Review: The Forbidden Place – Susanne Jansson

The Forbidden Place

The Forbidden Place

Susanne Jansson

Translated by Rachel Wilson-Broyles

Hachette Australia

Mulholland Books

Hodder

ISBN: 9781473668553

RRP $ 29.99

 

Description:

In the North Swedish wetlands lies Mossmarken: the village on the edge of the mire where, once upon a time, people came to leave offerings to the gods.

 

Biologist Nathalie came in order to study the peat bogs. But she has a secret: Mossmarken was once her home, a place where terrible things happened. She has returned at last, determined to confront her childhood trauma and find out the truth.

 

Soon after her arrival, she finds an unconscious man out on the marsh, his pockets filled with gold – just like the ancient human sacrifices. A grave is dug in the mire, which vanishes a day after. And as the police investigate, the bodies start to surface…

 

Is the mire calling out for sacrifices, as the superstitious locals claim? Or is it an all-too-human evil?

An international sensation, THE FORBIDDEN PLACE is a darkly gripping tale of the stories we tell ourselves to survive, and the terrible consequences they can have.

 

 

My View:

My very first impression of this book was created by the wonderful cover art; it succinctly conveys the almost Gothic like chilliness that pervades the landscape, there is an almost palpable sense of mystery, unease and intrigue. Fog, mist, swamp, peat bogs, isolation… the landscape is such a huge character in this book.

 

Moody with finely drawn characters, spiced with a little history, sadness and spooky folk tales, these are the elements that provide the skeleton for this chilling narrative to build on. A great read and a wonderful debut, I look forward to reading more books by this author.

 

PS This is brilliantly and appears effortlessly, translated.

 

 

Review: Bridge of Clay – Markus Zusak

Bridge of Clay

Bridge of Clay

Markus Zusak

Pan Macmillan Australia

Picador

ISBN: 9781760559922

 

Description:

From the author of the no.1 New York Times bestselling novel The Book Thief.

 

“An amazing talent in Australian literature” Sunday Telegraph

 

Let me tell you about our brother.

The fourth Dunbar boy named Clay.

Everything happened to him.

We were all of us changed through him.

 

The Dunbar boys bring each other up in a house run by their own rules. A family of ramshackle tragedy – their mother is dead, their father has fled – they love and fight and learn to reckon with the adult world.

 

It is Clay, the quiet one, who will build a bridge; for his family, for his past, for his sins. He’s building a bridge to transcend humanness. To survive.

 

A miracle and nothing less.

 

Markus Zusak makes his long-awaited return with a profoundly heartfelt and inventive novel about a family held together by stories, and a young life caught in the current: a boy in search of greatness, as a cure for a painful past.

 

PRAISE FOR BRIDGE OF CLAY

 

“Exquisitely written multigenerational family saga…With heft and historical scope, Zusak creates a sensitively rendered tale of loss, grief, and guilt’s manifestations.” Publishers Weekly

 

“An evocative, compassionate and exquisitely composed coming-of-age story about family, love, tragedy and forgiveness. Zusak’s prose is distinct: astute, witty, exquisitely rhythmic, and utterly engrossing. The deliberateness of his sentences, down to the punctuation is something to savour…a profoundly moving and engaging meditation on innocence and the pliable ties that bind family together in a quintessentially Australian setting.” Australian Books+Publishing Magazine

 

 

My View:

When I finished reading this book, about 1 in the morning, it took a great deal of self-control for me not to wake my husband up so I could talk to him about the book (he had read it a few days before me) and he loved it too! And now I cant wait for publication day to arrive so I can talk to others about this amazingly written (I loved the voice, the writing style), poignant, mesmerising read.

 

Perhaps my response to this book can best be summed up in the author’s own words (p. 568/569) “Twice I nearly broke down, and once I thought I’d be sick …” tears were close to flowing on several occasions, I swallowed them down in an effort to appear in control and dignified. I LOVED the book – can I make the call this early – THJE BEST BOOK I HAVE READ THIS YEAR!

 

 

 

Review: Love Laugh Bake! – Silvia Colloca

Love Laugh Bake

Love Laugh Bake!

Silvia Colloca

Pan Macmillan Australia

Plum

ISBN: 9781925481457

RRP $39.99

 

Description:

For passionate home-cook and baker Silvia Colloca there is nothing more satisfying than baking – combining the simplest of ingredients and seeing them transformed into the most delicious creations to share with others.

 

In Love, Laugh, Bake! Silvia shares more than 120 of her must-have recipes: breads, pizzas and focaccias, tarts and pies, cookies, simple cakes and also baking for special occasions. There are recipes for new and experienced bakers alike, from the easiest one-bowl cakes to crusty sourdough loaves and flaky jam-filled cornetti. Learn how to make the perfect pizza base, fluffy focaccia and deliciously rich tarts. Standout sweets include hazelnut brownies, blackberry and pear crostata, and plum and red wine upside-down cake. Silvia is well known for her fresh take on gluten-free baking and in this book she shares more than 50 of her most popular gluten-free and vegan recipes that you will want to bake again and again.

