Review: The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction by M.A. Orthofer

 

Title: The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction

Author: M.A. Orthofer

Published: April 19th 2016, Columbia University Press

Status: Read April 2019- courtesy CUP/Netgalley

++++++

My Thoughts:

I like to think I am an eclectic reader, I read widely across genres, a mix of fiction and non fiction, but the truth is I read very little other than English speaking writers from Australia, UK and America. It’s the primary reason I participate in at least one challenge each year that requires I read world fiction.

In an effort to expand my reading horizons, I was interested in browsing through this reference book.

A short introduction speaks to the traditional challenges that affect the publication of translated fiction. These include political, cultural and economic forces, however the phenomenon globalisation, the ubiquitous influence of the internet, and the resulting digital book market, is contributing to its accessibility.

Organised geographically, the Guide then identifies fiction from the mid 1950’s or so, providing brief descriptions about each regions noteworthy authors and their works that are available in English translation. A few titles might be familiar, but likely most will not.

For the curious reader looking to broaden their fiction experience The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction is an excellent resource, which can be supplemented and expanded upon by the authors website complete-review.com.

 

++++++

Available to Purchase via

Columbia University Press I Indiebound I Booko I Book Depository

Im linking up with DoingDeweyDecimal’s #NonFictionFriday

Review: Making It Up As I Go Along by Marian Keyes

 

Title: Making It Up As I Go Along

Author: Marian Keyes

Published: 11th February 2016, Michael Joseph

Status: Read March 2016, courtesy Penguin

++++++

 

My Thoughts:

I’ve long enjoyed the works of Irish author Marian Keyes, including her Walsh Family series. Making It Up As I Go Along is a collection of essays, blog posts and articles, it’s the type of book you can dip in and out of.

Covering musings and anecdotes on diverse topics, from eyelash extensions to Christmas to Yoga there is something for everyone. Mostly amusing, though sometimes poignant and insightful, this is an easy, entertaining read.

++++++

 

Available to Purchase from

Penguin AU I Booktopia I Amazon AU I Book Depository

or your preferred retailer

Weekend Cooking: Slow Cooker Central 2 by Paulene Christie (and me!)

 

So while I was on hiatus, one of the more exciting things that happened for me was the publication of a couple of recipes I submitted in the book Slow Cooker Central 2 by Paulene Christie.

I joined the Slow Cooker Central community in the search of ways to make more use of my slowcooker. With a large family, whom have large appetites and a busy schedule, I am always on the lookout for easy, economical and satisfying meal ideas.

Slow Cooker Central 2 (HarperCollins AU I HarperCollins US) contains 270 recipes organised into 14 chapters that will help you make meals to match your appetite or what’s in the fridge. They are family friendly recipes from people who cook for their families everyday. You’ll find great ideas for casseroles, curries, soups and roasts; plus plenty of recipes you might not expect, such as those for desserts, cakes, fudge and even face paint and play dough.

The recipes I contributed to Slow Cooker Central 2 are two of my family favourites, Creamy Chicken Fajitas and Luau Chicken.

The website at Slow Cooker Central contains an archive of recipes, hints, tips and more, and the Slow Cooker Central Facebook group is busy and active group. There is even an App It’s membership is primarily Australian so metric measurements are most common, but all nationalities are welcome. Other publications available are Slow Cooker Central 1, Slow Cooker Central Family Favourites, Slow Cooker Central Kids and Slow Cooker Central Super Savers.

One of my favourite slow cooker recipes that I didn’t submit is a tasty fakeaway meal. I’ve recently had to replace my trusty 20 year old 7L Breville Banquet Maker (pictured) with a newer model after it finally gave up the ghost, so this recipe is made in a 7L Breville Flavour Maker.

