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: 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.

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.
p

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

Laksa – Intolerance Friendly Kitchen – Georgia McDermott

**Images courtesy of Georgia McDermott**

Laksa is a spicy noodle soup that hails from South-East Asia. Traditionally, it uses prawn stock as a base, garlic and onion in the spice paste and wheat noodles to finish. This version is vegan, FODMAP friendly and gluten free courtesy of a few simple substitutions. p 253

LACTOSE FREE
GUM FREE
EGG-FREE OPTION
VEGAN OPTION
FODMAP FRIENDLY
GLUTEN FREE
Serves: 4
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes


FOR THE LAKSA PASTE:
5–6 fresh birds eye chillies, (depending on your taste for heat), seeds removed, chopped
3 sticks lemongrass, trimmed, finely grated
50 g (1 small–medium piece) galangal, peeled, finely grated
50 g (1 small–medium piece) ginger, peeled, finely grated
20 g (1 small piece) fresh turmeric, peeled, finely grated
2 teaspoons sweet paprika (optional, for colour)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

FOR THE BROTH:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5–6 spring onions, green parts only, chopped
20–30 fresh curry leaves, stalks removed
60 ml (¼ cup) vegan fish sauce
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
1 tablespoon gluten-free tamari or dark soy
1.5 litres (6 cups) water or vegan stock
400 ml can coconut milk
400 g gluten-free tofu puffs or cubed, pan-fried tofu

TO FINISH:
½ quantity (200 g) gluten-free Chinese egg noodles
100 g vermicelli noodles
1 bunch Vietnamese mint, leaves picked,
to serve
trimmed bean sprouts, to serve, 1 long red chilli, deseeded, sliced, to serve


Method

  1. To make the laksa paste, use a mortar and pestle or food processor to grind the chilli, lemongrass, galangal, ginger and turmeric until smooth. Add the paprika and oil and mix to combine.
  2. For the broth, heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Cook the spring onion greens and curry leaves, stirring, for 2 minutes or until fragrant and softened. Add the laksa paste and cook, stirring, for 2–3 minutes or until fragrant. Add a splash of water if it sticks at any point. Add the vegan fish sauce, sugar, tamarind paste and tamari and stir to combine. Stir in the water or stock and coconut milk. Add the tofu, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes to allow flavours to infuse.
  3. Meanwhile, par-cook the Chinese egg noodles (1–2 minutes instead of 2– 3) following instructions on page 251. Pour boiling water over the vermicelli in a heatproof bowl and leave to soften for about 2–3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  4. Taste and adjust broth according to your preferences. Add a little extra stock or water if necessary.
  5. To serve, divide noodles between serving bowls. Ladle over the hot broth
    and finish with the Vietnamese mint, bean sprouts and chilli.

** Notes

Leftover laksa can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. I do recommend taking the noodles out if you are using the psyllium noodles ( as they tend to disintegrate if left in the liquid for long periods.)

Traditional laksa often uses both hokkien and vermicelli noodles. I’ve used a half- batch of my Chinese egg noodles and half vermicelli to make it vegan. If you prefer you can use all vermicelli to make it vegan.

Canned coconut milk often contains gums and thickeners, so read the label before buying.

If you cant find galangal, use a little more ginger and lemongrass ( around 25 g of each) p252

Review: Intolerance Friendly Kitchen – Georgia McDermott

Intolerance Friendly Kitchen

Georgia McDermott

Lantern

Penguin

ISBN: 9781761043932

Description:

Dependable, delicious recipes that make great food accessible for a range of intolerances- gluten free, FODMAP friendly and more.

If you have a dietary intolerance and sometimes feel you’re missing out on foods you’d love to eat, this book is for you.

Intolerance-Friendly Kitchen is all about reliable recipes that are gluten free, low FODMAP and vegetarian, and cater wherever possible to diets without dairy, eggs, nuts, grains, starches or gums.

Georgia McDermott – also known as much-loved Melbourne food blogger @georgeats – is passionate about making life’s delicious moments accessible to everyone, and she’s done all the painstaking recipe testing so you don’t have to. Whether it’s knowing the best flour to use for a certain cake or pastry, or offering a substitution to cut the lactose but keep the flavour, Georgia has worked out how to get the best results every time. Her 100+ beautifully photographed recipes include-

Yeasted croissants
Chocolate babka
Any-flour-you-like brownie cookies
Sourdough cinnamon scrolls
Vegetarian or vegan sausage rolls
Starch-free sourdough
Gluten-free egg pasta
Tofu and ginger dumplings

From bread, cakes and other sweet bakes to pasta, noodles and savoury pastry, this is a collection of recipes so rewarding and easy to follow that meeting your dietary requirements feels like a bonus!

