In The Mail This Week Ending 31st January 2016

Some exiting books came in the mail recently – I thought I had cleverly read all my January published books – but then the post box delivered 7 in one day (and I have 12 ebooks to read as well but as on ereader we wont count them) – thankfully some of these are not released until March (I can put them to the bottom of the pile for a while) and a few (cook books ) I have already started reading and trying out.  And Saturday night I read A Murder Without Motive – a very engaging quick read. But now I have started a Must Write Review Up Soon pile…about 8 on that list including the magnificent  Coffin Road by Pewter May which I finished early this morning.


Books 31-01-016

Did you notice the book disguised as  brick here? Six Four is 635 pages but thankfully is not released until March.

Do any of these appeal to you ?



Tomato Ricotta Tart – Good Life Great Food – Judy Phillips

Cover Good Life Great Food

When I reviewed this book a few months ago I said when it is tomato season I will make the  Tomato and Ricotta Tart. Yesterday I made the tart and tartlets.

Simple, easy, colourful and fresh.  I think I prefer the tartlets – they are easier to hold and enjoy. I think you could also cut the pastry into rounds and cook base in muffin or jam tart type tray and have the perfect starter/cocktail food/ finger food.

Tomato and Ricotta Tarts

I used store bought puff pastry sheets,ricotta, sundried tomatoes, eggs, cream and a dash of cream fraiche to thicken the base, three types tomatoes and basil from our garden. Once pastry base is just warm (cold works too) plate up with tomatoes mixture.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.  Fresh, colourful, delicious.   ** Hint – cut tomatoes into bite size pieces and let sit for 10 minutes or so to allow some of the juices to drain off.


Post Script: Try Not To Breathe – Holly Seddon

Try Not To Breathe

Try Not To Breathe

Holly Seddon

Allen & Unwin


ISBN: 9781782396680



A woman’s search for the truth about a brutal attack on a teenage girl puts her in danger in this tense, emotionally-charged psychological thriller: perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train or The Book of You.


Alex is sinking. Slowly but surely, she’s cut herself off from everything but her one true love – drink. Until she’s forced to write a piece about a coma ward, where she meets Amy.


Amy is lost. When she was fifteen, she was attacked and left for dead in a park not far from her house. Her attacker was never found. Since then, she has drifted in a lonely, timeless place. She’s as good as dead, but not even her doctors are sure how much she understands.


Alex and Amy grew up in the same suburbs, played the same music, flirted with the same boys. And as Alex begins to investigate the attack, she opens the door to the same danger that has left Amy in a coma…



My view:

This is a narrative that sparkles on so many fronts! This is a remarkable debut novel – though to be fair, Holly Seddon has been writing since she stepped out of college and into the freelance world at least fifteen years ago, this however is her first novel. You cannot tell – the writing her is succinct, polished and oh so addictive. I loved this read.


Try Not to Breathe is a book that is written mostly from the view point of Alex – a woman who is addicted to alcohol, a compulsion that dictates and ruins her life (mostly). This is a very confronting look at addiction – it is not however at all despondent or a self-indulgent look at this world – it is a matter of fact, almost clinical in description and Alex has almost accepted that this is her life until she stumbles across Amy and her story. Amy has been hospitalised and in an unresponsive state since she suffered a horrendous physical attack. She cannot communicate with the outside world. Another impressive revelation of life as we could not possibly imagine it – but there is hope. This “personal” story is mind blowing!


Two very personal revealing narrative threads, three if you consider Jacob’s story which is also very much integral to the overall story arc.

And then we have a mystery – who attacked Amy? A cold case reopened. Redemption and hope and justice eventuate. Brilliantly written, engaging, eye opening, tragic but with a sense of optimism…just loved it! I can’t wait to read what Holly Seddon comes up with next.





Post Script: Desert Flame – Janine Grey


Desert Flame

Desert Flame

Janine Grey

Penguin Books Australia

ISBN: 9780143797074



When her beloved father dies, Eliza Mayberry’s privileged world comes crashing down around her ears. On the verge of losing the business that has been in her family for generations, she has no option but to take over the last remaining case: tracking down the elusive Fingal McLeod in outback New South Wales and bringing him back to Sydney.


Fin, however, has other ideas. Determined to find the legendary Dark Flame, a rare opal that has eluded opal-hunters for decades, he has no intention of leaving his mine, Rebel’s Ruin, to reunite with the family of the man who abandoned him – even for the beguiling Miss Mayberry.


Drawn to the people and starkly beautiful landscape of the desert, Eliza discovers the new start that she’s been seeking in this unlikely place and with a man who is as infuriating as he is intriguing. But as passion blooms under the scorching outback sun, secrets from the past and present are bubbling below the surface – secrets that could destroy both the fragile trust between Eliza and Fin, and the bright promise of the future.



My View:

This Australian rural narrative/romantic mystery, is full of spectacular scenery, vibrant characters and with an interesting plot that has the requisite dramas (standover men, vengeful sister of ex-boyfriend , corrupt mining companies etc) and the necessary happy ending…do you feel a BUT coming?


