Art Inspired by: Chapter 19 – The Witch Who Courted Death – Maria Lewis

A great Halloween read – and an artist’s inspiration 🙂 

The Witch Who Courted Death

Maria Lewis

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780349421292

RRP $ 29.99



For some, death is a way of life . . .

Considering her status as the world’s most powerful medium, Corvossier ‘Casper’ von Klitzing and her twin brother Barastin had a pretty normal life. Her unrivalled ability to speak with and control the dead had made her a living, made her notorious … and made her a target.

After a horrific incident in her home city of Berlin, Casper’s life is forever changed. The sole survivor, she is consumed with vengeance towards an enemy she doesn’t understand. The only other person ever to escape the legendary Oct was a witch – so Casper is soon on her trail.

But this witch does not want to be found.

Diving headfirst into the supernaturally secretive world of spells, charms and covens, it’s not long before Casper is crossing much more than just the line between the living and the dead . . .

This time reinventing witches and ghosts with a much-needed feminist twist, The Witch Who Courted Death is a brand new title from the bestselling author of Who’s Afraid?


My View:

Another book I am sure that will soon make it on to the small screen – a great ghoulish love story! And great inspiration for this artist.


Description:  Chapter 19 ” Arachnia V the Medium  ” Acrylic on canvas. Orginal art work by (C) carol seeley 


Chapter 19 "Arachnia V The Medium  




Guest Review: Suitcase of Dreams – Tanya Blanchard


Suitcase of Dreams

Suitcase of Dreams

Tanya Blanchard

Simon & Schuster AU

ISBN: 9781925596168


From the bestselling author of The Girl from Munich, a sweeping, dramatic tale of love and identity, inspired by a true story.

After enduring the horror of Nazi Germany and the chaos of postwar occupation, Lotte Drescher and her family arrive in Australia in 1956 full of hope for a new life. It’s a land of opportunity, where Lotte and her husband Erich dream of giving their children the future they have always wanted.

After years of struggling to find their feet as New Australians, Erich turns his skill as a wood carver into a successful business and Lotte makes a career out of her lifelong passion, photography. The sacrifices they have made finally seem worth it until Erich’s role in the trade union movement threatens to have him branded a communist and endanger their family. Then darker shadows of the past reach out to them from Germany, a world and a lifetime away.

As the Vietnam War looms, an unexpected visitor forces Lotte to a turning point. Her decision will change her life forever . . . and will finally show her the true meaning of home.


Brenda’s Review:

Arriving at Bonegilla, the migrant camp in rural Victoria near the NSW border, after the long sea voyage from Germany on the Skaubryn, Lotte Drescher and her husband Erich, plus daughters Greta and Johanna, were excited but nervous about their future in Australia. Their life was beginning anew; it was 1956 and they were filled with hope.

But life wasn’t easy – Erich struggled to find a job after their arrival in Sydney. His qualifications as an engineer weren’t recognized in Australia and he had to re-study if he wanted to follow that course. The family’s lack of funds made that option unavailable, at least for the time being. But eventually, after much struggle, trauma and heartache, Erich was working from home as a wood carver – following in his father’s footsteps. And Lotte was fulfilling her heart’s desire of being a photographer. They were happy.

Until subtle – and not so subtle – innuendos began to corrupt their lives. Erich’s position in the trade union movement and his determination to help other migrants was beginning to endanger his family. And with the Vietnam War about to draw Australia in, Erich and Lotte’s challenges were great. What would be the outcome in a future that was uncertain?

Book #2 in The Girl From Munich series by Aussie author Tania Blanchard was exceptional in my opinion. I loved the first, The Girl From Munich and Suitcase of Dreams didn’t disappoint. Based on the true story of the author’s grandparents, their arrival from Germany in 1956 to Bonegilla, and their stay in the Villawood hostel in Sydney, before their own living quarters and a job were found, I was fascinated but saddened at the hardships the family suffered. An excellent rendition of fact to fiction, I highly recommend Ms Blanchard’s follow up, Suitcase of Dreams but advise reading them in order of publication. 5 stars.

With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.

