Review: Grumbelina – Esther Krogdahl and Aleksandra Szmidt (illustrator)

Grumbelina

Esther Krogdahl

Aleksandra Szmidt (illustrator)

Hachette Children’s’ Books

ISBN: 9781869714291

RRP $16.99

 

Description:

Hazel Spratt was an agreeable child. Never impatient, unruly or wild. But when Hazel turns three-and-a-half, her parents notice a change. She is no longer their polite and pleasant daughter, Hazel, she is now Grumbelina, ‘a grumpy child, so disgruntled yet small, with a list of complaints that could cover a wall.’ Settle down and relax for a moment, this humorous and delightfully illustrated picture book takes a tongue-in-cheek look at tantrums – perfect for every home.

 

My View:

Grumbelina is a book that anyone who cares for young children, actually let’s reframe that – anyone who cares for any child/toddler, pre-schooler/teen will relate to this book😊

This book is a tongue in cheek look at the multiple personalities that make a complete child; happy, sad, engaging, enchanting… grumbly.  Those incredulous moments – when the peas touched the carrots on the plate, the cup was the wrong colour, you didn’t mind read the situation correctly, you should have known…you know the list 😊

 

Delightfully illustrated, a humorous exploration of childhood, this book is sure to put a smile on your and your toddlers face.

 

 

 

Thai Sweet Potato Soup with Roasted Cashews: Easy Gluten Free – Helen Tzouganatos

Easy Gluten Free by Helen Tzouganatos

Published by Plum

RRP $39.99,

Photography by Jeremy Simons

 

SERVES 4–6 DF, GF, VG
Sweet potato is beautiful in soups because it has a thick, creamy texture when pureed and carries other
flavours well, particularly spices that balance its natural sweetness. If you love extra heat feel free to
increase the quantity of curry paste in this recipe; I keep mine fairly mild so it’s family friendly.” p 91

 

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
2 tablespoons gluten-free Thai red curry paste
1 kg sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into
3 cm cubes
1 tablespoon gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos
750 ml (3 cups) gluten-free vegetable stock
125 ml (1/2 cup) coconut milk
juice of 1 lime
sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
handful of chopped roasted cashews,

 

to serve

handful of coriander leaves, to serve

 

Melt the coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the ginger, garlic and curry paste and sauté for another 2 minutes.

Add the sweet potato, tamari or coconut aminos and stock. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or until the potato has softened. Take the soup off the heat and stir in the coconut milk and lime juice.
Blitz with a hand-held blender or in a food processor until smooth and creamy.

Adjust the seasoning to taste. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with cashews and coriander.

NOTE
• Sweet potatoes are a great source of fibre, vitamins and beta-carotene,
a powerful antioxidant that gives orange fruits and vegetables their colour.

 

#FridayFreebie – Bluebird – Malcolm Knox

Bluebird

Malcolm Knox

Allen & Unwin Australia

ISBN: 9781760877422

RRP $32.99

 

 

Description:

‘If Winton is an aria, Knox is early Rolling Stones.’ The Guardian

A stunning new novel about longing, regret, redemption and the terrible legacy of decades of secrets buried in an Australian beachside suburb.

A house perched impossibly on a cliff overlooking the stunning, iconic Bluebird Beach. Prime real estate, yet somehow not real estate at all, The Lodge is, like those who live in it, falling apart.

Gordon Grimes has become the accidental keeper of this last relic of an endangered world. He lives in The Lodge with his wife Kelly who is trying to leave him, their son Ben who will do anything to save him, his goddaughter Lou who is hiding from her own troubles, and Leonie, the family matriarch who has trapped them here for their own good.

But Gordon has no money and is running out of time to conserve his homeland. His love for this way of life will drive him, and everyone around him, to increasingly desperate risks. In the end, what will it cost them to hang onto their past?

Acclaimed writer Malcolm Knox has written a classic Australian novel about the myths that come to define families and communities, and the lies that uphold them. It’s about a certain kind of Australia that we all recognise, and a certain kind of Australian whose currency is running out. Change is coming to Bluebird, whether they like it or not. And the secrets they’ve been keeping and the lies they’ve been telling can’t save them now.

Savage, funny, revelatory and brilliant, Bluebird exposes the hollowness of the stories told to glorify a dying culture and shows how those who seek to preserve these myths end up being crushed by them.

