Review: Clean – Juno Dawson

Clean by Juno Dawson cover art

Clean

Juno Dawson

Hachette Children’s Books

Quercus

ISBN: 9781786540362

 

Description:

I can feel it swimming through my veins like glitter … it’s liquid gold.

 

When socialite Lexi Volkov almost overdoses, she thinks she’s hit rock bottom.

 

She’s wrong. Rock bottom is when she’s forced into an exclusive rehab facility.

 

From there, the only way is up for Lexi and her fellow inmates, including the mysterious Brady.

 

As she faces her demons, Lexi realises love is the most powerful drug of all…

 

It’s a dirty business getting clean…

 

 

My View:

The perfect read for YA and adult readers; issues that connect and resonate, flawed characters with redeeming features, a narrative that illuminates many contemporary social and mental health issues that you do not need to live a life of excess to appreciate.

 

And I should add – THE BEST cover art this year! I love the rose gold shimmer…the hypodermic needle punctuating the cover, leaving a drop of red blood. Such a great image. And a wonderful tactile experience holding this glossy, liquid gold book in your hand.

 

This is engaging reading taking you on a journey I hope you never need to experience.

 

 

 

 

 

Post Script: The Nowhere Child – Christian White

Nowhere Child by Christian White cover art

The Nowhere Child

Christian White

Affirm Press

ISBN: 9781925584523

 

Description:

‘Her name is Sammy Went. This photo was taken on her second birthday. Three days later she was gone.’

 

On a break between teaching photography classes, Kim Leamy is approached by a stranger investigating the disappearance of a little girl from her Kentucky home twenty-eight years earlier. He believes she is that girl.

 

At first Kim brushes it off, but when she scratches the surface of her family background in Australia, questions arise that aren’t easily answered. To find the truth, she must travel to Sammy’s home of Manson, Kentucky, and into a dark past. As the mystery unravels and the town’s secrets are revealed, this superb novel builds towards a tense, terrifying, and entirely unexpected climax.

 

Inspired by Gillian Flynn’s frenetic suspense and Stephen King’s masterful world-building, The Nowhere Child is a combustible tale of trauma, cult, conspiracy and memory. It is the remarkable debut of Christian White, an exhilarating new Australian talent attracting worldwide attention.

 

 

My View:

Fabulous read!

Debut novelists and their novels are often a risk; you don’t know anything about their writing, good, bad or indifferent. You often do not know any one else who has read the book to get a personal recommendation. You open the page totally without any expectations other than hoping that this will indeed be a great read, become your next must read author.

 

Take a risk! There is so much talent waiting for you to discover.  I have just added Christian White to my “must read authors” list. Christian has written a book that is subtle yet thought provoking. He has a written a book that is intriguing, engaging and demands to be read in one sitting. Listen to those demands; clear your calendar, turn off the TV and immerse yourself in this stunning narrative. You will thank me for the recommendation, I have just lessened your risk.

 

PS I predict awards for this book.

 

 

 

Guest Review: The Peacock Summer – Hannah Richell

The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell cover art

The Peacock Summer

Hannah Richell

Hachette AU

ISBN: 9780733640438

Description:

Two summers, decades apart. Two women whose lives are forever entwined. And a house that holds the secrets that could free them both.

At twenty-six, Lillian feels ancient and exhausted. Her marriage to Charles Oberon has not turned out the way she thought it would. To her it seems she is just another beautiful object captured within the walls of Cloudesley, her husband’s Chilterns manor house. But, with a young stepson and a sister to care for, Lillian accepts there is no way out for her. Then Charles makes an arrangement with an enigmatic artist visiting their home and her world is turned on its head.

Maggie Oberon ran from the hurt and resentment she caused. Half a world away, in Australia, it was easier to forget, to pretend she didn’t care. But when her grandmother, Lillian, falls ill Maggie must head back to Cloudesley. Forced to face her past, she will learn that all she thought was real, all that she held so close, was never as it seemed.

Brenda’s Review:

Lillian was a naïve young woman of twenty-one when the wealthy and aristocratic Charles Oberon asked for her hand in marriage. She only had her beloved sister Helene to care for, and Charles assured her he would take care of her needs. Lillian loved Charles’ six-year-old son, Albie and in her innocence, thought she could make a difference to the man who had lost so much. Living in the Chilterns manor house, Cloudesley, Lillian began to feel trapped and caged – but she had no choice. This was her life and her future with a damaged and volatile husband.

