Review: When A Soul Mate Says No- A Memoir – Amanda Trenfield

When A Soul Mate Says No -A Memoir

Amanda Trenfield

Pepper Press

ISBN: 9781925914436

Description:

Amanda never imagined that after uprooting her comfortable, stable life to make room for her soulmate that he would decide to go his own way. They agreed that their connection was unbelievably cosmic. So why did he say no?

A fearless voyage of self-discovery fueled by stubbornness, tenacity, and an unquenchable thirst for answers to the great mysteries of the soul. Amanda shares the intimate details of her transformation from love-sick hot mess to self-actualised superstar with unapologetic vulnerability and effervescent humour.

Through the exploration of grief, spirituality, energy therapies, self-acceptance, and the undeniable healing power of a good Diana Ross song, Amanda’s story serves as an example of what is possible when we dare to dream of a life that’s nothing short of miraculous. 

My View:

This is a courageous and honest narrative about life transformation through the exploration of grief and relationships.

The author has turned around her negative situation and focused on her own healing and self awareness and shows the reader how you too can evoke change.

A very host and open read.

**PS Love the cover art.

Review: The Widow of Walcha – Emma Partridge

The Widow of Walcha: A True Crime Story of Love, Lies and a Murder In A small Country Town

Emma Partridge

Simon & Schuster Australia

ISBN: 9781760859428

Description:

The Widow of Walcha is a shocking true story about death, love and lies in the small NSW town of Walcha.
 
All farmer Mathew Dunbar ever wanted was to find love and have a family of his own. That’s why, just months after meeting Natasha Darcy, the much-loved grazier didn’t hesitate to sign over his multi-million-dollar estate to her.
 
When Mathew died in an apparent suicide soon afterwards, in a stranger-than-fiction twist, Natasha’s estranged husband – who she was once charged with trying to kill – was the first paramedic on the scene after the murder.
 
Journalist and author Emma Partridge travelled to the cool and misty town of Walcha in the Northern Tablelands of NSW in the months after Mathew Dunbar’s death, drawn by the town’s collective worry that Natasha was going to get away with murder. Partridge spent months researching the case, interviewing Mathew’s friends, family and Natasha herself in an attempt to uncover her sickening web of lies and crimes.
 
The Widow of Walcha is about one of the most extraordinary criminal trials in Australia’s history and reveals Natasha’s sickening crimes against those she claimed to love, fuelled by her obsession with money.
 

My View:

This story is so bizarre it reads like … a black comedy… how incredulous this is, how unbelievable the actions are in this read … I just cannot believe this actually happened, yet it did and one person is dead and a few more escaped by good luck. I shake my head as I read…how did this happen? How did this woman get away with so much before this last terrible act landed her in gaol? How does her husband (at the time the book was written, they were still married, that I do not get at all) whom she attempted to murder (setting the house on fire whilst he was in it) stay shtum? How? I just cant believe it.

Yet this is true. Follow the stories of her previous relationships, the earlier police charges, her first time in gaol, her next targets….read on as the clues are unraveled. Sit in court and hear evidence and then once the verdict has been delivered read on about the information that wasnt allowed to be shared in court, the other stories of “near misses”. I continue to shake my head in disbelief. What an incredible, true story.

I wish we could hear the Widow’s story ( I guess we do through the evidence and transcripts and interviews) but as she has not accepted responsibility I guess we will never know what was going through her mind,.. intriguing.

Big screen here this comes 🙂

Review: A Caravan Like A Canary – Sasha Wasley

A Caravan Like A Canary

Sasha Wasley

Panterra Press

ISBN: 9780648987505

Description:

Two road trips. Twenty years apart. Can the memories of a troubled family past finally be put to rest?

When Tara Button’s mother asks her to drive the bright yellow family caravan from one end of the state to the other, it’s her charming but unreliable brother, Zac, who convinces her it’s a good idea. Besides, the road trip might keep Zac out of trouble – and that’s always been a second job for Tara.