TORTA DE DURAZNO, Peach Cake: The Food of Argentina – Ross Dobson & Rachel Tolosa Paz


From The Food of Argentina: Asado, empanadas, dulce de leche and more by Ross Dobson and Rachel Tolosa Paz. Photography © Rachel Tolosa Paz | Food styling © Vanessa Austin (Smith Street Books, November 2018 – AU$ 49.99, NZ$ 59.99)



Peach cake


250 ml (8½ fl oz/1 cup) full-cream (whole) milk

1 tablespoon lemon juice

300 g (10½ oz/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour

80 g (2¾ oz/¾ cup) almond meal

1 teaspoon baking powder

250 g (9 oz) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature, plus extra for greasing

460 g (1 lb/2 cups) caster (superfine) sugar

4 eggs

185 ml (6 fl oz/¾ cup) pouring (single/light) cream

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons icing (confectioners’) sugar

2 peaches, stones removed, cut into thin wedges


Peach cake


Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease and line a 23 cm (9 in) springform cake tin with baking paper.


Combine the milk and lemon juice in a small bowl and set aside.


Combine the flour, almond meal and baking powder in another bowl and set aside.


Using electric beaters or a stand mixer, beat the butter and gradually add the sugar, until pale and creamy. Add 1 egg and beat until well combined, then repeat with the remaining eggs, beating well between each addition.


Beat through half the milk mixture followed by half the flour mixture, until well combined. Repeat with the remaining milk and flour mixtures.


Transfer the batter to the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.


Leave the cake to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, then remove from the tin and transfer to a serving plate. Use a large serrated knife to cut the cake in half horizontally and carefully remove the top half.


Beat the cream, vanilla and 2 tablespoons of the icing sugar to form soft peaks. Spread half the cream on the bottom layer of the cake, then carefully replace the top layer of the cake. Spread the remaining cream over the top and arrange the sliced peaches on the cream. Finely sieve the remaining icing sugar over the cake, then cut into thick slices and serve.


Authors note:

‘Verdulerías’ (fruit and vegetable stalls) are always immaculately presented in Argentina, with lined-up produce glistening with water droplets. As with many local shops, when you buy produce, you need to speak to the shopkeeper to find and purchase what you are looking for. It is a lovely exchange that usually ends up in a friendly chat.

The size and climate of Argentina means that most fruit can be grown there. In summer, stone fruit, such as peaches, are at their peak and are a beautiful addition to cakes. If peaches aren’t in season, nectarines, plums and berries will work just as nicely in this recipe.

PAPAS RELLENAS CON QUESO CREMA Y CEBOLLA DE VERDEO: Stuffed Potatoes with Cream Cheese and Spring Onion – The Food Of Argentina – Ross Dobson & Rachel Tolosa Paz


From The Food of Argentina: Asado, empanadas, dulce de leche and more by Ross Dobson and Rachel Tolosa Paz. Photography © Rachel Tolosa Paz | Food styling © Vanessa Austin (Smith Street Books, November 2018 – AU$ 49.99, NZ$ 59.99)



Stuffed potatoes with cream cheese and spring onion


Stuffed potatoes


4 large potatoes

1 tablespoon pouring (single/light) cream

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced, plus extra to garnish

50 g (1¾ oz) coarsely grated provolone

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over high heat and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, cover and set aside for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are completely tender. Drain well and rinse under cold water.


Cut about 5 mm (¼ in) off the length of each potato, so they sit flat on a work surface. Cut about 1 cm (½ in) off the opposite ends, then scoop out about 1 tablespoon of the flesh. Put the scooped-out potato in a bowl and roughly mash with a fork, then add the cream, garlic, spring onion and provolone, and season well with salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture into the potatoes, then set aside or refrigerate until needed. These can be made a day in advance.


Preheat a barbecue hotplate to medium. Wrap the potatoes in foil and place, stuffed side up, on the hotplate. Cover with the lid or a large baking dish and cook for 20 minutes, until heated through and the bottoms are crisp and golden.


Scatter a little extra spring onion over the top and serve hot.


Authors note:

Potatoes slow-cooked in foil are a ubiquitous, although worthy, item at any good barbecue. This version takes the humble spud to another level. Make sure you set aside enough time to cook the potatoes until they are fork-tender – you should never need a knife to cut a spud! These potatoes are par-cooked before being wrapped in foil and finished off on the barbecue.

