The Best Preschooler Book of 2018: Animalphabet – Julia Donaldson with Illustrations by Sharon King-Chai

Animalphabet

The Animalphabet

Julia Donaldson

Illustrations by Sharon King-Chai

Two Hoots

Pan Macmillan Australia

ISBN: 9781509801633

RRP $24.99

 

Description:

A wondrous and beautiful A-to-Z guessing game from the bestselling author of Room on the Broom

 

From ant to butterfly to caterpillar . . . to zebra and then back again, Animalphabet is an entertaining puzzle as well as a gorgeous alphabet book to treasure.

 

Who can slither better than a rabbit? A snake! Who can growl better than a snake? A tiger! There are clever hints and peekaboo holes within the artwork that will amaze and delight young children as they learn to use the alphabet. This is a preschool must-have.

 

 

My View:

This book is visually stunning! The illustrations are fun and colourful, the cutaways/cut outs/flip pages are fun and entertaining. This is a quality children’s book that will give many hours of reading pleasure to both the adult and the child reading this book.

 

This is the perfect gift – for any time of the year.

 

Brenda’s Top Ten Books of the Year 2018

This has been a bumper year for 5 star reads, trying to narrow the list to just ten is very difficult but Brenda has managed to whittle her list to these  ten exciting reads (in no particular order) :

Where the Crawdads Sing

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

The Queen's Colonial

The Queen’s Colonial by Peter Watt

The Nature of the Lion

Nature of the Lion by T.M. Clark

Wundersmith

Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend

Disguising Demons

Disguising Demons by Brigid George

The Dream Daughter

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

The Great Alone

The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah

The Lost Pearl

The Lost Pearl by Emily Madden

The Lost Valley

The Lost Valley by Jennifer Scoullar

Whitsunday Dawn

Whitsunday Dawn by Annie Seaton

Just Desserts: Raspberry and Chocolate Tart – Fruit – Bernadette Worndl,

fruit-9781925418446

Edited extract from Fruit by Bernadette Worndl, published by Smith Street Books, $55. Photography © Gunda Dittrich. Out November 2018

 

RASPBERRY AND CHOCOLATE TART

 Chocolate and raspberries really, really like each other!

 

Raspberry and chocolate tart

Pastry

100 g (3½ oz) cold butter

200 g (7 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting

1 tablespoon icing (confectioners’) sugar

pinch of salt

1 egg

splash of milk, as needed

 

Chocolate filling

300 g (10½ oz) bitter dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)

pinch of salt

pinch of ground cinnamon

pinch of finely grated orange zest

125 g (4½ oz) thickened (whipping) cream

½ teaspoon orange-flavoured liqueur

 

Topping

1–2 tablespoons raspberry jam (jelly)

250 g (9 oz) raspberries

1–2 teaspoons honey

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (conventional). For the pastry, chop the butter into cubes. Place the butter in a large bowl, along with the flour, icing sugar and salt. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the dry ingredients. Add the egg and knead into a smooth dough, adding milk if the dough is too dry. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface to 3 mm (⅛ in) thick. Line a large pie dish or 4–6 small flan (tart) tins with the pastry and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

 

Cover the pastry with baking paper, fill with dried beans or baking beads and blind bake on the lowest shelf of the oven for 10–15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and bake the pastry for a further 10–12 minutes, until the edge begins to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

 

For the chocolate filling, chop the chocolate and place in a bowl with the salt, cinnamon and orange zest. Heat the cream in a small saucepan, then pour it over the chocolate mixture and allow everything to melt together for 2–3 minutes. Stir until smooth, then stir through the liqueur.

 

Spread the jam over the pie base. Pour over the chocolate cream and leave at room temperature until set. Top with the raspberries and serve drizzled with the honey.

 

The Best Way to Start the Day – Bircher Muesli

fruit-9781925418446

Edited extract from Fruit by Bernadette Worndl, published by Smith Street Books, $55. Photography © Gunda Dittrich. Out November 2018

 “My favourite breakfast. It easily lends itself to seasonal combinations using different grains, seeds and nuts or fruits. A grated apple always makes an appearance, though.” p. 17 

 Bircher Museli

BIRCHER MUESLI WITH GRATED APPLE, PEPITAS, YOGHURT AND FRESH GRAPES

2 apples

1 handful walnuts

100 g (3½ oz/1 cup) rolled (porridge) oats

2 tablespoons linseeds (flax seeds), roughly crushed

2 teaspoons wheat bran

2 tablespoons pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

150 ml (5 fl oz) milk

300 g (10½ oz) yoghurt

pinch of salt

small handful shelled pistachios

small handful grapes

honey, for drizzling

 

Coarsely grate one of the apples and roughly chop the walnuts. Place in a bowl and add the oats, linseeds, wheat bran, pepitas, milk, 200 g (7 oz) of the yoghurt and the salt. Stir well to combine, then cover and refrigerate overnight to soak.

 

The next day, roughly chop the pistachios and coarsely grate the second apple. Finely slice two grapes. Serve the muesli in shallow bowls and top with the apple, remaining yoghurt, grapes, pistachios and a drizzle of honey.