Tara doesn’t expect Zac’s enigmatic friend Danh to come along for the ride. Or the bikies that seem to be following them up the coast .

As they travel along the open road, memories of the Buttons’ last trip in the caravan engulf Tara, while a rediscovered love for the wild, glorious ocean chips away at her reserve. When forced to face her past, will Tara find the courage to let go and discover her dreams?

My View:

Outstanding! The best read of the year!

I loved every moment of this read; the characters – so well developed I can visualise this one the big screen, the settings – some I recognise, some I have been to – in a caravan :), the trauma and PTSD I recognise and empathise with the characters and their situations, the narrative….engaging…just so much to offer the reader in this book!

This is a fabulous read and I think the best of Sasha’s work thus far. I eagerly await the next offering from this amazing author and lovely human.

Review: One of Us-Kylie Kaden

One of Us

Kylie Kaden

Panterra Press Aus

ISBN:9780648677093

Description:

Behind the tall hedges of the affluent, gated community of Apple Tree Creek, not all is as it seems …

Out of the blue, Gertie’s husband decides they need a break and he’s leaving her with their three children. Two streets east and three gardens down, successful businesswoman Rachael discovers her husband has cheated on her – again – even though she’s pregnant with his third child. Thrown together by a chance encounter, the two women bond over the shared disaster that is their marriages.

But did one husband push his wife too far?

When the ambulance sirens cut through the serenity of Apple Tree Creek, the small community is shocked at the violence that’s played out in their midst. CCTV reveals no outsiders visited the estate that night, confirming that the assailant must have been one of their own. Is the culprit still living among them? And why didn’t any of the cameras, designed to keep them all safe, catch anything?

As the web of neighbourly relationships unravels and the workings of their inner lives are exposed, questions will be asked, but not everyone wants to learn the answers.

You can only push people so far.

My View:

A dramatic opening scene – a body…police, traumatised family close by. Who did it? And so the story begins.

We look back to reveal the culprit. We learn about the daily lives and grind of the families living in a gated, secure community. So many secrets. You really cannot judge people by their appearances, who knows what is going on behind the public facade. And can I say upfront – the death- couldn’t have happened to a more deserving person 🙂 I really disliked all the male characters in this book.

For me this had a touch of the Stepford Wives, I dont really know why I felt this commonality, perhaps the neat and tidy outer appearances, the messy reality behind the scenes? Its a “feeling” that has lingered with me long since I read this book.

If you are looking for a character driven mystery with a touch of “fly on the wall” knowledge of the lives behind the gates, then this one if for you. And I bet you wont guess “who dunnit” 🙂 I didn’t.

Review: The Mallee Girl – Jennifer Scoullar

The Mallee Girl

Jennifer Scoullar

Penguin Random House

ISBN: 9781761046650

Description:

A heart-warming new rural romantic suspense set in the Victorian High Country by the bestselling author of Brumby’s Run.

Armed with nothing but some loose change and her beloved dog Duke, Mallee girl Pippa Black has finally found the courage she needs to escape a dangerous relationship. Two cryptic words written on a paper napkin send her in search of the one person who might help her – a long-lost brother she has always dreamed of finding.

Pippa’s quest leads her to the remote town of Currajong, high in the beautiful Victorian alps. As a runaway seeking refuge among strangers, Pippa learns that she’s been mistakenly implicated in a shocking crime. She finds her way to Brumby’s Run, a wild-horse sanctuary, where she begins work assisting the enigmatic farm manager Levi, and becomes entranced by Thowra, a magnificent golden stallion who leads a herd of brumbies in the region. Both man and horse will teach Pippa more about herself than she ever thought possible – including when to run, when to hide, and when to stand up and fight.

Set among the majesty of the High Country snowgums, The Mallee Girl is a moving and heartfelt story about the power of love and the land to heal old wounds, and the freedom that comes in confronting your greatest fears.

My View:

This is Jennifer Scoullar at her very best. I love her settings, the relationships she explores, the relationships with dogs and horses. This one is particularly poignant and answers the question ” why didnt she leave before now?” .