The summer that Charles hired a young artist to do a commission for him in one of the rooms of the manor became a changing point in Lillian’s life. Lillian was twenty-six, exhausted and robotic in her endeavours to keep her husband happy. The constant parties where she needed to impress drained the life from her – it was only Albie who kept her sane. But then Jack arrived…

Almost sixty years later, Maggie Oberon, Lillian’s granddaughter, was in Australia when she received the phone call to say her beloved grandmother had taken ill. Immediately rushing to be by her side, Maggie knew she would face aggression and censure over the events of her leaving twelve months prior. But her priority was Lillian. She had raised Maggie – and Maggie owed her everything. But Cloudesley was falling into ruin – the repairs the old manor needed were too many to be attempted; the debts insurmountable. What would Maggie do?

As the past slowly came to light, Maggie found it only created more questions. Would she be able to decipher the secrets of Cloudesley, or would the manor keep them hidden for all time?

The long awaited new novel from Aussie author Hannah Richell does not disappoint. The Peacock Summer, apart from having a divine cover, is a heartbreaking and heartfelt story of love, loss and dark secrets. The answer to one of the questions when it came, was a shock – I didn’t see it coming! Poignant, intriguing and utterly captivating, The Peacock Summer is one I have no hesitation in highly recommending – 5 stars.

With thanks to Hachette AU for my copy to read and review.

Post Script: Book of Colours – Robyn Cadwallader

The Book of Colours

The Book of Colours

Robyn Cadwallader

Harper Collins Australia

4th Estate

ISBN: 978 1 4607 5221 0

 

Description:

From Robyn Cadwallader, author of the internationally acclaimed novel The Anchoress, comes a deeply profound and moving novel of the importance of creativity and the power of connection, told through the story of the commissioning of a gorgeously decorated medieval manuscript, a Book of Hours.

 

London, 1321: In a small stationer’s shop in Paternoster Row, three people are drawn together around the creation of a magnificent book, an illuminated manuscript of prayers, a Book of Hours. Even though the commission seems to answer the aspirations of each one of them, their own desires and ambitions threaten its completion. As each struggles to see the book come into being, it will change everything they have understood about their place in the world. In many ways, this is a story about power – it is also a novel about the place of women in the roiling and turbulent world of the early fourteenth century; what power they have, how they wield it, and just how temporary and conditional it is.

 

Rich, deep, sensuous and full of life, Book of Colours is also, most movingly, a profoundly beautiful story about creativity and connection, and our instinctive need to understand our world and communicate with others through the pages of a book.

 

‘Cadwallader’s writing evokes a heightened attention to the senses: you might never read a novel so sensuous yet unconcerned with romantic love. For this alone it is worth seeking out. But also because The Anchoress achieves what every historical novel attempts: reimagining the past while opening a new window – like a squint, perhaps – to our present lives.’ Sydney Morning Herald

 

‘A novel of page-turning grace’ Newtown Review of Books

 

 

My View:

A fantastic read that has a Dickenson like bleakness juxtaposed against the passion and the colour of the limners for their craft; a black/grey existence versus illumination and colour, creativity, life.

 

In depth research, locations that leap of the page, characters and their circumstances that will touch your heart, this is a great read.

 

And there is a bonus for all art lovers/creators – each chapter is prefaced with a paragraph or two from a book that one of the character is writing about their craft “The Art of illumination.”  I appreciated every word.

 

 

 

 

Herby Salt Rub: The Art of Herbs for Health – Rebecca Sullivan

 

The Art of Herbs for Health by Rebecca Sullivan ($19.99), published by Hachette Australia.

 

Taken from The Art of  Herbs for Health by Rebecca Sullivan. Published by Kyle Books.
Photography by Nassima Rothacker.

 

HERBY SALT RUB

Turn boring meat and veg into a restaurant quality meal simply by adding some herbs and spices. Make a jar of this to keep in your pantry and use it on everything. This is another great little jar that makes a lovely gift. p75

 

MAKES 1 SMALL JAR
1½ tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon dried chilli flakes
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoons whole yellow mustard seeds, crushed
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 dried bay leaves, crushed
125g good-quality sea salt

sterilised small jar with lid or airtight container

 

Place all the ingredients in the jar. Put on the lid and shake until the ingredients are combined, then store in a cool, dry place for up  to a year.

