The Cake Maker’s Wish
Life in the village isn’t always sweet and simple . . .
When single mum Olivia uproots her young son Darcy from their life in Tasmania for a new start in the English Cotswolds, she isn’t exactly expecting a bed of roses – but nor is she prepared for the challenges that life in the picturesque village throws her way.
The Renaissance Project hopes to bring the dwindling community back to life – to welcome migrants from around the world and to boost the failing economy – but not everyone is so pleased about the initiative.
For cake maker Olivia, it’s a chance for Darcy to finally meet his Norwegian father, and for her to trace the last blurry lines on what remains of her family tree. It’s also an opportunity to move on from the traumatic event that tore her loved ones apart.
After seven years on her own, she has all but given up on romance, until life dishes up some delicious new options, she didn’t even know she was craving.
An uplifting and heart-warming story about the moments that change your life forever, human kindness and being true to yourself.
If you are anything like me at the moment you appreciate a piece of heart-warming escapism in your reading choice and this book based on cake making is the perfect, temporary antidote to the ills of the time.
I love the ideas of the “Renaissance Project” and the narrative successfully transports us to modern day English village lifestyle and times, the trials and tribulations of being an “outsider” and demonstrates how to mend bridges by simply showing an interest and caring about those around us.
This book is packed with “themes” for you to unlock and consider, and a love story or two and a bit of history/mystery for you to ponder.
Parlour Games for Modern Families
Myfanwy Jones & Spiri Tsintziras
Reviving the tradition of indoor family games, this guide invites mental stimulation, silliness, and laughter back into the household. From games of logic, memory, and wordplay to rough-and-tumble activities and even simple recipes, this collection takes the environment into consideration, only requiring items easily found around the home, such as a deck of cards, a dictionary, an hour glass, dice, or paper and pen. The featured games are organized thematically and cross-referenced for age-appropriateness. Concise rules and instructions are included, outlining games that will challenge and stimulate, last all night, or fill the empty half-hour before dinner. Ideal for a wide age range, this guide brings back long-forgotten pastimes, guaranteeing entertainment for all.
What a lovely trip down memory lane revisiting so may childhood games. In particular I liked the section on card games – it has been so long since I have played cards that I am a bit fuzzy on the rules and it is so helpful to have something “concrete” in front of you when playing. Now if this had only included a “How to Play Mah-jong” it would be perfect! 😊
No Never! A Cautionary Tale
Libby Hathorn & Lisa Hathorn- Jarman
Illustrated by Mel Pearce
Lothian Children’s Books
A cautionary tale about a little girl who drives her parents up the wall when she starts answering ‘No! Never!’ to all their requests – and what happens when the tables are turned on her.
There was a child,
The sweetest ever,
Until she learned these words:
Georgie is a sweet little girl who always makes her parents happy… until she discovers one powerful phrase: No! Never!
It suddenly becomes her answer to every request, from tidying up her toys to going to bed. Her parents are at their wits end, but what happens when they decide to try saying No! Never! themselves?
A lovely, lively look at the Terrible Twos (or Threes, or Fours, or Fives…) from mother-daughter team Libby Hathorn and Lisa Hathorn-Jarman, with debut illustrator Mel Pearce. Perfect for any parent dealing with tantrums, defiant behaviour or communication issues.
This is a delightful tale with a wonderful moral/lesson in the story that all carers, parents and young children can appreciate. With simple almost gleeful imagery and wonderful rhyming prose, this book is sure to be a hit.
Highly recommend for pre-schoolers, pre-school libraries and all who play with, care for and help little minds grow.
The Museum of Forgotten Memories
Simon & Schuster Australia
*** The wonderful new novel from the acclaimed author of The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton ***
One family learning to love again.
