Review: Broken Ground -Val McDermid

Broken Ground

Broken Ground

Karen Pirie #5

Val McDermid

Little, Brown

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9781408709368

 

Description:

Number one bestseller and queen of crime Val McDermid returns with her most breathtakingly atmospheric and exhilarating novel yet.

 

‘Somebody has been here before us. And he’s still here . . .’

 

When a body is discovered in the remote depths of the Highlands, DCI Karen Pirie finds herself in the right place at the right time. Unearthed with someone’s long-buried inheritance, the victim seems to belong to the distant past – until new evidence suggests otherwise, and Karen is called in to unravel a case where nothing is as it seems.

 

It’s not long before an overheard conversation draws Karen into the heart of a different case, however – a shocking crime she thought she’d already prevented. As she inches closer to the twisted truths at the centre of these murders, it becomes clear that she’s dealing with a version of justice terrifyingly different to her own . . .

 

‘Another stellar read from McDermid, and further evidence that her “Queen of Crime” status will not be challenged’ Scotsman

 

‘There is nothing more gratifying than watching a master craftswoman at work, and she is on fine form here’ Observer

 

‘A compulsively readable tale’ Irish Times

 

 

My View:

Markie wondered how Pirie had survived in the job as long as she had. The woman seemed to have no understanding of how relationships with colleagues were built. How had she been allowed to spiral so far out of control? Closing cases was all well and good, but in the modern police service, being a team player involved more than a team of two. Clearly Pirie couldn’t be brought to heel. She had to be replaced…” (p. 117)

 

Another great episode in DCI Karen Pirie series that weaves a peat bog murder, a serial rapist cold case, domestic violence, a new love interest and a boss who is actively trying to find the grounds to remove Karen Pirie from her job and you have an engaging, exciting and satisfying read.

 

And as DCI Karen Pirie ponders at the end of this episode (p.412) “Like an arrest, this too was only the end of the beginning.”  And I can’t wait to discover what happens next…

 

   

Review: Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One – Raphaelle Giordano

Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One

Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You only Have One

Raphaelle Giordano

Penguin Random House Australia

Bantam

ISBN: 9780143788997

 

Description:

At thirty-eight and a quarter years old, Camille has everything she needs to be happy, or so it seems. Why then does she feel as if happiness has slipped through her fingers? All she wants is to find the path to joy and fulfilment.

 

When Claude, a routinologist, offers his unique advice to help get her there, she seizes the opportunity with both hands. Camille’s journey is full of surprising, creative and richly meaningful lessons, as she sets out to transform her life and realize her dreams one step at a time . . .

 

A charming, feel-good and universal story of one woman’s journey from boredom and dissatisfaction to happiness and fulfilment – if you liked The Happiness Project, The Alchemist or Eat, Pray, Love, you’ll love this.

 

 

My View:

Clever, life affirming, at times humorous, thought provoking.

 

This is a charming, entertaining read that has many lessons to share. I enjoyed the journey that Camille embarks on and the clever twist at the conclusion.

 

 

 

 

Review: Notes on a Nervous Planet – Matt Haig

Notes on a Nervous Planet

Notes on a Nervous Planet

Matt Haig

Allen & Unwin Australia

Cannongate

ISBN:  SBN13: 9781786892676

RRP $ 27.99

 

Description:

The world is messing with our minds.

 

Rates of stress and anxiety are rising. A fast, nervous planet is creating fast and nervous lives. We are more connected, yet feel more alone. And we are encouraged to worry about everything from world politics to our body mass index.

 

– How can we stay sane on a planet that makes us mad?

– How do we stay human in a technological world?

– How do we feel happy when we are encouraged to be anxious?

 

After experiencing years of anxiety and panic attacks, these questions became urgent matters of life and death for Matt Haig. And he began to look for the link between what he felt and the world around him.

 

Notes on a Nervous Planet is a personal and vital look at how to feel happy, human and whole in the 21st century.

 

 

My View:

This is a very raw, honest and insightful book and I commend the writer and the publishers for continuing to print narratives that open up discussions regarding mental health.

 

Haig has successfully distilled the source of a widespread epidemic of stress and nervousness; you may not have thought about it before

(Or maybe you have) how the constant barrage of information and misinformation affects our thinking and increases nervous tension. I will put up my hand and admit that I have been seriously influenced by the information/news of the world that has appeared and made itself so personal in my social media feeds.

 

Perhaps it is timely that I address this review today, September 11, an anniversary that will affect most people on this planet. Perhaps this is the first “major event” that sent waves of nervous energy around the globe? We (Australia) woke to an atrocity that became very personal; live streaming, “on the ground reporting”, fear and anxiety, despair and grief stared us in the eyes and we responded to a tragedy that felt personal to us.  And while we had a right to know about this shocking event, did we need to be so “involved” in someone else’s grief? It is a complex situation but I can’t help but feel, like Matt Haig that we are creating/being exposed to /manipulated into being a very nervous planet; too much information or mis information is almost as bad as too little in these sorts of circumstances.  Empathy is one thing…but we do not need to take on board someone else’s grief, fear, anger. You can listen, understand, sympathise with the problems around you but you do not need to “experience” the negative vibes yourself. A little distance can be good for the collective mental health of the globe.

 

Do as Matt Haig suggests, take a moment, breathe deep, walk in the sun, walk in nature…switch off the phone, the laptop for a while…accept that technology and social media is a part of our life but not the only part. Engage with the real world more often, the benefits will be life changing.

