Guest Review: Invisible Boys – Holden Shepherd

This must be the standout book of the year – everyone is talking about this. Read what guest viewer Andy Macleod thought of this award winning debut novel.

Invisible Boys

Holden Shepherd

Fremantle Press

ISBN: 9781925815566 

 

Description:

In a small town, everyone thinks they know you: Charlie is a hardcore rocker, who’s not as tough as he looks. Hammer is a footy jock with big AFL dreams, and an even bigger ego. Zeke is a shy over-achiever, never macho enough for his family. But all three boys hide who they really are. When the truth is revealed, will it set them free or blow them apart?

Invisible Boys is a raw, confronting YA novel, tackling homosexuality, masculinity, anger and suicide with a nuanced and unique perspective. Set in regional Western Australia, the novel follows three sixteen-year-old boys in the throes of coming to terms with their homosexuality in a town where it is invisible – and so are they. Invisible Boys depicts the complexities and trauma of rural gay identity with painful honesty, devastating consequence and, ultimately, hope.

 

Invisible Boys – A review by Andy Macleod

Up until two days ago, I had only once before sobbed uncontrollably while reading a novel. It was Skallagrig, by William Horwood. It was the 1980s and I was in my twenties.

I’m now in my late fifties, and I’ve just finished Holden Sheppard‘s award-winning debut novel, Invisible Boys.

Set in Geraldton in WA’s Midwest, Invisible Boys follows three very different teenagers, Charlie, Hammer and Zeke, as they grapple with being gay in a very straight town.

This novel spoke directly to me like no other. The characters and I, although separated by nearly a generation, have a lot in common.

We share not only a hometown, but the fear, rejection, taunts and loneliness that came with being gay in it.

Finally, someone has put into words the trauma of my own experience growing up gay when I couldn’t.

When I finished Invisible Boys, I felt something crack, crumble and fall away deep inside. I’m still unpacking what that may have been. Possibly shame, maybe silence. I’ll need to work on it.

Is Invisible Boys only a book for gay men? Absolutely not. If nothing else, it’s also a great story, and I hope it becomes required reading in the high school curriculum.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, but whatever you do, you won’t regret reading Invisible Boys.

My favourite laugh-out loud-moment would have to be the ‘onion rings’ reference.

 

 

#MondayMunchies Roadside Treasure Cake ( Apple & Blackberry Tray Cake): Family Food & Feelings – Kate Berry

 

‘Family, Food and Feelings by Kate Berry, Published by Plum, RRP $39.99, Photography by Kate Berry’

 

“When we lived in the hills, every autumn the girls and I kept a close eye on the roadside apple trees, checking on their progress and making sure no one had swooped in before us. It was a game of luck. Sometimes we’d get in first; sometimes we’d lose to another apple poacher, or to the birds. But when we did win, it was on. We’d park the car under
the tree, grab the baskets from the boot and take our positions: Pepper on the roof for the higher apples, me on the boot and Maya at ground level.
As for blackberries, well those guys were just everywhere, and they’re prickly. So even though they taste delicious, they just weren’t as fun. But I do love the metaphor that can be found somewhere within the hostile blackberry bush … with a little care and time you’re rewarded with something sweet and delicious.” p115

180 g (1½ cups) spelt flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
55 g (½ cup) hazelnut meal
155 g (2/3 cup) brown sugar
3 free-range eggs
100 g coconut oil
150 g plain yoghurt
2 apples (we’d use whatever variety we happened to find), cored and cut into eighths
200 g blackberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan-forced). Line a lamington tin with baking paper.
Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder into a mixing bowl.

Stir in the hazelnut meal and set aside.

Place the sugar and eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk for 5 minutes or
until thick and pale. Add the coconut oil and yoghurt and whisk until well combined.

Gently fold the flour mixture into the yoghurt mixture until just combined – take care not to overmix.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin and spread it out nicely. Arrange the apples in an even layer on top of the batter, then squish the blackberries in between.

Bake for 40 minutes or until golden on top and firm to the touch, and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely in the tin, then cut into squares and serve.

SERVES 16

Gas Station Charcuterie Plate: You Suck At Cooking – You Suck At Cooking

My View:This book is hilarious and useful 🙂  And possibly will solve your search for “what to get the person who has everything” for Christmas. Check out the authors  Youtube cooking show here:

 

Description:

Do you crave food all the time? Do you think you might want to eat again in the future? Do you suck at cooking? Inspired by the wildly popular YouTube channel, these 60+ recipes will help you suck slightly less

You already know the creator of the YouTube show You Suck at Cooking by his well-manicured hands and mysterious voice, and now you’ll know him for this equally well-manicured and mysterious tome. It contains more than sixty recipes for beginner cooks and noobs alike, in addition to hundreds of paragraphs and sentences, as well as photos and drawings.