Family violence comes in many forms. This book will illuminate some of those situations.

This book has a dramatic yet eventually, happy ending…phew.

A great read.

Review: This Is Not A Book About Benedict Cumberbatch- Tabitha Carvan

This is Not A Book About Benedict Cumberbatch

Tabitha Carvan

Fourth Estate

Harper Collins

ISBN:  9781460760659

RRP $32.99

Description:

If you feel that sense that there is something missing from your life, some gap between who you are on the inside and who you are on the outside – then this is the book for you.

This is, as the title says, not actually a book about Benedict Cumberbatch.

In fact, it’s a book about women and what we love, about what happens to women’s passions after we leave adolescence and how the space for joy in our lives is squeezed ever smaller as we age, and why. More importantly, it’s about what happens if you subvert that narrative and simply love something like you used to.

Drawing upon her personal experience of unexpectedly falling for the British actor Benedict Cumberbatch while stuck at home with two young children, Carvan challenges the reader to stop instinctively resisting the possibility of experiencing pleasure. Hers is clarion rallying cry: find your thing, whatever it may be, and love it like your life depends on it.

Funny, intelligent, transporting and liberating, this book is a total joy.

Witty, erudite and fierce in its message – that women should seek joy and find fun. Happily, this book provides both in abundance. I loved it.‘ Jacqueline Maley

You know when you bite into a chocolate, and unexpectedly discover it’s filled with delectable cherry kirsch that explodes into your mouth and oozes everywhere? That’s this book. Original, highly entertaining, fast-paced, personal read that contains unexpected revelations at every corner. It’s funny, it’s smart, it’s compelling. But most of all, it’s a battle cry: sit up, pay attention and follow your heart and find joy. After all, our time on this earth is short. C’mon. The clock is ticking.‘ Ginger Gorman

‘Intimate, self-deprecating … like an Australian Caitlin Moran or Dolly Alderton … an easy, lighthearted read about serious subject matter: feminism, passion, relationships and creativity, and owning the strength of the passions felt in childhood and adolescence.’ Books+Publishing

My View:

Let’s start with 5 star read. Wonderful cover art. A surprising, evocative, provocative and thoroughly enjoyable read. In fact I might even read this again and again. And that says something.

I picked up this booked – for two reasons- I do love the cover art and I am a fan of Benedict Cumberbatch since I discovered this video. I love his voice. Check this out. He “reads” poetry, letters….I would listen to him read a shopping receipt. 🙂

But I digress. 🙂

The book, though it does rave and gush about the wonders of the man Benedict Cumberbatch (to illustrate a point 🙂 ) it is actually a book about finding passion, finding yourself, acceptance and love. It is about discovering or rediscovering feelings, rediscovering self, honoring your self.

It is a fun, witty, intelligent and thought provoking read.

I loved this book.

Review: Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone – Benjamin Stevenson

Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone

Benjamin Stevenson

Penguin Random House

ISBN: 9780143795650

Description:
Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle meet Knives Out and The Thursday Murder Club in this fiendishly clever blend of classic and modern murder mystery.

I was dreading the Cunningham family reunion even before the first murder.

Before the storm stranded us at the mountain resort, snow and bodies piling up.

The thing is, us Cunninghams don’t really get along. We’ve only got one thing in common- we’ve all killed someone.

My brother.
My step-sister
My wife
My father
My mother
My sister-in-law
My uncle
My stepfather
My aunt
Me

My View:
This book got me at …”Call me a reliable narrator. Everything I tell you will be the truth ,or, at least the truth as I knew it to be at the time. Hold me to that….I am both Watson and Detective in this book, where I play both writer and sleuth, and so am obliged to to both light up clues and not conceal my thoughts. In short: play fair…Actually I will prove it. If you are just here for the gory details, deaths in this book happen or are reported to have happened on p14, and page 46, and page…..” p2

And in a blink I am hooked! I loved the style, Golden Age cross…modern mystery?? the voice, the “writer” talking to the reader, the jokes, self depreciation , the mystery…the thrilling end.