About the Author

Georgia McDermott is a food stylist, food photographer, recipe developer and blogger. Georgia writes, cooks and photographs gluten-free, FODMAP-friendly and pescetarian recipes on her blog and is the author of the bestselling cookbook FODMAP Friendly.

My View:

By far the best gluten free /FODMAP friendly cook book I have come across in a long time. If you have food intolerances but love baking this book is for you!

Posting some great recipes … soon. 🙂 Lets get baking.

Review: Verity – Colleen Hoover

Verity

Colleen Hoover

Sphere

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9781408726600

RRP $32.99

Description:

Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.

Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.

My View:

Unsettling.

Incredible.

Unreliable narration.

So many surprises.

Shocking.

Psychological suspense.

Twisty.

Domestic Noir with many twists.

READ IT.

Review: The Torrent – Dinuka McKenzie

The Torrent

Dinuka McKenzie

Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9781460760192

RRP $32.99

Description:

A loving husband lost to devastating summer floods. A teenage girl injured during a robbery. Two seemingly unconnected cases that will push a detective to the brink.


An atmospheric, compelling new voice in Australian crime fiction.


In Northern New South Wales, heavily pregnant and a week away from maternity leave, Detective Sergeant Kate Miles is exhausted and counting down the days. But a violent hold-up at a local fast-food restaurant with unsettling connections to her own past, means that her final days will be anything but straightforward.

When a second case is dumped on her lap, the closed case of man drowned in recent summer floods, what begins as a simple informal review quickly grows into something more complicated. Kate can either write the report that’s expected of her or investigate the case the way she wants to.

As secrets and betrayals pile up, and the needs of her own family intervene, how far is Kate prepared to push to discover the truth? 

My View:

Dinuka McKenzie is the 2020 winner of the Banjo Prize for fiction. This debut work introduces us to the main characters, the locations, the culture, and nuances of daily life for the protagonist and her family. This is a very “human” look at policing in regional areas, of women’s lives ( it was pertinent that I read this around the marking of International Women’s Day) for I believe this is also a feminist novel. If I was still in uni I would say this could easily be a required read – looking at the intersection of gender, culture and power in Australia but I am not, I have my degree, so I will just say this; this is a book that has worked hard to get the reader to “know” the characters and the landscape of this book of crime fiction. Once we have fully immersed ourselves in this “space”, the pace picks up and the intrigue deepens. What once once a slow burn hisses and spits, the temperature hot hot hot!

A very satisfying read, a very human perspective of life , of crimes committed and their consequences, of looking deeper at situations, of what if’s and what now? I cannot wait to read the next book in this series. I do love a character lead book of crime fiction.

Review: I Am A Killer -Danny Tipping & Ned Parker

I Am a A Killer

Danny Tipping & Ned Parker

Pan Macmillan

ISBN: 9781529065176

Description:

What goes through the mind of a killer when they commit murder? Based on the massively successful Netflix documentary series of the same name, this book features ten of the most compelling cases from the first two series and is full of exclusive never-seen-before material.

The authors, Ned Parker and Danny Tipping secured exceptional access to high-security prisons across America. The majority of the killers will die in prison – either by serving their sentence of life without parole or they are on Death Row, waiting to be executed. In each of the cases the inmate speaks openly about themselves and reflects on their life and their crimes. To gain a complete picture of the impact of the murders the authors spoke to both the families of both the perpetrators and the victims, and those in law enforcement who were involved in the case, leaving it up to the reader to make up their own mind about the killers and their crimes.

The book draws on handwritten letters from the inmates and full transcripts of the interviews to tell each story, and features exclusive material including personal pictures, crime scene images, and original police and court documents, this is a fascinating and detailed look at some of America’s most gripping murder cases.

My View:

This was a fascinating read. It did not glorify the crimes or those who committed them it merely reflected on circumstances, spoke to a few people involved in the situations to try and share a balanced view of the prisoner and life before and after they committed murder, on the what if’s ( or maybe that was what I added in my own head as I read), spoke of the legal systems; its complexity, it’s regional variances, it’s failings.

The book ( the lives of most in this book) is a sad reflection on how society has failed so many. Pick it up, read it and make your own conclusion. I would like to think that most in this book will get a second chance to have all their stories heard and then be judged accordingly.

I hope that those who determine where our taxes are spent read this book and realise money spent on drug rehabilitation programs ,on education for all, on domestic violence shelters and support, on child welfare, is money well spent. Think long term results or consequences, it’s your choice.