Cate Morris and her son, Leo, are homeless, adrift. They’ve packed up the boxes from their London home, said goodbye to friends and colleagues, and now they are on their way to ‘Hatters Museum of the Wide Wide World – to stay just for the summer. Cate doesn’t want to be there, in Richard’s family home without Richard to guide her any more. And she knows for sure that Araminta, the retainer of the collection of dusty objects and stuffed animals, has taken against them. But they have nowhere else to go. They have to make the best of it.
But Richard hasn’t told Cate the truth about his family’s history. And something about the house starts to work its way under her skin.
Can she really walk away, once she knows the truth?
Praise for Anstey Harris
‘Glorious on so many levels’ A J Pearce, author of Dear Mrs Bird
‘Full of hope and charm’ Libby Page, author of The Lido
‘A hymn to friendship, to getting back up and finding happiness where none seemed possible’ Katie Fforde
‘An indulgently emotional and beautifully written story about new starts’ Daily Mail
‘Brilliantly and movingly written’ Dorothy Koomson
‘A beautifully tender portrait of the complexity of love, the depths of loneliness and the healing power of friendship’ heat
‘A gorgeously written, heartfelt tale about love and loss’ Good Housekeeping
‘Impressively powerful’ Claire Frost, Fabulous Magazine
‘As elegant and uplifting as a classical sonata, with added kick from its unforgettably quirky characters. I was both engrossed in and moved by this fabulous debut’ Catherine Isaac, author of R&J Book Club pick You Me Everything
‘A moving, beautifully written, uplifting debut about mending broken hearts through friendship. The twists and turns make it impossible to put down’ Sarah J. Harris
‘What a total joy!’ Fanny Blake
‘This book was so different from anything I’ve read before… it was beautiful, uplifting and really taught me a thing or two … The characters are diverse, the setting beautiful and the subject matter unique’ Fabulous Book Fiend
‘An absolutely beautiful read’ Heidi Swain
‘I adored this book! Exquisitely crafted, it’s a compassionate, heart-wrenching and ultimately uplifting tale. An absolute triumph’ Fionnuala Kearney
I don’t know which element of this book I enjoyed the most; the characters are written with charm, eloquence and humanity, the settings are superb – I could see the crockery shining on the table, the silverware polished, gleaming, the stately home in all its run down glory, the gardens, the statues, the exhibits, the clothes Leo wears…the towns people, the village….what an incredible story teller Anstey Harris is.
Then there is the narrative- complex yet simple to digest, heart-warming yet not saccharine, love stories, enduring and new and wrong and so right – I inhaled this read in one sitting.
The Global Vegan by Ellie Bullen,
Published by Plum
Photography by Ellie Bullen
These flavour-packed vegan meatballs are made using kidney beans for a protein kick. Dunked in
passata sauce and served with pasta, they make a hearty main, but on their own they also make
a great healthy snack or lunchbox filler. p164 Mains
cooked spaghetti, to serve
Parmesan Crumble (see Backed Mac No Cheese post for recipe)
3 tablespoons red or white quinoa
1 portobello mushroom, roughly chopped
400 g can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
30 g plain or gluten-free flour
1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 tomato, deseeded and finely diced
250 ml (1 cup) passata
⅓ cup basil leaves, plus extra to serve
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
To make the meatballs, cook the quinoa according to the packet instructions, then drain and set
aside to cool. Place the mushroom and kidney beans in the bowl of a food processor and process until
just combined. Transfer to a large bowl and stir through the quinoa. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
Roll the mixture into ten even-sized balls, then place on the prepared tray and bake for 18–20 minutes or until cooked through. To make the tomato sauce, heat the passata in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the basil
and salt and pepper to taste, then simmer for 5 minutes.
Divide the spaghetti between two plates and top with the meatballs and sauce. Scatter over the parmesan crumble and extra basil leaves.
You can also serve the meatballs and sauce as a tapas-style dish with the parmesan crumble.
If you prefer, you can shallow-fry the meatballs. Heat 3 tablespoons of avocado oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook for 2–3 minutes on all sides or until golden and crispy.