A great read I hope you enjoy it too.

** Margot this is one you must read! **

#FridayFreebie# Missing Presumed Dead – Mark Tedeschi QC

Missing Presumed Dead

Mark Tedeschi QC

Simon & Schuster Australia

ISBN: 9781761104459

Description:

It was the double murder case that gripped Australia, and former Crown Prosecutor Mark Tedeschi QC is finally able to share all the shocking details.

Dorothy Davis and Kerry Whelan were both happy, healthy, affluent, middle-class women from conservative, loving families.
Such women are hardly ever among the ranks of the missing. They were not hitchhikers, or associates of drug dealers, or unhappy with their family relationships, or suffering from mental health issues. Dorothy Davis and Kerry Whelan came from different parts of Sydney, mixed in quite different circles, and led completely different lives. They had never met each other, and if they had, they would have had little in common. In fact, Dorothy Davis and Kerry Whelan had one thing in common – they both knew Bruce Allan Burrell.

The disappearance without trace of these two women caused massive police investigations and resulted in sensational trials that gripped the nation of Australia. This book explores the intricacies of those investigations and delves into the twisted, tortuous processes of the legal proceedings, while exploring the dark recesses of the mind of Bruce Burrell.

Meet the Author:

As a Barrister and a Crown Prosecutor for thirty five years, Mark Tedeschi QC has appeared in some of the most significant criminal cases in Australia. He has been the Senior Crown Prosecutor in New South Wales for fifteen years and is the President of the Australian Association of Crown Prosecutors. He has had many articles published on the law and is the author of a legal text book and the critically acclaimed biography Eugenia. He has published many articles on history, genealogy, photography, and horticulture. Kidnapped is his second work of creative non-fiction. 

Giveaway:

Thanks to Simon & Schuster, the author and Dmcprmedia I have one copy of this Australian true crime expose to give away. ** Australian residents only** In the comments let me know of another true crime written by this author.

Tiramisu – Intolerance Friendly Kitchen – Georgia McDermott

**Images courtesy of Georgia McDermott**

Tiramisu: because if cream, carbs, coffee and booze can’t lift your spirits, there’s probably not much that will. Tiramisu traditionally uses mascarpone and whipped eggs for the creamy layer and rum or Marsala for the alcohol. This version uses lactose-free whipping cream, gin or a FODMAP-friendly
spirit of your choice, and gluten-free savoiardi to keep the FODMAP content low.

Tiramisu

LOW LACTOSE
FODMAP FRIENDLY
GLUTEN FREE
Serves: 6–8
Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 30–40 minutes


FOR THE SAVOIARDI:
(makes 30–40 biscuits)
4 extra-large eggs, separated
110 g (½ cup) caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
80 g (½ cup) fine white rice flour
60 g (½ cup) tapioca flour
50 g (½ cup) almond meal
40 g (¼ cup) icing sugar (to finish)


FOR THE COFFEE MIXTURE:
125 ml (½ cup) fresh espresso coffee
2–3 tablespoons gin or FODMAP-friendly spirit of choice
310 ml (1 ¼ cups) hot water


FOR THE CREAM MIXTURE:
500 g (2 tubs) full-cream, lactose-free whipping cream
80 g (½ cup) pure icing sugar


TO FINISH:
70% cocoa solids dark chocolate, to grate unsweetened cocoa powder, to dust

METHOD
Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper. I like to lightly oil the trays first so the paper doesn’t move when I pipe. Place flours in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Combine egg yolks, 55 g (¼ cup) caster sugar and the vanilla bean paste in a large bowl or stand mixer. Using
electric beaters, beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5–10 minutes.

Place egg whites in a separate clean, dry bowl. Using clean electric beaters, beat until the whites become frothy, then gradually add the remaining caster sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold half the egg yolk mixture into the egg white mixture. Repeat with remaining half until just combined. Gently fold
flour mixture into egg mixture until just combined.