 

**If you would like to win a copy of Bluebird  by Malcolm Knox, in the comments tell me the title of any other book Knox has written https://www.allenandunwin.com/browse/books/fiction/Bluebird-Malcolm-Knox-9781760877422   
entries open to Australian residents , I will conduct a random draw to select 3 winners on 11/04/020   thank you Allen & Unwin**

Review: Summerwater – Sarah Moss

I am going to go out on a limb here and say I have recently read THE  TWO BEST LITERARY/CONTEMPORARY READS OF THE YEAR…with a caveat that I can add more to this short list if I come across anything super exciting. 🙂

Covid 19 has certainly impacted on my reading habits and mood. I find myself shying away  (but not given up on) my favourite genre – crime fiction, in favour of more contemporary reads – dont ask me why?

In the last couple of weeks I have read Summerwater by Sarah Moss: and Betty by Tiffany McDaniels.

 

Summerwater

Sarah Moss

Picador

Pan Macmillan Australia

ISBN: 9781529035452

RRP $32.99

Description:

Set in an isolated Scottish cabin park over the course of one rainy summer’s day, A DAY LIKE TODAY follows a group of holidaymakers and their growing curiosity about a disruptive foreign family staying at the site. As the residents become more closely entwined tension mounts between them, but no one can know what lies ahead as night falls. Sharp and devastating, Sarah Moss’s newest novel is the perfect follow up to her Women’s Prize longlisted GHOST WALL

 

My view:

SUPERB!       SUBLIME!!!    READ THIS BOOK.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Betty – Tiffany McDaniel

**Best reads of 2020 Must reads of 2020**

Tiffany McDaniel who is quickly becoming one of my favourite writers, ever!

Betty
Tiffany McDaniel
W & N :
H
achette Australia
ISBN: 9781474617536

Description:

A stunning, lyrical coming-of-age novel set in the rolling foothills of the Appalachians in which a young girl, with only the compass of her father’s imagination, must navigate racism, sexism, and the dark secrets that will haunt her for the rest of her life.

“A girl comes of age against the knife.”

So begins the story of Betty Carpenter. Born in a bathtub in Arkansas in 1954 to a Cherokee father and white mother, Betty is the sixth of eight siblings. The world they inhabit is one of poverty, racism, abuse, and violence–both from outside the family, and also, devastatingly, from within. After years on the road, searching in vain for a better life, the Carpenters return to their hometown of Breathed, Ohio, in northern Appalachia. There, they move into a sprawling wreck of a farmhouse that local legend says is cursed. The townsfolk decide the Carpenters are cursed, too: “My mother gave birth to eight of us,” Betty tells us in her frank, wry voice. “More than one would die for no good reason in the prizewinning years of their youth. Some blamed God for taking too few. Others accused the Devil of leaving too many.”

But Betty is resilient. Her father’s inventive stories are kindling for the fire of her own imagination and even in the face of tragedy and death, her creativity is irrepressible. Against overwhelming odds, she may be the first member of her family to break the cycle of abuse and trauma–and escape.

 

My View:

I Love Tiffany McDaniel’s writing – I just want to grab a pen an underline or flag words to read again – and I never ever mark my books! Or read again. Just like her debut The Summer That Melted Everything – I love love love the writing, the emotions, the themes, the protagonists, the contemporary issues and that this writing is based on family history.   What a story! Grab the tissues there are so many poignant moments without being melodramatic – in fact melodrama is the opposite of how this book is written.

 

Let me share an example of the scintillating writing:

After dinner Old Woman Slipperwort went to bed. I fell asleep watching TV through the crawling ants and static. I woke a few hours later, needing to pee. I walked quietly toward her bedroom, hoping I could pass through to the bathroom.

Like the night before, I found her naked and sitting on the edge of her bed. Unaware I was there, she continued to massage her legs, their blue -green veins twisting beneath her skin.  I wasn’t as afraid seeing her body this second night. In the folds and creases, I saw her history. Her skin the diary of her soul. All the springs she had watched the flowers bloom. The summers she had stood before the moon and kissed its face. The autumns she had grown wiser. The winter that had frozen the initials of her name. Each wrinkle was a record of this and every hour, minute an second she had lived. The things she had asked God for. The things she had cursed the devil about. In the folds and creases I saw beauty.“p 294 ( The back story to this will make your heart break) I am tearing up revisiting this section. This writer can see into the souls of people and transform that vision in words on the page

 

READ THIS BOOK.

