husband who was killed in action physically abused her, and she is wary. A sort of love triangle also develops as Ross, an unapologetic ladies man, makes his interest in Stella clear.

Burrow’s is a talented storyteller who brings wartime Australia to life. Offering an interesting mystery combined with strong characterisation and a well crafted plot, A Time of Secrets is an engaging historical fiction novel.

Available to purchase from

Pan Macmillan Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I via Booko

Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

 

aww-badge-2015

 

Review: The Shut Eye by Belinda Bauer

 

Title: The Shut Eye

Author: Belinda Bauer

Published: Bantam Press UK March 2015

Status: Read from March 16 to 18, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Belinda Bauer’s backlist, including Rubbernecker, has been on my ‘must read’ list for quite some time but as it happens The Shut Eye is the first of her six published books I have read.

DCI John Marvel is haunted by the case of missing schoolgirl, Edie Evans, and resents being distracted from his investigation when he is tasked by his boss to find his wife’s poodle. Marvel couldn’t care less about the fate of Mitzi but when he is approached by Anna Buck, a young mother grieving for her own missing son, with information that seems to link Mitzi, Edie and Richard Latham, a local self-proclaimed psychic, his interest in the case is assured.

The Shut Eye is solid crime fiction with unexpected flashes of dark humour, unfolding from the perspectives of Marvel, Anna, and her husband James.

DCI John Marvel is a dogged and driven detective, but not a particularly nice man. He is brutally dismissive of his colleagues, his de facto partner, and suspicious of humanity in general. He is also a skeptic, and detests Latham’s ‘psychic’ claims, so he is challenged by the inexplicable elements of the case even though he is willing to do anything to solve it.

James is shamed by the depth of his wife’s grief, and feels guilty for the role he plays in it, but is at a loss as to how to help her. A mechanic, he works in the garage next door to their flat with a motley assortment of illegal colleagues, doing little else than putting one foot in front of the other every day.

Five months after her four year old son slipped out of the front door of their home, accidentally left ajar by her husband, and vanished without a trace, Anna Buck is still crazed with grief. Bauer’s portrayal of Anna’s emotional agony is raw and affecting, she is teetering on the edge of a complete breakdown when she reaches out to Latham.

The paranormal element of the story comes into play when Anna visits Latham’s ‘church’ in search of answers. Though he refuses to help her, soon after Anna believes she is either experiencing visions, or has finally gone mad.

The Shut Eye is a good read, but I thought the characters were more convincing than the plot. I enjoyed the uncertainty Bauer created by blurring the line between proof and visions, and offering multiple suspects. The ending didn’t quite sit right for me though, feeling a little rushed and aspects of it unlikely.

Available to Purchase From

Bantam I Amazon UK I BookDepository

Amazon US I via Booko

Review: The Secret Life of Luke Livingston by Charity Norman

 

Title: The Secret Life of Luke Livingston

Author: Charity Norman

Published: Allen and Unwin March 2015

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from March 15 to 17, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

The Secret Life of Luke Livingstone is an emotionally powerful story of a family in crisis from Charity Norman.

A respected solicitor and beloved husband, father and grandfather, Luke Livingston seems to have it all, but he has a secret with the potential to destroy it all.

With thought provoking insight and sensitivity, Norman tells the story from four different points of view – Luke’s, his wife’s Eilish’s, and their children’s Simon’s and Kate’s.

I couldn’t help but admire Luke for his courage in finally following his heart. His despair and heartbreak is very affecting as he struggles with the realities of his situation. I rejoiced in each tentative step he took towards reconciling with his own truth.

“Because I’ve come to the end of the road, Eilish. The very end. I can’t go on, I was facing a choice last night: to end my life, or to accept what I’ve always really been.”

I sympathised with Eilish’s shock and feelings of betrayal, and the initial reactions of Luke’s adult children, Kate and Simon, when Luke’s secret is revealed. Norman portrays their confusion, anger and grief with believability as their comfortable world is turned upside down. I was furious with Simon’s extreme reaction, tempered only slightly when Norman revealed the awful memories Luke’s announcement stirred in him.

“Perhaps we never really understand our families at all, any of us. Perhaps those we love the most are really a bunch of strangers, with secret thoughts and inner lives.”

I was hugely angered by the bigotry displayed by many of the characters. It appalls me that such a level of ignorance and hatred still exists in today’s society. The author does a wonderful job of educating the reader about gender and sexual identity without lecturing.

The novel is well written, drawing the reader into the characters lives, but I did feel as if the story stalled somewhat in the middle and its progression was somewhat predictable.

A sensitive and thought-provoking story The Secret Life of Luke Livingstone is a wonderful novel and deserves to be read widely.

Available to purchase from

Allen & Unwin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I via Booko

Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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

Life…

buried-in-books

What I Read Last Week

Razorhurst by Justine Larbelestier

The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah

She’s Having Her Baby by Lauren Sams

Lacy Eye by Jessica Treadway

Resistance by John Birmingham

Bad Behaviour by Rebecca Starford

 

  New Posts

(click the titles to read my reviews)

Review: Razorhurst by Justine Larbelestier ★★★★1/2

Review: The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah ★★

AWW Feature & Giveaway:  Lauren Sams on Writing

Review & Giveaway: She’s Having Her Baby by Lauren Sams ★★★★

Review: Lacy Eye by Jessica Treadway ★★★★

Review: Resistance by John Birmingham ★★★

Stuff On Sundays: Eclectic Reader 2015 Recommendations Part 4

 

 What I Am Reading Today

Girl meets boy. They fall in love, and they marry. For thirty years they share one another’s lives. That should have been the end of the story. I thought I knew that man. I thought I had been shown into every corner of his mind. I’d shared every fear, every hidden longing. I thought he kept no secrets from me. Turns out I never knew him at all.