Place your piping bag in a tall glass, and spoon mixture into the bag. I generally use a ziplock bag with a 2 cm hole cut in one corner. Twist the top to seal. Pipe mixture onto prepared trays to create roughly 10 cm × 3 cm biscuits. Sprinkle with icing sugar.

Bake savoiardi for 8 minutes, then swap the trays and bake for another 5 minutes. Turn the oven down to 150°C and bake for another 10 minutes or until the savoiardi are crisp or tops are golden. Set aside to cool completely on trays.

To make coffee mixture, combine all ingredients in a wide, shallow bowl. Set aside.

To make the cream mixture, combine cream and icing sugar in a large bowl and, using electric beaters, beat until light and fluffy.

Construct: Quickly soak one savoiardi at a time in the coffee liquor mixture. The crunchier the savoiardi, the longer you can leave them to soak. Arrange the soaked savoiardi in the base of a 1.6 litre capacity serving dish.

Once you have completely covered the base of the dish, top the savoiardi with half the cream mixture. It is more important to completely cover the top of the tiramisu (for aesthetics, anyway) so make sure you save enough for that.

Top the cream layer with a generous grating of dark chocolate (I like to use a microplane). I think this chocolate layer makes the difference between an okay tiramisu and an amazing one. Repeat with another layer of savoiardi (any leftover coffee mixture can be drizzled over the biscuits here) and then
carefully spread over the remaining cream mixture. Finish with a super generous grating of the dark chocolate and dust with cocoa powder. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve (see notes).


NOTES
This recipe for savoiardi should make close to 40 biscuits, which is the perfect quantity for a
1.6 litre/28 cm dish. I have found that savoiardi batter often varies in the amount of biscuits
it yields. I recommend keeping enough ingredients for another batch on hand, just in case. If
your batch comes out with significantly fewer, make another half or whole batch to avoid
getting caught out later. They keep well in an airtight container and are delicious dipped in
espresso. Tiramisu is best served the next day, when the flavours have had a chance to meld
and the cream has set nicely. Leftover tiramisu keeps, covered, in the fridge for 1–2 days, if you can restrain yourself for that long.

** My Note – For those who are time poor – I have found GF savoiardi biscuits in my local supermarket which I have used in this recipe. YUM

Vegan Breakfast Banana Bread – Intolerance Friendly Kitchen – Georgia McDermott

**Images courtesy of Georgia McDermott**

The year 2020 taught us a few things, and one of them was the importance of a good banana bread. This version is refined sugar free, dairy free and vegan, which all sounds pretty good to me. While the quantity of ripe banana in this bread is within FODMAP limits, it might not agree with some. If you don’t get along with ripe bananas, use just ripe or slightly under-ripe ones instead. I find it can be helpful
to roast these first to bring out their sweetness and flavour.
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LACTOSE FREE
GUM FREE
EGG FREE
VEGAN
FODMAP FRIENDLY
GLUTEN FREE
DAIRY FREE
Serves: 8–10
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 40–55 minutes

Vegan Breakfast Banana Bread

200 g (1 ¼ cups) fine white rice flour
60 g (½ cup) tapioca flour
2 ¼ teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
200 g banana, ripe or just ripe

METHOD:
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 21.5 cm x 11.5 cm (base measurement) loaf pan.

Place flours, baking powder and soda, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

Mash the banana in a medium bowl, keeping some larger chunks for texture. Mix in the dry ingredients.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in any additions here if using (see notes). You can top the bread with some thinly sliced banana coins or
slices, but this is optional.

Pour the mixture into the pan, sitting it on a baking tray. Cook for 40 minutes, or until the top is golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. If necessary, cover with foil and continue to cook for a further 10–15 minutes, or until cooked through.

Set loaf aside to cool in pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Slice and serve with vegan, FODMAP-friendly yoghurt if desired.


NOTES
This banana bread will keep in an airtight container for up to 3–4 days.
You can mix in several things here: chocolate, nuts or berries. Just make
sure any additions are vegan, low FODMAP and gluten free if they need