The Mummy Animal Book
An adorable and informative picture book about mummy animals and their babies from the author of THE BABY ANIMAL BOOK and 101 COLLECTIVE NOUNS.
Did you know that a mother peacock is called a peahen and a baby peacock is called a peachick?
THE MUMMY ANIMAL BOOK is an adorable and informative picture book about mummy animals and their babies that is perfect for Mother’s Day, from the author of the CBCA Notable THE BABY ANIMAL BOOK.
This is another delightful book from one of my favourite children’s authors and illustrators. Jennifer Cossins once again delivers a children book that is engaging, beautifully illustrated and educational. You are sure to enjoy the time you sit with your pre schooler sharing this beautiful book.
PS Anyone looking for a gift for the many kindy parties your child will be attending, this book is perfect. Be assured that you will be giving a gift of learning and joy; encouraging reading is such valuable habit to inspire and it is a bargain too.
Havelock & Baker Publishing
In Colombia you have to pick a side. Or one will be picked for you . . .
All Pedro Gutiérrez cares about is fishing, playing pool and his girlfriend Camila’s promise to sleep with him on his sixteenth birthday. But his life is ripped apart when Guerrilla soldiers callously execute his father in front of him, and he and his mother are banished from their farm.
Swearing vengeance against the five men responsible, Pedro, with his best friend Palillo, joins an illegal Paramilitary group, where he is trained to fight, kill and crush any sign of weakness.
But as he descends into a world of unspeakable violence, Pedro must decide how far he is willing to go. Can he stop himself before he becomes just as ruthless as those he is hunting? Or will his dark obsession cost him all he loves?
Colombiano is an epic tale of rural villages held to ransom, of jungle drug labs, cocaine supermarkets, witch doctors and buried millions, of innocent teenage love, barbaric torture and meticulously planned revenge.
Superbly told and by turns gripping, poignant and darkly comic, Colombiano is the remarkable story of a boy whose moral descent becomes a metaphor for the corruption of an entire nation. Both blockbuster thriller and electrifying coming-of-age story, Rusty Young’s powerful novel is also a meditation on the redeeming power of love.
As fifteen-year-old Pedro Gutierrez was forced to watch his father being murdered, he vowed he would do everything in his power to get vengeance against the men responsible. Grieving, angry and determined, Pedro and his best friend Palillo joined the Autodefensas – opposition to the powerful and brutal Guerrilla, the group that the men he would kill belonged to. Pedro had been a naïve teenager whose love for his girlfriend Camila, his mother and father, as well as fishing with his Papa had kept him innocent. His life would change dramatically in the two and a half years he was with the Autodefensas.
Pedro’s obsession with finding his father’s killers overrode any common sense he might have and Palillo did all he could to keep Pedro from doing crazy things. But would the world of violence he had descended into turn him into a killer as well? Would he turn into one of the monsters he was pursuing?
What an incredible tale, told by Aussie author Rusty Young after his seven years in Colombia where he interviewed special forces soldiers, snipers, undercover intelligence agents and members of the brutal gangs which were at war in the country. The child soldiers were the ones who tore his heart apart, and so, in telling their story, Colombiano was born. Blending fact with fiction, this story – at 820 pages – is a long one, but one well worth reading. Pedro was an excellent character as was Palillo and I was captivated by the story; by the heartache and poignancy which saw a coming of age story along with a thriller like none I’ve ever read before. A superbly told story, Colombiano is one I highly recommend. 5 stars
With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.
The Orange Grove
Regal House Publishing
Blois, 1705. The château of Duc Hugo d’Amboise simmers with rivalry and intrigue. Henriette d’Augustin, one of five mistresses of the duc, lives at the chateau with her daughter. When the duc’s wife, Duchesse Charlotte, maliciously undermines a new mistress, Letitia, Henriette is forced to choose between position and morality. She fights to maintain her status whilst targeted by the duchesse who will do anything to harm her enemies. The arrival of charismatic tarot reader, Romain de Villiers, further escalates tensions as rivals in love and domestic politics strive for supremacy.