MORRONES A LA PARRILLA CON HUEVO Y QUESO – Barbecued Capsicum with Egg and Pecorino – Ross Dobson & Rachel Tolosa Paz


From The Food of Argentina: Asado, empanadas, dulce de leche and more by Ross Dobson and Rachel Tolosa Paz. Photography © Rachel Tolosa Paz | Food styling © Vanessa Austin (Smith Street Books, November 2018 – AU$ 49.99, NZ$ 59.99)





Barbecued capsicum with egg and pecorino



BBQ Capsicum

4 medium red capsicums (bell peppers)

8 eggs

90 g (3 oz/1 cup) finely grated pecorino

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


Cut each capsicum in half lengthways, remove the stalks, seeds and white membrane and discard.


Preheat a barbecue hotplate or grill plate to high.


Place the capsicum on the barbecue and cook, turning frequently, for 10–15 minutes – you want the capsicum to be soft, but not too charred.


Turn the capsicum so they are cut side up, crack an egg into each half, then close the lid of the barbecue and cook for 8–10 minutes, until the eggs have set.


To serve, sprinkle over the cheese and parsley, and drizzle over the olive oil.


Authors note:

This is a novel and colourful way to cook eggs and capsicums (bell peppers). The capsicums should be soft and tender, so give them some time alone on the barbecue before cracking in the eggs.

For a slight variation on this recipe, lay a thin slice of provolone over each egg instead of using pecorino.

Review: The Food of Argentina: Asado, Empanadas, Dulce De Leche and More – Ross Dobson & Rachel Tolosa Paz


The Food Of Argentina

Asado, Empanadas, Dulce De Leche & more

Ross Dobson & Rachel Tolosa Paz

Smith Street books

ISBN: 9781925418712

RRP $49.99



With more than eighty recipes, The Food of Argentina celebrates the very best dishes from a passionate foodie nation which, until now, have been kept under relative lock and key.


The Food of Argentina is a rich and visual celebration of Argentinean food filled with beautiful location and food photography that takes the reader on a gastronomic journey into a little-known cuisine that is tipped to become the next global food trend for food lovers everywhere. Some people may have heard of Argentinean asados–the legendary meat barbecues that are so beloved by locals, but The Food of Argentina celebrates so much more than a carnivore’s dream.


Come inside the homes and families of Argentina and discover the very best recipes this huge food loving nation has to offer. Often influenced by their European heritage but with a distinct South American feel, home-style dishes include pastas and gnocchi, potato tortillas, and stews and casseroles, as well as sweet offerings including dulce de leche, strudels, and caramel flans. Or head outside and discover the local delicacies offered in Argentina’s tiny bars and eateries: chorizo rolls with salsa criolla, traditional empanadas, veal croquettes, and fruit-filled pastries. And let’s not forget the famous mate–a strong herbal tea that is Argentina’s traditional drink and adored by locals countrywide. Lose yourself in The Food of Argentina and discover a whole new cuisine from the comfort of your own kitchen.


My View:

Until I started perusing this book I had no idea how much in common, gastronomically, Australia has with Argentina. As I turned the pages I saw many of my favourite recipes – gnocchi with beef ragu, steak sandwiches, tomato and ricotta tart, silver beet pie, pizza, rice pudding, caramel flan, apple cake…the list goes on. Sometimes the recipes may have an interesting twist on the version I am used to but interesting is flavoursome and good.  And then there are the foods I associate with traditional Argentina – empanadas, tortillas…dulce de leche. This book is packed with flavour.


So where do I begin?My favourites  I think include the Asdao – flame grilled foods to share with family and friends. There is such a large choice of foods to cook this way – meats, breads, pizza and the side dishes to serve with them.  A veritable feast!


And then the la merienda – a sort of afternoon tea – comprising cakes, pastries… toasted sandwiches. Was I surprised to find a comfort food from my childhood (and a recipe I should revive) Cuadraditos de Coco Y Mermelda or you may know this as Coconut and Jam Slice. My late mother was fond of making this as a snack to have when we returned home from school or for afternoon tea. I can’t wait to make this myself and share with my own family.


Argentina – “A place where the people understand that food, time and talking brings us together.” (p.11)






Review: Take Me In – Sabine Durrant

Take Me In

Take Me In

Sabine Durrant

Hachette Australia

Mulholland Books


ISBN: 9781473608368

RRP $29.99



The sensational new thriller from the author of the Richard & Judy bestseller Lie With Me.