 

Like The Summer That Melted Everything I predict awards for Betty.

Simple Chocolate & Hazelnut Cake: Easy Gluten Free – Helen Tzouganatos

Easy Gluten Free by Helen Tzouganatos

Published by Plum

RRP $39.99,

Photography by Jeremy Simons

 

This cake is so easy to make and so delicious – I think hazelnut meal is my new favourite ingredient. It was our daughters birthday, I made the cake and grandson decorated – with ALL the decorations.  It was delicious.

When I was growing up I loved smearing chocolate hazelnut spread on white bread as an afternoon treat.
Thankfully supermarkets now stock organic dairy-free chocolate hazelnut spreads that are much tastier
and cleaner than the leading brands. Hazelnut meal is fantastic for baking because it has a buttery, nutty
flavour and keeps cakes incredibly moist without the need for added fat. This cake is super quick to whip
up and the two-ingredient chocolate ganache couldn’t be easier.” p258

 

6 eggs
310 g (1 1/3 cups) caster sugar
330 g (3 cups) hazelnut meal (see Note)
2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
pinch of sea salt flakes
chopped hazelnuts, to decorate

GANACHE
150 g (¾ cup) dairy-free chocolate
hazelnut spread
60 ml (¼ cup) coconut cream

Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan-forced). Grease and line a 20 cm
round cake tin with baking paper.
Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar for 3 minutes or until
light and fluffy. Add the hazelnut meal, baking powder and salt and
mix until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 50 minutes or until
a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin for
10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the ganache, place the chocolate hazelnut spread and
coconut cream in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until
smooth and well combined.
Pour the ganache over the cooled cake. Using a spatula, spread it
right to the edge and smooth the surface, allowing a little ganache to
drizzle down the side of the cake. Decorate with chopped hazelnuts,
then cut into slices and serve. Leftover cake will keep in an airtight
container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

NOTE
• You can replace the hazelnut meal with almond meal if you like. It will
have a finer texture and a milder flavour but will be just as delicious.

Easy Bowl and Spoon Gluten Free Loaf: Easy Gluten Free – Helen Tzouganatos

‘Easy Gluten Free by Helen Tzouganatos, Published by Plum, RRP $39.99, Photography by Jeremy Simons’  

 

Gluten Free cooking is my new “everyday”, I love this book!

 

Easy Bowl and Spoon Gluten Free Loaf

MAKES 1 LOAF DF, GF, V
Baking doesn’t get much easier than this. Unlike regular bread, which requires kneading, all you need to
do with this loaf is mix the ingredients in a bowl like a cake batter, then pour into a tin for a light, fluffy
loaf (not dense and heavy, as gluten-free bread can often be). Tapioca is fantastic in gluten-free bread
because it gives it a soft, bouncy texture, and buckwheat injects a nutritious boost of protein, fibre
and antioxidants. Get creative and replace the sesame seeds with chia seeds, poppy seeds, linseeds or
pumpkin seeds, or you could even go seedless. All combinations are delicious.” p29

 

1 teaspoon caster sugar
7 g sachet dried yeast
2 eggs
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil,
plus extra for drizzling
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
210 g (1 3/4 cups) tapioca flour, sifted
210 g (1 3/4 cups) buckwheat flour, sifted
2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
sesame seeds, for sprinkling

Place the sugar, yeast and 300 ml of lukewarm water in a jug and whisk to combine. Leave to stand for 10–15 minutes or until the mixture foams.

Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl, then stir in the olive oil and vinegar.

Combine the flours, salt and xanthan gum in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour the yeast and egg mixtures into the well and mix with a spoon until well combined.

Grease a 20 cm × 10 cm loaf tin with olive oil and sprinkle sesame seeds on the base and sides to create a seeded crust. Spoon the dough into the tin and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm place for about 1 hour or until the dough has almost doubled in size.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C (fan-forced). Drizzle olive oil over the risen dough and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden. Remove the tin from the oven and immediately transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool (this will help the crust stay crisp). Leave to cool for a few hours before slicing.

The loaf will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days or in the fridge for 1 week. Alternatively, slice it and freeze for up to a month. Frozen slices toast well – no thawing required.