In a society where status is a matter of life and death, Henriette must stay true to herself, her daughter, and her heart, all the while hiding a painful secret of her own.
The Duc Hugo d’Amboise had a wife, the Duchesse Charlotte and several mistresses who all lived together in his chateau which was surrounded by beautiful gardens and the orange grove. It was 1705 in Blois, France and the politics of the household was rife with petty jealousies, anger and enemies. When a new mistress arrived, the young and beautiful Letitia, Charlotte was intensely jealous. The duc wanted a son; Charlotte was unable to produce one therefore the duc’s mistresses felt the pressure to give him what he wanted. The problem was, the duc’s affections for Letitia overtook his affections for anyone else, including his wife.
Henriette and her daughter Solange lived quietly in the chateau, with Henriette high up in the realm of mistresses. But that was to change when she befriended Letitia. Charlotte was bitter and angry, looking for anything that would remove Letitia from her husband’s affections. What would happen in the chateau as tensions escalated and rivalries flared? And how was tarot card reader, Romain de Villiers involved?
The Orange Grove by Aussie author Kate Murdoch is set in France in the early 1700s where it was normal for men to have mistresses, for wives to know and even approve in some cases. What a horrible time to bring up your children! As a woman, you’d need to be on your toes, fully aware of what could – and probably would – go wrong any time, day or night. And as a young woman, to be sold to ease your family’s financial woes, to a duke who was willing to pay money for a pretty young face and body – I’m glad I wasn’t born back then! Filled with intrigue, The Orange Grove is one I recommend. 4 stars
With thanks to the author for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.
The Viennese Girl
Allen & Unwin AU
Inspired by the true story of a young Jewish girl – Hedy Bercu – who fled to Jersey from Vienna only to find herself trapped on the island during the German occupation.
In June 1940, the horror-struck inhabitants of Jersey watch as the German army unopposed takes possession of their island. Now only a short way from the English coast, the Germans plan their invasion.
Hedy Bercu, a young Jewish girl from Vienna who fled to the isolation and safety of Jersey two years earlier to escape the Nazis, finds herself once more trapped, but this time with no way of escape.
Hiding her racial status, Hedy is employed by the German authorities and secretly embarks on small acts of resistance. But most dangerously of all, she falls in love with German lieutenant Kurt Neumann — a relationship on which her life will soon depend.
A remarkable novel of finding hope and love when all seems at its darkest.
When her employers escaped the island of Jersey, Hedy Bercu decided to stay put. Her parents and siblings were still in Vienna and she hoped that Jersey wouldn’t be occupied. But two years after her escape from Vienna, the Nazis arrived on the island and gradually took over, using their power to dominate and terrify the inhabitants.
Hedy was Jewish but kept it to herself. Her best friend Anton and his new girlfriend Dorothea kept her secret, but the hunger and deprivation caused Hedy to take a risk, gaining herself a job as a translator for the Germans. She was only earning a little, but the food coupons helped stave off starvation. Falling for the German lieutenant, Kurt Neumann wasn’t part of her plan, but soon it became apparent he felt the same way. Hedy’s acts of resistance were dangerous and could mean the end of her life, but still she continued. What would happen to Hedy in the months and years which followed?
The Viennese Girl by Jenny Lecoat is based on the true story of a young Jewish girl, Hedwig Bercu, and what happened to her during the German occupation. Heartfelt, heartbreaking but also filled with hope, the determination of Hedy was phenomenal. Starving, thin and weak, she gritted her teeth and kept on going. What an amazing young woman. Jenny Lecoat has written an excellent historical fiction novel of one more aspect of World War II and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Highly recommended. 5 stars
With thanks to Allen & Unwin for my ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.