 

This is easy, generous food for every day. Silvia’s baking is simple, classic and is always enriched with her warmth and a unique sense of joy and abundance. Love, Laugh, Bake! will inspire you to discover the delights of baking for yourself, so grab your trusted rolling pin and roll up those sleeves!

 

The Author:

Silvia Colloca is an Italian-born food lover living in Sydney, Australia and has claimed the mantle of Passionate Italian Home Cook in Australia since arriving here in 2009. She share unfussy, delicious, recipes that have been passed down through her family for generations. Her food is traditional, authentic, simple, and embedded in it is the legacy of her mother and grandmother. She has authored three books Silvia’s Cucina, Made In Italy and La Dolce Vita and has hosted and co-produced Made in Italy on SBS and the ABC’s Silvia’s Italian Table. https://www.panmacmillan.com.au/9781925481457/

 

 

My View:

I first meet Silvia when I was scouring the net for hints and advice on making a sour dough starter and sough dough bread. Luckily I came across Silvia’s website https://silviascucina.net  and I proceeded to finesse my sough dough making skills.  So when I had an opportunity to review a book written by this famous author I leapt at the chance. It has not disappointed.

 

This is a great book for all home bakers.  The recipes are simple, elegant and they work! I particularly like that Silvia has catered to a variety of readers/bakers and their differing lifestyle needs; there are recipes that are vegan, gluten free, dairy free…there are breads, scrolls, chocolate dipped coconut macaroons (and I hesitate to make this statement but I think they are even better than my late mother in laws, but we will keep this between us, mother in laws cooking skills should always be respectedJ ), an amazingly easy and yummy gluten free Orange and Blueberry cake ( sorry no pictures we devoured it before I had an opportunity to photograph but I may make this again soon…I’ll let you know), there are brownies (gluten free), pavlova, biscotti, savoury and sweet tarts…there is something here to delight all bakers.

 

Now I have visitors coming for morning tea tomorrow so I best get baking!

 

 

Flashback Thursday: Review – Since We Fell – Dennis Lehane

Since we Fell

Since we Fell

Denis Lehane

Hachette Australia

Little, Brown

ISBN: 9781408708347

 

Description:

Since We Fell follows Rachel Childs, a former journalist who, after an on-air mental breakdown, now lives as a virtual shut-in. In all other respects, however, she enjoys an ideal life with an ideal husband. Until a chance encounter on a rainy afternoon causes that ideal life to fray. As does Rachel’s marriage. As does Rachel herself. Sucked into a conspiracy thick with deception, violence, and possibly madness, Rachel must find the strength within herself to conquer unimaginable fears and mind-altering truths. By turns heart- breaking, suspenseful, romantic, and sophisticated, Since We Fell is a novel of profound psychological insight and tension. It is Dennis Lehane at his very best.

 

My View:

 WOW!!!!

 I am so sorry that I am late to this party. This book has been sitting on my TBR forever – through no fault of its own it got passed over, left on the shelf, buried by new releases. I am so sorry. Dennis Lehane is a great writer, I was already aware of his fabulous narrative writing skills from a previous read but this standalone takes the rating up a notch or two, it is outstanding.

 

So if you have this book sitting somewhere amongst your To Be Read pile, sitting on a shelf, languishing in the dark – I implore you, set it free, read it, you will not be disappointed.

 

 

 

 

Review: Adriatico, Recipes and Stories from Italy’s Adriatic Coast – Paola Bacchia

Adriatico_cover

Adriatico

Recipes and Stories from Italy’s Adriatic Coast

Paola Bacchia

Smith Street Books

ISBN: 9781925418729

 

Description:

The food of Italy’s eastern coastline mirrors the memories and traditions of peoples past and present who have lived on the shores of the Adriatic. Local ingredients reflect the climate and terrain. Naturally, seafood in abundant, as well as an array of incredible pasta, rice, polenta and meat dishes.

 

The Adriatic coastline runs from the heel of the boot-shaped peninsula at the Ionian Sea, through Puglia and Venice, to the northern waters of the Gulf of Trieste on the border with Slovenia. Along its length are rugged rocky coast lInes, sandy stretches of beach, lagoons and wetlands. Spindly wooden fishing piers, white washed walls, colourful villages and sea-facing piazzas dot the 1,200-kilometre coastline with a rich history touched by Etruscan, Greek, Roman, Venetian and Austrian populations.

 

In Adriatico, join Paola on a beautiful journey as she travels the length of this relatively unexplored coastline, to find ancient food traditions still thriving.

 

 

My View:

This book is a visual feast – I love the travel photography and narrative that accompanies the recipes.  There are images/photographs of the local landscape here I want to try and paint! Beautiful! If anyone suggested a trip to Italy right now I would not hesitate to pack my bags and join them – this book is inspirational.