You’ll learn to cook with unintimidating ingredients in dishes like Broccoli Cheddar Quiche Cupcake Muffin-Type Things, Eddie’s Roasted Red Pepper Dip (while also learning all about Eddie’s sad, sad life), Jalapeno Chicken, and also other stuff. In addition, there are cooking tips that can be applied not only to the very recipes in this book, but also to recipes outside of this book, and to all other areas of your life (with mixed results).

In the end, you just might suck slightly less at cooking.*

*Results not guaranteed

Extract from You Suck at Cooking, photography by Andrew Thomas Lee,
published by Ebury Australia on 19 November 2019, RRP $29.99

 

GAS STATION CHARCUTERIE PLATE p.88

SERVES HOWEVER MANY PEOPLE ARE COMING OVER
Washer fluid
Gasoline of your choice
Pepperoni sticks
Almonds
Beef jerky
Cheese
Roasted almonds
Salted pistachios
Honey-roasted peanuts
Barbecue peanuts
Pumpkin seeds
Sunflower seeds
Dark chocolate
Any other interesting snacks
you can find at a gas station
1  Pop the hood of your car and locate translucent white tank with a water symbol
cap and close the hood.

2  Fill your gas tank with gas.

3 Go inside the store with actual money like it’s the old fashioned days. Locate any interesting snacks and purchase
them, and don’t forget to pay for,go home and wash the gasoline off your hands.

4  Cut the pepperoni sticks into bite-sized pieces. Cut them on an angle if you’re feeling extra fancy.

5 Arrange all the snacks on a plate, platter, or serving board in a way that makes sense, such as grouping nuts and meats together, or putting nuts and meats as far away as possible from each other. Serve, and never tell your date where the snacks came from.

*The Gas Station Charcuterie Plate is possible because we live in the golden age of mobile snacking. It is also bound to be a hit because of the human tendency to equate variety with quality. Which is not to say the foods at gas stations are of low quality. It’s just easy to take for granted the fact that you can get food, on a whim, at any time of the day or night, at these lonely fossil fuel outposts. In the future, a mobile rest stop subscription service will pull up beside you while you’re driving, refuel your car, give you snacks, and let you use the restroom, all at 105
kilometres per hour. And the fuel will be laser beams.

 

#MeatFreeMonday :Spring Veggie Fritters with Cucumber Yoghurt – Family Food & Feelings – Kate Berry

Family Food and Feelings

Kate Berry

Pan Macmillan

Plum

ISBN: 978176078-180-4

RRP 39.99

 

 Green Fritters 
“Fritters are a bit of a fave for us. I like them because I can cook a ton of them for dinner and then chuck the leftovers in the girls’ lunchboxes the next day. The girls like them because they’re fried and have a dipping sauce. I like them for that reason too, actually.”p202

220 g green beans, quartered
220 g fresh or frozen and thawed peas
220 g podded and peeled broad beans
4 spring onions, green andwhite parts, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
salt and pepper
1 free-range egg
300 g (2 cups) plain flour
560 ml (2 ¼ cups) sparkling water
sunflower or vegetable oil, for shallow-frying
pinch of sumac
your choice of fresh herbs,

to serve (optional)
For the cucumber yoghurt:
½ Lebanese cucumber, coarsely grated
salt
500 g (2 cups) plain yoghurt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
juice of ½ lemon
1 garlic clove, crushed
handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped
salt and pepper

To make a start on the cucumber yoghurt, pop the grated cucumber in a colander over a bowl. Add a big pinch of salt and rub it into the cucumber, then leave for about an hour to get rid of the excess water.

While that’s happening, make the fritter mixture. Combine the green beans, peas, broad beans, spring onion, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg and flour, then slowly
whisk in the sparkling water. It should be the consistency of thick cream so take it slowly – you may not need all the water. Pour the batter into the bowl with the veggies and mix well.

Preheat the oven to its lowest setting. You just need it to keep
the fritters warm.

Heat a generous amount of sunflower or vegetable oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium–high heat.
It’s ready when you pop a piece of veg in there and it sizzles. Add heaped tablespoons of batter to the oil and be careful not to get spattered.

Fry the fritters for 2–3 minutes each side or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove with
a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Keep warm in the oven while you cook the remaining fritters.