Homemade Turkish Doner Kebab (Gyro)

1.5 kg lean or extra lean beef mince
500g lamb mince
2 1/2 tbsp Greek Seasoning (I used Masterfoods brand)
1 Tbsp Harissa Seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp all purpose seasoning
1 tsp salt
Optional: 1/4 -1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (omit if you dislike heat)

Measure Greek seasoning, Harissa Seasoning, garlic powder, all purpose seasoning, salt and cayenne pepper into a small container and mix well.
Place beef and lamb mince in a large bowl and mix by hand until well combined.
Add spices to mince and mix well again.
If available add mince mix to food processor and pulse til a thick paste
Line a rectangular container (approx lunch box size) with foil and add mince, pressing firmly with knuckles to expel air and fill. Cover and refrigerate for minimum 2 hours or up to overnight.
Remove container from refrigerator, ensure meat is tightly wrapped in foil, re-wrap if necessary.
Make 6 balls of foil (or use a rack) and place in slow cooker to create a stand for the foil wrapped meat. Add 1 – 1 1/2 cups water to slow cooker, make sure water level is below the level of the stand.
Add foil wrapped meat and turn slow cooker to HIGH
Cook on HIGH for 1.5 hours. This ensures meat will keep its tight shape.
Remove foil wrapped meat from slow cooker, take out balls/rack and pour out water.
Turn slow cooker to LOW, unwrap meat and place directly into the slow cooker bowl.
Cook on LOW for a further 2-3 hours (a meat thermometer should register at least 70c (150F) when inserted into the middle of the loaf)
When cooked, remove meat, wrap in foil and allow to stand for 10-15 minutes.
Slice thinly with a large very sharp knife (an electric or shaving knife would make this easier).
Serve wrapped in warmed pita or tortilla wraps with your preferred dressings
I like lots of shredded lettuce, thinly sliced onion rings, BBQ sauce and a squirt of aioli (garlic sauce). You can also add sliced tomato, shredded cheese, tabbouleh, humus etc
Leftovers still taste great heated in the microwave.

But it happens to be my birthday today..so I’m not cooking tonight YAY!

Review: Bridge Burning and Other Hobbies by Kitty Flanaganh

 

Title: Bridge Burning and Other Hobbies

Author: Kitty Flanagan

Published: March 2018, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read April 2019

++++++

 

My Thoughts:

“Had I told my mother I was writing an autobiography, she’d quite rightly have asked, ‘Why?’ Instead, this is a book of true stories and ill-informed opinions. And I believe it was Paul Simon who once said, ‘Your opinion is not important, it is merely of interest.’ So, while this book is not important, I do hope you will find it of interest. Most of all, I hope you will find it funny because that really is my favourite thing.”

I did find it mildly interesting, Kitty, but mostly I found it funny. I smiled a lot, laughed out loud a few times, and spat out my drink at least once.

Kitty and I are of the same generation, so we share similar childhood experiences and attitudes. I enjoy her self deprecating humour, and her witty observations.

The only thing I thought the book lacked was a handful of photos from Kitty’s childhood.

++++++

 

Available to Purchase from

Allen & Unwin I Booktopia I Amazon Au I Book Depository

or your preferred retailer

Also coming soon by Kitty Flanagan

Review: Accidental Death? By Robin Bowles

 

Review: Accidental Death? When things may not be as they seem.

Author: Robin Bowles

Published: Scribe Publications, May 2018

Status: Read January 2019

++++++

 

My Thoughts:

Robin Bowles has published a number of true crime books covering some of Australia’s most high profile crimes, including the death of toddler Jaidyn Leskie, and the abduction and murder of English backpacker, Peter Falconio. She seems most interested in cases where the facts are uncertain, and it is this ambiguity she explores in Accidental Death?.

Bowles presents six interesting cases in this book, some with which I was familiar from media coverage, some not. They are all tragic tales of lives cut short, in which absolute culpability is not easily ascribed. I found ‘26 Seconds’ particularly maddening, and ‘There is a Kid Under the Water!’ utterly heartbreaking.

While her research seems thorough, Bowles is not simply an objective reporter of the facts. Though not necessarily a bad thing, her personal bias is often evident in her storytelling, which is generally unusual for the genre.

I thought Accidental Death? was a thought provoking read, an interesting examination of blame, guilt, and justice, and the lack thereof.

++++++

 

Available to Purchase from

Scribe Publications or your preferred retailer

Review: Peeing in the Bush by Adeline Loh

Title: Peeing in the Bush: The Misadventures of Two Asian Girls in Zambia

Author: Adeline Loh

Published: MPH November 2012

Status: Read December 2018

*******

My Thoughts:

“I decided that I was going to live my life. In the now. To the fullest. That entire night I couldn’t sleep, becoming increasingly obsessed with the idea of breaking free. My imagination thundered with magnificent dis­coveries, foreign smells, strange weather and mysterious bathroom configurations. Yes, I was going travelling, job be damned.”