‘Need a reminder of what makes thrillers great? Read this.’ Emerald Street


Tessa and Marcus went on holiday to save their marriage.

Instead they nearly lost their son.


In that fatal moment of inattention a stranger stepped in. And now Dave Jepsom is in their lives.


They owe him – they know that – but he seems to want everything. He’s on the streets they walk down. He’s at the office where they work. He’s knocking at their front door…


And he’s exposing secrets they would do anything to hide.


If they could just go back. Not make that one terrible mistake.


But it’s never how it starts that matters. It’s always how it ends.



My View:

I am a big fan of this author. She never fails to surprise me, to lead me completely and easily away from the essence of truth in the narrative, I am always amazed and sometimes petrified by the end of the story.


You will read this in two sittings: there is so much tension, so much anticipation of the worst to come that you will walk away and let the knots unravel in your stomach before you pick this book up again and finish reading. A powerful read.

Review: Oi Duck-billed Platypus – Kes Gray and Jim Field

Oi Duck Billed Platypus!

Oi Duck-billed Platypus!

Kes Gray and Jim Field

Hachette Children’s Books

Hodder Children’s Books

ISBN: 9781444937329

RRP $ 24.99



A brilliantly funny, rhyming read-aloud picture book – jam-packed with animals and silliness! From the bestselling, multi-award-winning creators of Oi Frog!


Oi! Where are duck-billed platypuses meant to sit?

And Kookaburras and hippopotamuses and all the other animals with impossible to rhyme with names…

Over to you Frog!


The laughter never ends with Oi Frog and Friends


Praise for Oi Frog!:

‘An absolute treat.’ – Daily Mail

‘Everyone will love it.’ – Guardian


Oi Frog and Friends is a Top Ten Bestselling series. Oi Dog! won the 2017 Laugh Out Loud Awards (among others). And Oi Goat! was a 2018 World Book Day Book.



My View:

 A delightful read out loud kind of book, glorious illustrations and rhyming silliness that all young children will adore.



Geode Bomb : Fizz Boom Bath – Isabel Bercaw & Caroline Bercaw

Fizz Boom Bath!

Images and text from Fizz Boom Bath by Isabel Bercaw & Caroline Bercaw, Quarto US, RRP $27.99. Photography by Evie Abeler


Fizz Boom Bath © 2018 by Quarto Publishing Group USA Inc. Da Bomb is a registered trademark of Da Bomb, LLC. “Sisterpreneurs” is a trademark of Da Bomb, LLC. Photography: Evi Abeler. First published in 2018 by Rock Point, an imprint of The Quarto Group 142 West 36th Street, 4th Floor New York, NY 10018 USA.


Geode Bomb (Page 49)





Fizz Boom Bath - Geode Bomb





¾ CUP (180 ML) OIL










1 In a large bowl, mix together the baking soda, citric acid, and cornstarch.


2 In a separate bowl, combine the oil and fragrance.


3 Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix with your hands until the mixture becomes the consistency of wet sand. (If you don’t like to get your hands messy, you can wear rubber gloves for this part.) The more vigorous your mixing style, the better the ingredients will be distributed, so don’t be shy. Five minutes of stirring, compressing, and kneading should do the trick.


4 Press a ½-inch (13 mm) layer of bath bomb mix into the mold. The sides should be higher than the center, like the peel of a hollowed-out orange, and the edges should be a bit ragged. Allow to dry completely before removing from the molds.


5 Next, add a few drops of rubbing alcohol to the silver mica. Stir until a thin paste forms. With a paintbrush, paint the outside of the bomb with the paste. Let sit for 1 hour.


6 Add approximately 1 tablespoon of coarse sea salt to each painted half sphere, making sure to spread the salt to the outer edges of the half sphere.


7 Next, add 12–15 drops of liquid color to the 8 remaining tablespoons of coarse sea salt and mix well to distribute the color.


8 Add the colored sea salt to the center of the bomb and spread it out, as desired.


Note: Spreading it to the very outer edge of the mold will create the most realistic-looking geode.


9 Heat the coconut oil in the microwave for a few seconds to melt it. Using a pipette or spoon, distribute the coconut oil, drop by drop, over the sea salt to bind it together.


10 Let harden and sprinkle the eco glitter on top to complete the look.