 What I Plan To Read This Week

(click the covers to view at Goodreads)

Five footprints are the only sign that Daniel Buck was ever here. And now they are all his mother has left. Every day, Anna Buck guards the little prints in the cement. Polishing them to a shine. Keeping them safe. Spiralling towards insanity. When a psychic offers hope, Anna grasps it. Who wouldn’t? Maybe he can tell her what happened to her son… But is this man what he claims to be? Is he a visionary? A shut eye? Or a cruel fake, preying on the vulnerable? Or is he something far, far worse?

1943 is a dangerous time to fall in love… In wartime Melbourne loose lips sink ships, so when Australian Women’s Army sergeant Stella Aldridge overhears soldiers whispering about a revenge killing, she follows her instincts to investigate, despite finding herself drawn to one of the soldiers, the enigmatic Staff Sergeant Eric Lund. But the world is at war and there is little time for romance. Someone in the Australian Intelligence Bureau is trading secrets and it’s up to Stella and her uncompromising superior officer, Lieutenant Nick Ross, to find the traitor. When Eric’s team is scheduled to be deployed in a dangerous mission to the South West Pacific, Stella races to uncover the truth or risk not only Eric’s life, but the security of Australia itself. Torn between protecting the ones she loves and her duty to her country, Stella chooses to pursue the truth at all costs. Even if it means putting herself in the firing line…

 

 Why would a man who has served a long prison sentence escape the day before he’s due to be released? Audie was sentenced to 10 years for a robbery in which four people died, including two members of his gang. Five million dollars has never been recovered from the robbery, and everybody believes Audie knows where the money is. For 10 years Audie has been beaten, stabbed, and threatened by inmates and guards, all desperate to know the secret. The day before he is due to be released, Audie suddenly vanishes.  The hunt for Audie, and the money, is on. But Audie’s not running to save his own life–instead, he’s trying to save someone else. In what promises to be his most popular thriller yet, Robotham has created the ultimate underdog hero, an honorable criminal shrouded in mystery and ready to lead readers on a remarkable chase.

He was dismayed how readily he took to lying. He’d always thought of it as a decisive abandonment of the truth. Instead, he realised, it was simply a matter of one word slipping into the place of another.’ Dr Quinn Davidson and his wife Marianna have endured years of unsuccessful IVF and several miscarriages, and Quinn can’t face another painful attempt to conceive. Marianna is desperate to be a mother and their marriage is feeling the strain. At a small-town practice a few hours from their home, Quinn meets Rachel, the daughter of one of his patients. Drawn to each other, it’s not long before they find themselves in a passionate affair and Quinn realises he must choose between the two women. Then Marianna announces a surprise natural conception, news that will change the course of all their lives. Set in the lush Australian subtropics, this taut emotional drama poses questions about moral courage and accountability, and asks whether love means always telling the truth

‘The only sauce is olive oil – green as sun-struck jade – splashed in small lustrous puddles, through which one skates the flesh, the fat, the bones, the potatoes, the bread. In the last, best drops, one skates a finger.’ Luscious and evocative, The Umbrian Supper Club recounts the stories of a small group of Umbrian women who – sometimes with their men and, as often, without them – gather in an old stone house in the hills above Orvieto to cook, to sit down to a beautiful supper, to drink their beloved local wines. And to talk. During the gathering, the preparation, the cooking and the eating, they recount the memories and experiences of their gastronomic lives and, as much, of their more personal histories. For a period of four years, it was Marlena de Blasi’s task, her pleasure, to cook for the Supper Club – to choose the elements for supper, to plan the menu and, with the help of one or another of the women in the club, to prepare the meal. What she learnt, what they cooked and ate and drank and how they talked is the fundamental stuff of this book. Including a dozen recipes, drawn from the Supper Club, The Umbrian Supper Club is a delight to read and to taste.

  ***********

Thanks for stopping by!

Stuff on Sundays: Eclectic Reader 2015 Recommendations Part 4

eclecticreader15

I’m excited that more than 50 readers have signed up for the Eclectic Reader Challenge so far this year, and several already have already gotten started and shared reviews.  The challenge asks participants to read 12 books over the year, each from a variety of different categories. These are:

  1. Retellings (of fairytale, legends or myth)
  2.  A book set in a country starting with the letter S (eg. Sweden, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Slovakia)
  3.  PI Crime (fiction featuring a private investigator)
  4.  A novel published before you were born
  5. Contemporary romance
  6. Fiction for foodies (fiction featuring food/food related business)
  7. Microhistory (Non Fiction)
  8. Science Fiction set in space
  9. Sports (Fiction or Non fiction)
  10. Featuring diversity
  11. Epistolary Fiction (fiction written in the format of letters/emails/diary entries)
  12. Middle Grade/YA Adventure

I encourage participants who aren’t sure what to select for each category to look for recommendations from other book bloggers who they read and follow, or browse lists such as Goodreads Listopia , Library Booklists, or whatever source is favoured, however I thought I might offer a few gleaned from my own browsing.

In Eclectic Reader 2015 Recommendations Part 1 I offered selections for the categories of Retellings; A book set in a country starting with the letter S; and PI Crime. In Eclectic Reader 2015 Recommendations Part 2 I covered: A novel published before you were born, Contemporary romance and Fiction for foodies and in Eclectic Reader 2015 Recommendations Part 3 I suggested titles for Microhistory, Science Fiction set in space and Sports.

That leaves the last three categories:

Click the cover for more information about each title.

Featuring Diversity

 

Epistolary Fiction

 

Middle Grade or YA Adventure

 

You can join the challenge at any time up until December 1st 2015. For more details CLICK HERE.

 

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