Friday 20th November Freebie

Today I have three eBook copies of Rachel Amphlett’s latest release Three Lives Down  to give away, via a Smashwords coupon, thank you Rachel for your generosity.

Cover Three Lives Down

 

All you need to do is leave a comment or “like” on my  review of Three Lives Down  by midnight Thursday the 26th of November 2015  and I will  make a random draw of three winners on Friday 27th November. Easy!

Six Things You Didn’t Know About Author Rachel Amphlett

Cover Three Lives Down

Rachel Amphlett previously worked in the UK publishing industry, as a TV/film extra, played lead guitar in rock bands, and worked with BBC radio before relocating from England to Australia in 2005.

After returning to writing, Rachel enjoyed publication success both in Australia and the United Kingdom with her short stories, before her first thriller White Gold was released in 2011, with the Italian foreign rights being sold to Fanucci Editore’s TimeCrime imprint in 2014. Rachel has since successfully published five more novels including the thriller Three Lives Down which I enjoyed immensely.

Welcome to my blog Rachel Amphlett.

 

Rachel Amphlett

6 Things You Didn’t Know About Rachel Amphlett

 

I want to live out of a suitcase.

Yet due to renovating a house for the past three years, we haven’t travelled as much as I’d like – that’s all set to change from next year, as we’re due to go back to the UK for a few weeks to catch up with family and friends. After that, it’s going to be a case of saving up for a trip to Ecuador as soon as possible – and the thought of taking a year off to travel is very appealing to us!

 

 

My favourite film of 2015 (so far!)

Without a doubt, it has to be The Martian – having read and loved the book, I think like a lot of fans there was a bit of trepidation going to see this at the cinema and wondering if they’d manage to translate it well to the big screen. Of course, it was brilliant.

 

My favourite book of 2015

‘Night Heron’ by Adam Brookes. It’s about a man who escapes a Chinese labour camp and is revealed to have worked for British intelligence 20 years’ previously. It’s a cracking thriller as the protagonist uses all his wiles to evade capture and get back in contact with MI6. Brookes has a second novel out now, and I’ll definitely be adding that to the ‘To Be Read’ pile.

 

The best part about research is…

Trying new experiences. The highlight of this year has been flying a Blackhawk helicopter simulator – yes, I could’ve written the scene adequately enough without doing this, but actually being in the ‘pilot’ seat gave a whole new angle to it. I’m now actively coming up with ideas for stories that’ll give me the chance to try some new stuff next year

 

I wish I had more time to…

Get the ideas out of my head onto paper. Seriously, I must start investigating some dictation software. I read about how prolific writers such as Russell Blake are, and I envy that output. Trying to write around a full-time job is hard though, so I’m thinking a few dictation sessions in the evenings once the house is quiet might be the way to go…

 

My next book is..

Being written. Actually, I have three projects on the go, all of which I’d like to release in 2016 – watch this space!

 

 

You can keep in touch with Rachel via her mailing list by signing up at www.rachelamphlett.com

 

Post Script: Maggie Beer’s Summer Harvest Recipes – Maggie Beer

Cover Image

Maggie Beer’s Summer Harvest Recipes

Maggie Beer

Penguin Random House

Lantern

ISBN: 9781921384240

 

Description:

This collection brings together Maggie Beer’s signature recipes from the summer chapter of her cookbook Maggie’s Harvest, including detailed descriptions of seasonal ingredients and inspiring accounts of memorable meals. The recipes highlight Maggie’s philosophy of using the freshest and best seasonal produce available, and treating it simply, allowing the natural flavours to speak for themselves. Describing herself as a “country cook,” Maggie cooks from the heart and is passionate about instilling in others this same confidence—to use recipes as a starting point, and be guided by instinct and personal taste. This book from one of Australia’s best-loved cooks is essential for anyone with an appreciation of the pleasures of seasonal food. Includes metric measures.