Review: Fruit, Recipes That Celebrate Nature – Bernadette Worndl

fruit-9781925418446

Fruit
Recipes that Celebrate Nature
Bernadette Worndl
Smith Street Books
Simon & Schuster Australia
ISBN: 9781925418446
RRP $55

Description:
We often associate fruit in recipes with jams, cakes and puddings – but fruit can be an incredible complement to savoury dishes too. Adding blackberries to a duck breast and chard recipe or caramelised pears to a pork and sage recipe can create an amazing dish. This book shows you how to make the most of out the fruit that’s in season – whether the dishes are sweet or savoury.

The seasonal arrangement of the recipes and the use of a wide array of fruit varieties, supplemented by citrus and dried fruits, make this book a kitchen staple that promises to be used again and again. The more than 70 recipes in the book include Roast pork with apples, Tagliatelle with mushrooms and blackberries and Chicken with balsamic cherries and cauliflower cream.

 

My View:
What a delectable book! I confess that I cannot wait for the summer fruits (cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots etc.) to be ready to be enjoyed. When fruit, any fruit, is in season, I find as many ways to use as possible. I preserve – make jams, marmalades, chutneys. I freeze, bottle, dry. I stew, make fruit salad, fruit “ice cream”, bake in tarts, pies, muffins… add fruit to salads, eat as is. Rarely have I thought to add fruit to savoury meals, except for the traditional cooked apple with roast pork, Bernadette Worndl celebrates the joy of fruit in ways I had not thought but cannot wait to try.

Pick up a copy of this book and you will be delighted with the range of traditional and creative recipe inside the cover. And now is the perfect time to think about creating that perfect homemade gift for the coming festive season; who doesn’t like to receive a gift made with care and love? A homemade cake, tart, jam or preserve or even something to sip on those hot summer nights; Blueberry liquor sounds just what I might need.

Fruit, Recipes that Celebrate Nature is a perfect gift for the home cook or your own kitchen library.

fruit-9781925418446

Review: The Sunday Girl – Pip Drysdale

The Sunday Girl

The Sunday Girl

Pip Drysdale

Simon & Schuster Australia

ISBN: 9781925685824

 

Description:

The Girl on the Train meets Before I Go to Sleep with a dash of Bridget Jones in this chilling tale of love gone horribly wrong …

 

Some love affairs change you forever. Someone comes into your orbit and swivels you on your axis, like the wind working on a rooftop weather vane. And when they leave, as the wind always does, you are different; you have a new direction. And it’s not always north.

 

Any woman who’s ever been involved with a bad, bad man and been dumped will understand what it feels like to be broken, broken-hearted and bent on revenge. Taylor Bishop is hurt, angry and wants to destroy Angus Hollingsworth in the way he destroyed her: Insidiously. Irreparably. Like a puzzle, he’d slowly dissembled … stolen a couple of pieces from, and then discarded, knowing that nobody would ever be able to put it back together ever again. So Taylor consulted The Art of War and made a plan. Then she took the next step – one that would change her life forever.

 

Then things get really out of control – and The Sunday Girl becomes impossible to put down.

 

 

My View:

“You always know where your heart belongs when it gets to Sunday and there is only one person in the whole world you want to curl up with on the sofa.” P.59

 

This is a read in one sitting, forget what’s happening in the outside world as you urge the protagonist to safety. Secretly you smile as her plan begins to form – who hasn’t harboured a little grudge against an ex before? You empathise, you become a silent player in this game of cat and mouse. And then…

 

Well you will just have to read this yourself to find out.

 

 

Domestic noir at its pulse racing best!  This is my perfect read. More please!

Review: The Children’s House – Alice Nelson

The Children's House

The Children’s House

Alice Nelson

Penguin Random House Australia

Vintage

RRP $32.99

 

Description:

Marina, ‘the gypsy scholar’, a writer and academic, and her psychoanalyst husband, Jacob, were each born on a kibbutz in Israel. They meet years later at a university in California, Marina a grad student and Jacob a successful practitioner and teacher who has a young son, Ben, from a disastrous marriage. The family moves to a brownstone in Harlem, formerly a shelter run by elderly nuns.

 

Outside the house one day Marina encounters Constance, a young refugee from Rwanda, and her toddler, Gabriel. Unmoored and devastated, Constance and Gabriel quickly come to depend on Marina; and her bond with Gabriel intensifies.

 

When out of the blue Marina learns some disturbing news about her mother, Gizela, she leaves New York in search of the loose ends of her life. As Christmas nears, her tight-knit, loving family, with Constance and Gabrielle, join Marina in her mother’s former home, with a startling, life-changing consequence.

 

Alice Nelson skilfully weaves together these shared stories of displacement and trauma into a beautifully told, hope-filled, outstanding novel.

 

 

My View:

Can a book both be intense and yet subtle? Can it be meditative yet urge you to take action? Can stories of displacement, war and war crimes, isolation and suicide have a more or less happy resolution? This highly complex yet very easy and engaging read broaches many contemporary issues in an eloquent and unassuming voice; this is accessible literary fiction at its best.

 

A fantastic read.