Use as a rub or a sprinkle on raw meats and veggies before roasting, as required.

 

Tip: Mix and match with your choice  of herbs and spices with salt.  Shake, store and rub.

Toilet Bombs: The Art of Natural Cleaning – Rebecca Sullivan

The Art of Natural Cleaning by Rebecca Sullivan ($19.99), published by Hachette Australia.

TOILET BOMBS

These are so cool. I prefer to make them without a mould, but you can do either. If you’re not using a mould, you may find your mix is too dry, so just add a few drops of water until you can shape the mix into balls. Leave them to dry properly before storing. If they break, fret not, as they still do their job. p.44

 

Toilet bombs

Taken from The Art of Natural Cleaning by Rebecca Sullivan

Photography by Nassima Rothacker

MAKES 10–12
250g bicarbonate of soda
80g citric acid
food colouring (optional)
dried flower petals, such as rose or lavender to decorate, slightly crushed (optional)
10 drops of rose essential oil
10 drops of lavender essential oil
5 drops of lemon essential oil

rubber gloves
cotton face mask
spray bottle
glass jar, for storage
ice cube trays or jelly molds

Wear rubber gloves and a face mask, not because the citric acid is a bad chemical, but it is strong and if it goes down your throat the wrong way you will cough. Mix the bicarbonate of soda and citric acid together in a glass bowl. Fill a spray bottle with some cold water and then very gradually spray water into the mix in the bowl, stirring as you go. You want to add just enough water (so hardly any) to make the ingredients stick together. You can add a few drops of food colouring or dried flower petals too, if you like.

Add the essential oils and continue mixing. Form the mixture into single-use sizes by pressing into small ball shapes or similar walnut-sized balls using your hands (or you can use individual moulds, such as ice cube trays, to shape the mixture). Place them on a tray and leave to dry overnight, then carefully transfer the bombs (popping them out of the moulds, if necessary) to a glass jar or other airtight container and close the lid. These will keep for up to 3 months.

To use, drop one into the toilet pan, leave it to dissolve and flush on the next use. Use as necessary, but no more than once a day

Post Script: The Art of Natural Cleaning, Natural Beauty, Edible Flowers and Herbs for Health – Rebecca Sullivan

 

    The Art of Edible Flowers ISBN: 978 0 85783 478 8

    The Art of Natural Beauty ISBN: 978 0 85783 478 2

     The Art of Natural Cleaning ISBN: 978 0 85783 475 1

    The Art of Herbs for Health ISBN: 978 0 85783 477 5

Rebecca Sullivan

Hachette Australia

Kyle Books

Description:

As there are 4 books in this series I am having trouble fitting the descriptions into my format – so I’ll just post one description– as a sample of the type of chemical free products you can make from these books.

 

From The Art of Natural Beauty:

From Avocado and Rose Face Oil to Salt and Macadamia Hair Spritz, this handy little guide is the perfect companion for anyone who wants to save money (and the planet) by ditching chemical-filled, mass-produced beauty products and making their own natural ones at home. Rebecca Sullivan has researched and tested a whole range of treats and treatments for your face, body and hair, and even your teeth.

 

Keep skin touchably soft with Chocolate Orange Body Butter, and create your own make up palette using petal powders. With Lavender Lip Scrub and Elderflower Night Cream, the ideas in this book will inspire you to overhaul your entire cosmetic collection and embrace the art of natural beauty.

 

My View:

I love this how to series of natural products/recipes, the books are perfect for anyone who is trying to detox their home, live a chemical free life and save money.

 

“Rebecca Sullivan is an eco-agronomist, activist, food writer, urban farmer, entrepreneur and home cook. She is passionate about heritage, preserving traditions, and passing on a wealth of ‘granny skills’ to future generations. She is the author of The Art of the Natural Home, also published by Kyle Books, and Like Grandma Used to Make, published in Australia. @grannyskills (Instagram).” https://www.hachette.com.au/rebecca-sullivan/

 

The ingredients used in these books are not difficult to source – many you will find in your kitchen pantry or garden and Rebecca provides a section at the back of each book called “resources” where she lists suppliers – by region.

 

Over the next few days I will post a couple of the recipes that I am keen to try. Easy to make, cheap and chemical free- what’s not to love?