 

My View:

What perfect timing – our summer crops have been planted and the first of the season’s zucchinis has been picked and the fruit trees are netted, I just can’t wait to start making some of Maggie Beer’s summer produce recipes.

When reading this book it feel like you are working alongside Maggie in her Barossa kitchen, chatting as you work. Maggie’s farm and orchard are in the Barossa Valley South Australia, we love the Barossa Valley – such exciting and fresh produce! “Maggie cooks from the heart and is passionate about instilling in others this same confidence – to use recipes as a starting point, and be guided by instinct and personal taste” the only way to cook!

 

I cannot wait to start making Maggie’s Apricot jam (you cannot beat homemade apricot jam) and bottling Maggie’s tomato sauce – pasta sauce in a jar; passionfruit butter is another favourite, chicken breasts stuffed with apricots and green peppercorns – yum and sweet roasted red capsicum pate, and we must make cocktail zucchini fritters (there is always a need for another recipe to make use of zucchinis in our house), always! Enjoy your summer cooking with Maggie Beer’s Summer Harvest.

 

 

Post Script: The Singing Bones – Shaun Tan

The Singing Bones

The Singing Bones

Shaun Tan

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760111038

 

Description:

A unique and alluring art book showcasing Shaun Tan’s extraordinary sculptures based on the timeless and compelling fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm.

 

In this beautifully presented volume, the essence of seventy-five fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm is wonderfully evoked by Shaun Tan’s extraordinary sculptures.

 

Nameless princes, wicked stepsisters, greedy kings, honourable peasants and ruthless witches, tales of love, betrayal, adventure and magical transformation: all inspiration for this stunning gallery of sculptural works. Introduced by Grimm Tales author Philip Pullman and leading fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes, The Singing Bones breathes new life into some of the world’s most beloved fairy tales.

 

‘These little figures of clay, with their simplified features, their single attributes, are perfect realisations of the strangeness of the characters they represent.’ – Philip Pullman

 

 

My View:

What a beautiful collection!

Shaun Tan has captured the essence and emotions of the Grimms’ Fairy Tales with his deceivingly simple yet evocative sculptures. The works are eloquent and are beautifully paired with edited extracts from The Complete Fairy Tales translated, introduced and annotated by Jack Zipes (Vintage Books, 1987); these sculptures and extracts are truly memorable and have succeeded in replacing any childhood images I had of the tales.

 

So many emotions fill these pages; the sculptures are pared back, raw and often confronting, others are charming and delightful. I particularly loved the sculptures that are paired with these extracts, The Thumbling, The Stolen Pennies and Faithful Johannes. I think Faithful Johannes is my favourite – the emotions etched on Johannes face are sublime and powerful, so little says so much, the other two I selected are just so simple and yet so beautiful! But don’t be confused by my selection of beautiful, evocative sculptures, Tan also captures the essence of evil just as magnificently with brooding haunting images – I choose to ignore these – they are truly fearful.

 

A beautiful collection that anyone will be proud to have on their bookshelf or coffee table.

 

 

Post Script: Three Lives Down – Rachel Amphlett

Cover Three Lives Down

Three Lives Down

Dan Taylor #3

Rachel Amphlett

Rachel Amphlett

ISBN: 9780992268596

 

 

Description:

Dan Taylor has survived two attempts on his life. The rest of his team are missing, and now a terrorist group has stolen a radioactive isotope from a top secret government project.

 

Can Dan survive long enough to prevent a nuclear disaster on British soil?

 

With the Prime Minister determined to re-negotiate the country’s place in the European Union, and deals being struck behind closed doors, Dan stumbles across a plot that will shake the country to its core.

 

If his mission fails, his enemies will overthrow the British government, and Dan will be a wanted man.

 

If he wants to succeed, he’ll have to sacrifice everything.