But it is also peppered with what I consider unnecessary vivid sex scenes. I make no excuses, I just don’t enjoy knowing every single close encounter of the sexual kind, I prefer sex scenes to leave a little something to the imagination – and believe me there were a few places in this novel where nothing was left to the imagination (eg outdoor shower scene). To me this sparkling narrative just didn’t need this level of salacious detail.


Aside from this one issue, and this is a personal issue, the writing was admirable. This book maybe for you, sadly it wasnt for me.


Post Script: Three Truths and A Lie – Lisa Gardner

Three Truths and a Lie

Three Truths and a Lie

(Detective D.D. Warren #7.5)

Lisa Gardner

Penguin Group


ISBN: 9781101984888



Boston Detective D.D. Warren faces her most brutal adversaries yet—a class of jaded thriller writers—in New York Times Bestselling Author Lisa Gardner’s exclusive e-Book short story.


In Lisa Gardner’s second short story, after the New York Times bestseller The 7th Month, Detective D.D. Warren takes on her most intimidating assignment yet: a fifty-minute class meant to educate a horde of bloodthirsty thriller writers on the ways of actual police work. Yet sometimes life really does imitate fiction, as D.D. takes the writers through the reality of one of her most twisted cases—a case that involves a seedy motel room, drugs, prostitution . . . and a severed leg.


With Gardner’s trademark suspense, sharp observations, and thrilling storytelling, Three Truths and a Lie is a fascinating chapter in D.D.’s storied career. Includes an early look at Lisa Gardner’s next novel of suspense, Find Her, coming February 9, 2016.



My View:

A fun and interesting look at a crime scene and the processes the police establish at the scene of the crime – I can feel the author smiling as she writes. Cheekily she includes or sometimes alludes to famous crime fiction writes as part of the lecture audience, Lisa Gardner really is enjoying writing this short story and at the same time cleverly promoting her next book. Does she realise that in Western Australia we hold a similar series of lectures for authors, readers, writers and various “experts”, CrimeScene WA where indeed blood splatter, evidence, poisons, famous crimes etc are open for discussion. Love the connection here.

Post Script – Grand Slam – Kathryn Ledson

Grand Slam

Grand Slam

Erica Jewell #3

Kathryn Ledson

Penguin Books

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9780143799757



Erica Jewell can’t worry about hunky hired gun, Jack Jones, and his commitment-phobic ways right now. She’s flat out managing Dega Oil’s sponsorship of the Australian Open tennis tournament, and doing a pretty good job. That is until a devastating oil-rig explosion sends Dega’s reputation and share price plummeting.


Public outrage over the incident upsets Emilio Méndez – the Open’s biggest draw card – and he wants to cut all ties with Dega. When Erica is sent to calm him, superstitious Emilio becomes convinced he needs her by his side to win. He demands she stay close, and the media annoyingly misinterprets their relationship, much to Jack’s irritation. Meanwhile danger lurks, threatening Emilio and Erica, and she must race against time to discover: Who’s trying to kill them and why?


From the elite inner sanctum of the Australian Open to the packed halls of Chadstone Shopping Centre, can Australia’s favourite accidental heroine save her job, Emilio, and her so-called relationship with Jack Jones?



My View:

Loved every funny, over the top crazy piece of action in this book – another great Erica (aka Emily) Jewell adventure 🙂

PS I loved Emilio – I had pictures in my head of a certain tennis player – *sighs* Fans face :):) 🙂


Well I think those few words pretty accurately sums up my reaction to this book – I loved it, it was so much fun to read and I often found myself laughing out loud. This is another great Australian narrative – full of familiar landmarks, Aussie idioms, self-depreciating humour, with a feisty female protagonist who is fearless, sassy, smart and adventurous ( and who loves cats) and a tennis player who is again a little over the top but is just so prefect this way – dashing, handsome, self-centred, did I mention gorgeous, handsome , dashing?? And then we have Jack Jones – super hero extraordinaire. This book is delight to read and it feels like Kathryn Ledson loves writing this series just as much as I love reading it, I know you will love this book too.


**Can be read as a standalone.




When Your Garden Gives You Tomatoes

It is tomato season and we have an abundance of tomatoes once more. I have been bottling pasta sauce – with all home grown ingredients – eggplant, capsicum, zucchini, onions, chillies and tomatoes in a variety of combinations of the previous listed ingredients.  My pantry is full!


Tomatoes 001



pasta sauce



Now I am finding recipes to use up large quantities of fresh tomatoes. Last night I made a rustic Shakshuka based on the recipe in Falafel for Breakfast by Michael Rantissi and Kristy Frawley .  In my “rustic” version I did not skin the tomatoes, merely chopped and simmered with onions and capsicums ( peppers) my garden had red and yellow so that is what I used, spices, chilies, and at the last few minutes added cherry tomatoes and a few shredded leaves of silver beet ( as per Michaels suggestion). The earthy silver beet goes perfectly with the rich sweetness of the tomatoes and capsicum.  Add eggs to complete. Delicious!  ( A dollop of Natural Greek yoghurt or lebneh when serving makes this meal in pan a heavenly treat). Great for breakfast or dinner.