Peeing in the Bush is a charming travelogue memoir.

Tired of work in her Malaysian office, Adeline Loh convinces an acquaintance, Chan, to shun the convenience of ubiquitous package tours popular among her friends and family, and instead explore the wilds of Zambia with a backpack, and a tight budget.

Written with a light, self deprecating tone, Adeline details their cross country adventures travelling through the African bush via taxi, bus, jeep, on foot and by canoe, while trying to avoid being mauled by lions, hippo’s, baboons, or crocodiles.

Adeline’s descriptions of the landscape and wildlife of Zambia are evocative, and often humorous. She shares interesting information about the country’s history and social conditions. I really enjoyed her writing, and I felt that I learned something about an unfamiliar place.

Peeing in the Bush is an entertaining and informative read, ideal for any armchair traveller.

“…memories of Zambia that would continue to haunt me for the rest of my life and make me wish I had never left. At work, on the toilet, in my dreams and pretty much whenever my mind was idle, a nostalgic collage of the Southern Cross, lions brushing past our open vehicle, boisterous markets, walking safaris, fleeing from hippos on the Zambezi, Play-Doh nshima, gliding over phenomenal Victoria Falls, bush loos, booze cruises, mud villages and spending the night in Beat-Up Van would reduce me to a space cadet for months on end. All the beautiful, warm people who shared their intriguing and scary stories with us. All the adorable animals that could not wait to devour us. And all the fabulous salmon-pink sunsets that never failed to leave me gasping for air like an asthmatic.”

******

 

Available to Purchase from your preferred retailer.

Review: I Can’t Remember the Title but the Cover is Blue

Title: I Can’t Remember the Title But the Cover is Blue

Author: Elias Greig

Published: Allen & Unwin, November 2018

Status: Read December 18th 2019

My Thoughts:

Monday, 2.50pm

Lady in sun visor: Yes, I’m after a book … I can’t remember the title, but it’s quite unique …

Me: Do you remember what it’s about?

Sun Visor: It’s about a French woman, and she finally tells her story. Do you have that one?

——————————

LOL? Any guesses on the title?

Written as a series of vignettes, in the tradition of Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell and The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell, I Can’t Remember the Title But the Cover is Blue, Elias Greig shares the best, worst and downright weirdest customer encounters from his years working as a Sydney bookseller.

I Can’t Remember the Title but the Cover is Blue is a quick and easy read that will make you laugh, cringe, and perhaps even shed a tear (because either you will be grateful you don’t work in retail, or because you do).

Review: The Land Before Avocado by Richard Glover

Title: The Land Before Avocado

Author: Richard Glover

Published: ABC Books, October 2018

Status: Read December 30, 2018

My Thoughts:

Technically I grew up in the 80’s, having been born in the early 1970’s, but so much of what Glover writes evokes memories of my childhood, from the pineapple ‘hedgehog’ cheese and onion appetisers, to the unbelted, smoke filled, weaving, courtesy of the ubiquitous cask wine in the bar fridge, car trips. I laughed aloud often at the nostalgic absurdity of it all.

However, The Land Before Avacado is also a sobering reminder of how far we have come as a culture. The status quo for baby boomers and most of Gen X would be inconceivable to today’s generations who can drink gourmet coffee (with smashed avacado toast) in the comfort of their own home, or by the roadside, any day of the week.

Tongue in cheek aside, many advances are sobering, from the drastic reduction of the road death toll, thanks to the introduction of drink driving and seatbelt laws, to laws protecting the employment status of pregnant women.

Glover also shares facts that will likely shock most readers who are convinced by their Facebook feeds that crime is at an all time high, when, in fact, the commission of serious crimes has more than halved across the board in the last fifty years.

While the nostalgic remembrances in The Land Before Avacado, appeal directly to those over the age of 40, I feel compelled to recommend to this to anyone over the age of twenty, many of whom could benefit from a little perspective.

Oh, and I am so going to cook the Spicy Meat Ring!