 

 

My View:

A surprisingly good novel! Surprised – yes I was – very pleasantly so. I am sorry to say I had not come across Aussie author Rachel Amphlett before and didn’t really know what I might find when I opened this book. When I decide to read a new author there is always a little trepidation involved – will the book live up to my expectations – and those expectations are pretty high? I wasn’t disappointed.   What a great read it was.

 

Despite not having read the first two books in the series I had no problem relating to the main characters or  understanding the situations they found themselves in. I was quickly enmeshed in this read.

 

The action is fast paced, the tone tense and the situations highly credible. I loved that Rachel wove a sub story about fracking into this mix – the world really does need to know about and understand the potential problems that relate to this practice and the situation in this novel is very sensitively and powerfully delivered without hysteria or emotional blackmail. Great work Rachel. I am no fan of fracking and I do not apologise for my view.

 

Back to the novel:

 

Fast paced√

Action packed√

Realistic scenarios√

Settings vivid and visual√

Writing – explodes on the page√

Characters- are empathetic and credible√

Will you be up all night reading this – most definitely!

Would I recommend to you – most certainly!

 

My rating – five stars!

 

 

 

Rachel Amphlett is star! She has achieved so much in her relatively short writing career. Rachel has successfully self-published and promoted her books and the Italian foreign rights to White Gold, the first book in this series, were sold last year to Fanucci Editore’s TimeCRIME imprint, the same imprint that publishes David Baldacci, John Connolly, and Karin Slaughter. What a coup! Rachel Amphlett is a writer we are most certainly going to hear lost more about!

 

Post Script: A New Era For Manny Youngman – Mike Murphy

Cover A New Era For Many Youngman

A New Era For Manny Youngman

Mike Murphy

Michael Murphy

ISBN: 9780994414809

 

Description:

Manny Youngman has some unconventional ideas on feminism and the effects it has had on our society. He thinks there is an imbalance and men also need to find a new role for themselves to stop the growing spiral of domestic violence, broken marriages and male suicides. His ideas sound good in theory, but they are sorely put to the test when he is confronted with a teenage daughter he didn’t know he had and her militant feminist mother who is going to jail.

 

Manny’s world is turned upside down, drawing his parents, his professional colleagues and his associates in the New Era Men’s Support Alliance, as well as the friends of his new-found daughter and her mother, into a sequence of events over which it seems no-one has any control.

 

Funny sometimes but always with a serious undertone, A New Era For Manny Youngman is a very different novel with something to say about male-female relationships.

 

 

My View:

Mike Murphy presents some interesting view points and scenarios in this contemporary novel. Undoubtedly the role of men and women in today’s society is one that is complex; there are no “Golden Rules” to making a relationship work – or is there? Manny and his band of cohorts, family – immediate and extended, eventually prove that honesty and the use of passive listening techniques go a long way to understanding and living in harmony. Sounds easy doesn’t? Tricked you – life is never easy but it could be a lot easier for some of us if we just took some time to truly listen to someone else’s view; switch off, turn off, power down and listen.

 

Mike Murphy’s writing demonstrates his high level of listening skills; the voices of his characters are realistic, their actions credible. The scenarios are a little complicated but then, so is life.

 

 

Frittata of Potato, Chorizo, Caramelised Onion & Black Olives – Happy Go Paleo – Irena Macri

Cover Happy Go Paleo

Extract from Happy Go Paleo by Irena Macri, photography by Brooke Holm, published by Viking on 23 September 2015, RRP $34.99

Frittata of Potato, Chorizo, Caramelized Onion & Black Olives

Frittata

Serves 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 25 minutes

 

500 grams brushed white potatoes, peeled and halved

1 teaspoon coconut oil

200 grams mild chorizo,

sliced 1 large brown onion, quartered and sliced

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

12 black, semi-dried olives or Spanish olives, pitted and chopped

6 eggs

sea salt

ground black pepper, chopped parsley, to serve

 

Place the potatoes in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Strain, rinse under cold water and thinly slice.