TIP
• Don’t slice the bread while it’s still hot as it will be gummy and sticky.
You need to let the steam inside settle for a few hours first.
VARIATION
• Replace the buckwheat flour with tiger nut flour for a slightly sweeter
loaf that is equally nutritious.

#FridayFreebie House of Correction – Nicci French

 

House of Correction 

Nicci French 

Simon & Schuster

Description:

‘So,’ said Mora Piozzi, her lawyer, looking down at her laptop. ‘In brief: you are charged with the murder of Stuart Robert Rees, on December 21st, between the hours of ten-forty in the morning and half-past three o’clock in the afternoon.’

Tabitha is accused of murder. She is in prison awaiting trial.
There is a strong case against her, and she can’t remember what happened on December 21st.
She is alone, frightened and confused.
But somehow, from the confines of her cell, she needs to prove everyone wrong.

House of Correction is beautifully written, clever, shocking, twisty, so believable and utterly compelling. This is another stunningly brilliant novel to relish from Nicci French.

 

 

**Thanks to the generous people at Simon & Schuster  Australia I have one copy of this magnificent read for you to win. ( I finished reading this a couple of days ago – it’s brilliant! ) Australian residents only – answer me this in the comments- who is Nicci French? I will randomly select the winner on the 2nd of September – publication day. **

Review: Torched -Kimberley Starr

Torched

Kimberley Starr

Panterra Press

ISBN: 9780648571537

 

Description:

An explosive, haunting and utterly compelling crime novel about mothers and sons and the ties that bind them.

 

A small Yarra Valley town has been devastated by a bushfire, and Reefton Primary School Principal Phoebe Warton can’t sleep. She’s the single mother of Caleb who is accused of starting the fire – on purpose. Twelve people are dead, students from her school among them; only a monster would cause such carnage. But where was her son that day? No one knows but Caleb, and he’s not talking.

 

Against mounting community rage, Phoebe sets out to clear her son. But every avenue leads back to Caleb. Why did he vanish from his Country Fire Authority shift? Who else was at the abandoned goldmine that day? Why is Caleb refusing to speak?

 

Phoebe will be forced to confront the nature of guilt and redemption, and decide what boundaries she is willing to cross to save the son she loves.

 

 

My View:

The publishing date for this read was changed a few times due to COVID- 19 issues of restrictions and the coincidental major bush fires in Australia- how difficult it must have been to be planning to release a book whose central character is a fatal bush fires and then an actual fire ravishes huge parts of Eastern Australia, devastating for the author and for the areas affected by the fires.

 

And so, I read this book, was fascinated, loved the tension packed pages, loved the family story and if you have ever wondered how it felt to actually be in the mist of a bush fires – well this read is so believable, so visual…I was “there”, smelling the fire, heat burning my nostrils… And then everything halted. The release was postponed and the book languished on my desk, pretty soon covered in various notes, other books to review…

 

This book is fabulous! It is on my list of “best reads of 2020” and I hope it will soon be on yours.

 

Review: The Long Shadow – Anne Buist

The Long Shadow

Anne Buist

Text Publishing

ISBN: 9781922268709

 

Description:

Write down something about yourself, as a mother, that worries you.

 

Psychologist Isabel Harris has come to the outback town of Riley because her husband Dean is assessing the hospital—the hub of the community—with a view to closing it down. Isabel, mostly occupied with her toddler, will run a mother–baby therapy group. But on the first day she gets an anonymous note from one of the mothers:

 

The baby killer is going to strike again. Soon.

 

Then a series of small harassments begins.

 

Is it an attempt to warn Dean off? Or could the threat be serious? A child was murdered in Riley once before.

 

As Isabel discovers more about the mothers in her group, she begins to believe the twenty-five-year-old mystery of a baby’s death may be the key to preventing another tragedy.

 

My View:

What did I love about this read? So much to enjoy if you stop and take the time to absorb the many themes presented in this read; motherhood, what is home, domestic violence, family violence, racism, small town attitudes, family dramas, sins of the past…for me this was a slow burn with so many fascinating aspects. I particularly liked hearing the voice of the protagonist – her many views on life in the town – as a psychologist  dealing with her clients, her insights into their issues are fascinating, as  an individual suffering her own stresses – again interesting, as a “new comer” to town she has a unique perspective.

 

Now I’ve sampled the thoughtful writing in this standalone I am very keen to read the Natalie King series of thrillers that Anne Buist is well known for.