To finish off the cucumber yoghurt, give the cucumber a squeeze to remove the last bits of water. Place in a mixing
bowl with the yoghurt, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and mint and stir well. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, spoon the cucumber yoghurt onto plates and pop the fritters on top. Sprinkle with sumac and top with
some fresh herbs, if you like.

MAKES 16-18 FRITTERS

 

 

SPRING VEG FRITTERS-

‘Family, Food and Feelings by Kate Berry, Published by Plum, RRP $39.99, Photography by Kate Berry’

Review: Starting From Now – Fleur MacDonald

Starting From Now

Fleur McDonald

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760529284

 

Description:

A suspenseful novel of rural life and real country issues from our genuine Voice of the Outback, author of the bestselling Where the River Runs

 

When twenty-five-year-old journalist, Zara Ellison receives her mother’s ominous text message, Call me when you can, Zara knows it’s not good news.

 

Two weeks later, Zara has left her much-loved city life to relocate to Barker, the sleepy country town in which she grew up. For Zara, family comes first.

 

But she needs to work too, and the town’s police force is a rural journalist’s best source of information. Meeting Detective Dave Burrows and Dave’s second-in-charge, Senior Constable Jack Higgins, is a priority.

 

Amid her family’s troubles, and reporting on farming accidents and violently clashing activists, Zara is shocked to witness Jack Higgins in a role she’d never have believed. How could he possibly justify this? And what was she going to do about it?

 

Wrapped in the love of family, friendship, crime and mystery, Starting From Now is another compelling novel from the authentic voice of Fleur McDonald.

 

 

My View:

Fleur McDonald has an authentic country voice that she uses to share her experiences and knowledge of life in small country towns, farming and life in general. This narrative had a couple of standout plot threads – activism and social media – looking deeper, reflecting on “snapshots” on social media and media manipulation and the family in crisis.

 

I was particularly touched by the family scenes that dealt with family crisis (no spoilers here); the scenes were realistic, emotive and evoked memories that transported me to a difficult period in our lives. This was unexpected but very well written. I felt part of this family, dealing with their issues.

 

 

This book packs a mighty punch, cleverly weaving many plot threads together to bring about an informative, insightful and satisfying read.

 

 

 

#MeatFreeMonday – Cauliflower Cheese Pastries – Family Food & Feelings – Kate Berry

Family Food and Feelings

Kate Berry

Pan Macmillan

Plum

ISBN: 978176078-180-4

RRP 39.99

 

Cauliflower Cheese Pastries 

 

‘Family, Food and Feelings by Kate Berry, Published by Plum, RRP $39.99, Photography by Kate Berry’ 

 

“Cauliflower cheese is a staple of the country pub bain marie, which is probably why I love it so much. Nothing makes me happier than counter meals in far-flung places, but I also like putting my own spin on them at home. So instead of serving this as a side for a huge chunk of roast meat, I wrap it in flaky pastry and make little hand pies.” 

Makes 12
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 onion, sliced
4 thyme sprigs
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
3 sheets ready-made puff pastry, thawed
1 free-range egg, beaten
50 g (½ cup) grated parmesan
2 thyme sprigs, leaves picked

For the cheese sauce:
60 g butter
3 heaped tablespoons plain flour
750 ml (3 cups) milk, heated
large handful of grated mature cheddar
½ teaspoon dijon mustard
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
(optional) salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 225°C (fan-forced).

Pop the cauliflower florets, onion, thyme, garlic and olive oil on a large baking tray, season with salt and pepper
and gently toss to combine. Roast, tossing occasionally, for 35–40€minutes or until almost tender. Remove and set aside but leave the oven on.

While the cauliflower is roasting, make the sauce. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat, then whisk in the flour to create a smooth paste. Slowly pour in the milk while whisking constantly, then cook for 5–10 minutes or until the sauce is thick and smooth. You want it to be slightly thicker than a normal bechamel.

Take the sauce of the heat, then add the cheese, mustard and cayenne pepper (if using), and season to taste. Stir until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth. Add the roasted cauliflower and gently stir through. Set aside.

Place the pastry sheets on a clean bench and cut each sheet into four squares (so you have 12 all up).

Line two baking trays with baking paper. Place a pastry square on one of the prepared trays and pop a heaped tablespoon of the cauliflower mixture in the middle. Bring the four corners together into the centre and pinch together.

Repeat with the remaining pastry squares and cauliflower cheese.

Brush the pastries with beaten egg and sprinkle with the parmesan. Pop them in the oven for 15–20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with thyme, then serve with your fave relish or sauce.