While the potatoes are cooking, heat the coconut oil in a deep frying pan over medium heat. Add the chorizo and cook for 2–3 minutes on each side, until browned. Remove to a plate and reserve the chorizo fat and juices in the pan. Once the chorizo has cooled down, dice it roughly.

Add the onion and olive oil to the frying pan and cook over low–medium heat for 5–7 minutes, stirring a few times, until soft and golden. Add the garlic, sliced potato, chopped olives and chorizo, and stir through.

In a bowl, whisk and season the eggs with a generous pinch of sea salt and some black pepper. Pour over the potatoes and rotate the pan to spread the egg mixture evenly. Cover with a lid and cook over medium heat for 3–4 minutes until cooked through the bottom half. Pop the pan under a hot grill for a further 3 minutes, until golden brown on top. Sprinkle the chopped parsley over the top to serve.

 

NUTRITION NOTES:

This dish is well balanced in most nutrients

but it’s particularly high in vitamin C, selenium and potassium.

Per serve: 570 calories, 30 grams carbohydrates, 41 grams fat, 4 grams fibre, 23 grams protein.

 

Tip: For a vegetarian version, simply omit the chorizo. Regular sausage or even some salami can be used instead of chorizo. Sweet potato can be used instead of white potato if avoiding nightshades.

Mini Choc Souffle Cakes – Happy Go Paleo – Irena Macri

Cover Happy Go Paleo

Extract from Happy Go Paleo by Irena Macri, photography by Brooke Holm, published by Viking on 23 September 2015, RRP $34.99

“MINI CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE CAKES

Serves 6

Preparation time: 25 minutes Cooking time: 30 minutes + time to

cook the sweet potato

Souffle

 

 

coconut oil or butter, for greasing

4 eggs, separated

1 tablespoon vanilla essence

½ cup cooled melted ghee, butter or coconut oil (or a combination)

⅓ cup preferred sweetener such as honey, maple syrup or rice malt, plus 1 tablespoon extra

⅓ heaped cup cacao powder

1 cup cooked and mashed sweet potato (baked is best)

1½ tablespoons tapioca flour or arrowroot flour

⅓ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

sea salt

coconut ice-cream, strawberries and mint, to serve (optional)

 

Preheat the oven to 175°C. Grease a tray of 6–8 muffin cases with a little coconut oil or butter. Alternatively you can use individual ramekins.

 

Using an electric mixer, whisk the yolks for 1 minute, until creamy. Add the vanilla essence, melted ghee/oil and your preferred sweetener, and whisk until well incorporated.

 

Add the cacao powder and mashed sweet potato. Whisk for 20 seconds, until well incorporated, then sift through the bi-carbonate of soda and tapioca or arrowroot flour. Whisk again for 20 seconds, until the mixture thickens and starts to form a ripple trace.

 

Place the egg whites and a pinch of salt in a separate, spotlessly clean bowl. Whisk for 1½ minutes, until soft peaks form. Add half the egg whites to the chocolate mix and gently fold in with a spatula. Add the rest and gently fold until everything is well combined.

 

Add 2–3 tablespoons of mix per muffin case, not quite to the top, because the cakes will rise. Or fill the pre-greased ramekins with the mixture, leaving about 1 cm from the top. Place the tray on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 25 minutes. The cakes should feel quite soft and bouncy when you touch them and they will be super-moist and soft on the inside.

 

Once baked, turn the oven off and open the door. Place the tray on the oven door, and allow to cool for 5 minutes. This gradual temperature change should prevent them from collapsing. Serve immediately as is or with a dollop of coconut ice-cream, fresh strawberries and mint. These can be eaten warm or cold and can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days.

 

Tip: Baking time might vary slightly depending on your oven or how big your muffin casings are. If you are baking it as a round cake in a spring-form or a cake tin, give it about 45 minutes.