 

And then there are the delicious recipes – I have already made half a dozen or so from this book and there are plenty more I would like to try out.  The ingredients are seasonal and fresh and pack a flavour punch.  This is a great book that inspires some wonderful kitchen (and travel) adventures.

 

 

Meat Free Monday: Vegetarian Pho – Fodmap Friendly – Georgia McDermott

FODMAP Friendly Cover

FODMAP Friendly by Georgia McDermott, Published by Macmillan Australia, RRP $34.99

“Vietnam is one of my all-time favourite travel destinations, and at least 70% of that assessment is a direct result of
the national dish, pho. While pho is traditionally made with a beef broth heavy in onion and garlic, I’ve created
an inadvertently vegan and advertently FODMAP-friendly version. Shiitake mushrooms add a necessary depth to the
broth, but you can adjust the amount if they are a trigger for you.” p.66

 

Vegetarian pho

Vegetarian pho
Serves 4
Pho broth
4 cinnamon quills
7 star anise
2 cloves
1 tablespoon peanut or
sesame oil
2 large carrots, roughly
chopped
1 large fennel, roughly chopped
(you can throw the fronds
in too)
10 g fresh ginger, peeled and
finely sliced
75 g fresh shiitake mushrooms,
sliced
4 tablespoons gluten-free tamari
2.5 litres water
a bunch of Thai basil, leaves picked, stems discarded
a bunch of Vietnamese mint, leaves picked, stems discarded

to serve
200 g firm tofu
1 large carrot, julienned
a bunch of bok choy
250 g rice noodles
fresh red chilli, finely sliced
lime wedges

 

1. Place a large saucepan over a medium heat, and dry-fry the cinnamon, star anise and cloves for a minute or two, or until fragrant. Add the peanut oil, chopped carrot and fennel and cook for a couple of minutes until it begins to sizzle. Add the ginger, shiitake and a splash of water, and continue to cook for another couple of minutes.
2. Add the tamari, and once it has reduced down and caramelised on the bottom of the pan, add the water. Place the lid on the pan and bring the broth to the boil. Add a handful of the herbs, reduce to a medium heat and cook for 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium frying pan over a medium heat, dry-fry the tofu, cubed or in slabs, and then pour over
a splash of tamari. Remove the pan from the heat.
4. Transfer the tofu to a plate, then rinse out the frying pan and return it to the heat. Gently cook the carrots and bok
choy with a splash of water until done. Remove from the heat.
5. Prepare the rice noodles as per the packet instructions.
6. To assemble, divide the noodles between four serving bowls and then arrange the tofu, carrot and bok choy on top. Ladle over the pho broth, and finish the bowls with some fresh chilli, herbs and wedges of lime.

Meat Free Monday: Roasted Capsicum and Haloumi Shakshuka: Fodmap Friendly – Georgia McDermott

FODMAP Friendly Cover

FODMAP Friendly by Georgia McDermott, Published by Macmillan Australia, RRP $34.99

“Given that the volume of onion and garlic in a standard café shakshuka could put me in bed for a week, I’ve
given up ordering baked eggs when I’m out in favour of making them at home. Although they’re a little labour
intensive, roasted capsicums are a great substitute for the sweetness of caramelised onion, and anything that
includes haloumi warrants a bit of extra elbow grease, as far as I’m concerned.” p.35

Roasted Capsicum and Haloumi Shakshuka

shakshuka

Serves 4
4 medium–large red capsicums
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 kg tomatoes, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon harissa paste or chilli sauce (make sure it doesn’t contain onion or garlic)
1 teaspoon tomato paste
¼ piece preserved lemon rind
125 g haloumi, diced
1 small handful each of fresh mint and coriander leaves, or your preferred herb
juice of ½ lemon
4 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with
baking paper.
2. Slice the capsicums in half, remove the seeds and lay them face down on the baking tray. Cook for at least 30 minutes, or until the flesh is soft and the skin has blistered and blackened. Once cooked, transfer them to a large bowl and cover with a cloth, to encourage them to sweat their skins off (aka what happens to me whenever the temperature reaches 26 degrees or higher).
3. Add the olive oil and tomatoes to a cast-iron frying pan over a medium heat (or you can use four small pans if you have them). Adding water as you see fit, cook the tomatoes down until they have the consistency of pasta sauce. Add the spices, sugar, harissa, tomato paste and preserved lemon, and gently stir to combine. Finally, add the haloumi cubes, herbs and the lemon juice, and stir gently to disperse throughout the mixture.
4. Using the back of a spoon, create a little indent for each egg, and gently crack each one into its designated spot. Turn the heat down to low, and cook extremely gently for a few minutes, alternating between placing a lid on and taking it off. Once the whites are cooked and the yolks still slightly runny, remove the pan from the heat and top with herbs and additional seasoning.
5. Allow to sit for a couple of minutes, so your guests don’t burn their hands on the pan, or their mouths on the shakshuka.