Available to Purchase at your preferred retailer

Review: A Thousand Naked Strangers by Kevin Hazzard

 

Title: A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedic’s Wild Ride to the Edge and Back

Author: Kevin Hazzard

Published: Scribner January 2016

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read on January 07, 2016 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

A Thousand Naked Strangers is an interesting and fast paced account of Kevin Hazzard’s decade long tenure as a paramedic in Atlanta, Georgia.

At age twenty six, after just eight months of a part time course Emergency Medical Training, and a brief period spent at a rather disreputable private ambulance service ferrying around chronically ill and nursing home patients, Kevin finds himself riding shot gun in a 911 ambulance with a near burnt out partner, responding to calls in some of the worst areas of Atlanta.

EMS is the greatest show I’ve ever seen, except its not a show, it’s all real. No, it’s more than that -it’s reality distilled and boiled down to its essence. It’s life and (hopefully) death, and unlike the general public, I’m invited and allowed to wander freely amid the debris. So send me anything.”

Hazzard details his first few months on the job as he grows in confidence as an EMT, enjoying the novelty, despite a frustrating rotation of partners. However, it’s not until he is teamed with Chris, a career medic, that he begins to view his job as a calling, and decides to upgrade his qualification to become a paramedic, eventually joining the sought after Grady Trauma service.

Hazzard punctuates his narrative with sometimes bloody and often bizarre vignettes of injury and tragedy, severed toes, shattered skulls, choking dogs, angry drunks, and shirtless crack heads. Squeamish readers may not appreciate Hazzard’s descriptions or his dark sense of humour that medicos are famed for, but I admired his candor.

“I just put my hand in brain”
“What’d it feel like?”
“Squishy.”

Eventually Hazzard’s service begins to take an emotional toll, it is a stressful, often thankless job and eventually the adrenaline fades.

A Thousand Naked Strangers is a gritty, thrilling and compelling glimpse into the world of a paramedic.

Available via

Simon & Schuster US I AmazonUS I Book Depository I IndieBound

via Booko

Review: The Prison Book Club by Ann Walmsley

 

Title: The Prison Book Club

Author: Ann Walmsley

Published: Oneworld December 2015

Status: Read from December 31, 2015 to January 02, 2016 — I own a copy {Courtesy Allen and Unwin}

My Thoughts:

In The Prison Book Club, journalist Ann Walmsley shares the story of the eighteen months she spent as a volunteer with Book Clubs for Inmates, a fledgling project that began at the Collins Bay Institution, a medium-security penitentiary in Kingston, Ontario that has now grown into a successful nationwide program.

Walmsley was understandably reluctant when her friend, Carol Finlay, asked her to support the Collins Bay book club, several years before she had been badly traumatised when she was violently mugged outside her London home. She has little recollection of the first meeting at Collins Bay but decided to return, taking strength from her late father’s (a former judge) advice, “If you expect the best of people, they will rise to the occasion.”

For eighteen months Walmsley joined inmates in Collins Bay, and later the Beaver Creek Institution, to discuss selected fiction and nonfiction titles including The Cellist of Sarajevo , The Book of Negroes , The Boy in the Moon: A Father’s Journey to Understand His Extraordinary Son, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Walmsley recorded the book-club discussions and conducted regular one on one interviews with a select number of prisoners who also kept diaries for her, not only about their thoughts on reading but also aspects of their daily lives. It is this material she draws on to tell the story.

I admit to being surprised that the literary titles chosen engaged the men so much. I enjoyed the discussion and insights of the prisoners, even though I was unfamiliar with several of the books. The program is an excellent initiative that seems to offer tangible benefits to the prisoners that choose to participate. What particularly struck me was Walmsley’s recognition of the way in which reading seems to encourage the development of empathy, something I have long believed to be true.

I was less interested in Walmsley’s musings about nature and felt perhaps that she could have better explored the contrast between the book club made up of her affluent friends, and the prison book club, beyond the menu and setting.

Overall I found The Prison Book Club to be an interesting read, I really admire the program and I’m heartened to learn that Australian prison’s are encouraged to establish book clubs for inmates. I’ve also added a few books to my own reading list as well including The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story and Alias Grace

Available via

Allen & Unwin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AUvia Booko

BookDepository I Amazon US I Amazon UK

Previous Older Entries