NUTRITION NOTES:

This is actually a very low glycemic index dessert, coming at 14 on the glycemic load scale. It’s also rich in vitamins A & C, iron, magnesium, manganese, copper and selenium.

 

Per serve: 280 calories, 29 grams carbohydrates, 17 grams fat,

4 grams fibre, 6 grams protein.” p.197

 

 

 

Post Script: The November Criminals – Sam Munson

November Criminals

The November Criminals

Sam Munson

Hachette Australia

9780733634932

 

Description:

A darkly funny, pot-infused novel of teenage maladjustment in the tradition of Beautiful Children from a compelling new voice in American fiction.

 

For a high school senior, Addison Schacht has a lot of preoccupations. Like getting into college. Selling drugs to his classmates. His complicated relationship with his best friend (NOT his girlfriend) Digger. And he’s just added another to the list: the murder of his classmate Kevin Broadus, and his own absurd, obsessive plan to investigate the death. When presented with an essay question on his application to the University of Chicago—What are your best and worst qualities?—Addison finds himself provoked into giving his final, unapologetic say about all of the above and more.

 

Addison Schacht finds good company among American literature’s cadre of unsettled, restless youth, from Huck Finn to Holden Caulfield. The November Criminals takes on the terrain of the classic adolescent truth-telling novel and—with nerve and erudition—carves out its own unique territory.

 

My View:

I usually try to be fair to a book and read what I have started and find something positive in the narrative recognising that not every book will satisfy my tastes, but may “work” for someone else; I should have stopped at the description where it mentioned “pot infused” this element of the writing was severely underrepresented in the blurb. This book rambles, is pretentious and has no redeeming features – I am amazed that this book was published let alone now being made into a feature film. Definitely not for me…

 

Post Script: Happy Go Paleo – Irena Macri

A colourful, fresh and fun way of presenting the Paleo diet.

Cover Happy Go Paleo

Happy Go Paleo

Fun Healthy Meals From My 80/20 Kitchen

Irena Macri

Penguin

Viking

ISBN: 9780670078820

 

 

Description:

A little paleo goes a long way . . .

 

‘Happy Go Paleo is exactly what the name suggests: an easy-going, relaxed approach to the paleo diet. I love paleo as a lifestyle, a diet focused on whole foods, a simpler way of living, spending more time outdoors and getting fit through functional movement. I want other people to discover my 80/20 paleo philosophy and how fantastic it can make you feel.’

 

In this book, internationally renowned blogger Irena Macri creates complete paleo meals to show how accessible healthy eating can be. Here are over 100 of Irena’s best recipes of whole foods, good-quality protein, nuts and seeds. Fun to make, delicious to eat and using everyday ingredients, all recipes are gluten free and refined sugar free to help you craft your own paleo and healthy eating journey!

 

My View:

A colourful, fresh and fun way of presenting the Paleo diet.

 

The bonuses:

An easy guide to recipes that suit your individual needs; recipes that contain the following are noted and easily discerned:

Vegan

Low carb

Contain nightshades (e.g. potatoes, tomatoes, capsicum, chilli etc.)

Contain egg

Contain shellfish

Contain nuts

Contain dairy.

 

 

There are some gorgeous and easy to follow recipes here; I think these would be a hit, paleo or not:

 

Grilled Prawn with lemongrass & Garlic Nut Crumbs served with Salad of Asian Market Greens

Roasted Sweet Potato, Red Onion and Coriander Salad

Creole Prawns, Avocado Salsa & Lettuce Cups

Rainbow Salad with Maple Syrup Pecans

Green Smoothie

Frittata of Potato, Chorizo, Caramelised Onion and Black Olive and

 

Let’s not forget desserts:

Lemon Honey Pudding

Mini Chocolate Soufflé Cakes

Banoffee Pie Parfait Cups

Chocolate and Chia Seeds Salami (yes this is a dessert- the salami reference is to the shape of the mixture – a log that is chilled and sliced into rounds) 🙂