 

 

 

 

Review: Digby and The Duck – Max Landrak

Digby and the Duck

Digby and the Duck

Max Landrak

Hachette Children’s Books

Lothian Children’s’ Books

ISBN: 9780734417770

 

Description:

A book about determination, discovery and a duck . . . or maybe it’s about nothing at all! From the creator of DANNY BLUE’S REALLY EXCELLENT DREAM.

 

Digby can’t shake the feeling he’s being spied on, but by who? Curiosity and investigation will pay off – in the most unexpected way!

 

A wonderfully illustrated, off-beat story that will delight kids, parents and educators.

 

‘Max Landrak’s first children’s book is a delight . . . bound to bring forth giggles’ BOOKS+PUBLISHING on Max Landrak’s DANNY BLUE’S REALLY EXCELLENT DREAM

 

 

My View:

What toddler/child does not love a story that involves a pooh hunt?  J

 

Max Landrak you do not realise what you have started…our toddler grandson is obsessed with the hunt and he is very good at it.  We live in a semi rural area – lot of birds, ducks, kangaroos and dogs. Our grandson takes great delight in discovering the offending article and standing guard till it is removed.  We have the cleanest garden in the west.  J J

 

Chicken Sugo: Adriatico – Paola Bacchia

Adriatico_cover

From Adriatico: Stories and recipes from Italy’s Adriatic Coast by Paola Bacchia

(Smith Street Books, September 2018 – AU$ 55, NZ$ 65)

 

Chicken sugo

Sugo di gallina

 Chicken sugo

SERVES 4–6

1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large brown onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1.2 kg (2 lb 10 oz) chicken (preferably a whole broiler), washed, patted dry and cut into 12 pieces

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

½-1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

sea salt

2 small rosemary sprigs

125 ml (4 fl oz/ ½ cup) dry white wine

2 tablespoons tomato paste

80 ml (2 ½ fl oz/1∕3 cup) boiling water

grated parmesan, to serve

 

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over low heat, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20–30 minutes until soft and starting to fall apart (don’t let it brown), then add the garlic and cook until fragrant.

 

Meanwhile, place the chicken pieces in a bowl and toss with the paprika, pepper and about 1 teaspoon of salt. Rub the spices into the chicken pieces. Add the chicken pieces to the onion mixture, increase the heat to medium and cook for a few minutes until browned. Flip them over and cook for a few more minutes until nicely browned all over. Add the rosemary and half the wine and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine has evaporated. Add the remaining wine and cook for another 10 minutes or until the wine has evaporated again.

 

Dissolve the tomato paste in the boiling water, add to the pan and stir to combine. Cover and simmer for 1½ hours (or 1 hour if you are using thighs and drumsticks), stirring regularly. The chicken should release quite a bit of liquid, especially if you are using thighs and drumsticks, but feel free to add a bit more water if it looks dry. Taste the sauce and add salt if needed.

 

The sugo is ready when the meat is tender and falling off the bones. Remove any smaller bones from the chicken pieces (especially if you are using a chopped whole chicken), then serve topped with grated parmesan.

 

Authors note:

Plump breasts and meaty thighs are what we have come to expect when we eat chicken, but there is much to be said for cooking with an older chook – the ones sometimes called broilers, which have passed their egg-laying prime and are lean and flavoursome from running around the barnyard. I would buy this type of chicken from the Slovenian butcher at the market in Trieste. He’d bring the chickens down from the Carso, and sell them whole or halved, chopped into pieces if you like. They only had a small amount of meat but it was deliciously tender when cooked at length, the skin and bones packing a tasty punch in a broth or a sugo.

Sugo di gallina does not traditionally have a lot of meat in it, and what is there is so tender it’s barely hanging onto the bone. If you can’t find a lean broiler chicken, use a combination of chicken thighs and drumsticks, bones intact. If you do this you may need to reduce the cooking time by 20–30 minutes so the meat does not dry out. This is best served with your favourite pasta or gnocchi, finished with a good sprinkling of parmesan.

Review: Sisters and Brothers – Fiona Palmer

Sisters and Brothers by Fiona Palmer

Sisters and Brothers by Fiona Palmer is published by Hachette Australia. $29.99. Out now.

 

Description:

A poignant novel of heartbreak, adoption and a father’s love by beloved bestselling Australian author, Fiona Palmer.

 

Bill, 72, feels left behind after the death of his adored wife. He relies heavily on his only daughter, Sarah.

 

Sarah, career woman and perfectionist homemaker, struggles to keep up with the Joneses. As her husband grows distant, she has no support network.

 

Emma, a down-to-earth nurse and busy mother of three, always dreamed of having a sister . . . But nothing prepares her for the shock results of a routine blood test.

 

Adam, a successful florist, was raised by his mother. As his dreams start to fall into place, he can’t stop thinking about the father he never had.

 

Finally, Michelle is trying to build cake-making into a career. But at 46, has she left her run too late to fall in love, have children and find her birth parents?

 

These five very different people – all connected but separated by secrets from the past – could be facing their futures together. After all, friends will come and go but sisters and brothers are forever . . . The new novel of heartbreak, adoption, family and a father’s love by the Top Ten bestselling author of Secrets Between Friends, Fiona Palmer

 

 

My View:

For me this was a very nostalgic readI loved reading about this era (70’s- 80’s), clichéd as it may be – life was so different then and Fiona Palmer captures the innocence of youth (distilled into the character of the protagonist, Bill) juxtaposed against rapid changes in communications, music, health care, technology, the developing women’s’ rights movement…this is a sociology lesson without the homework 🙂

 

This is a narrative that is built on a foundation of secrets. It is poignant, reflective and ultimately healing. This is a most enjoyable read but don’t be surprised if you shed a tear or two as you join Bill on his life’s journey.  Heart-warming, nostalgic, romantic, love affirming…this book has it all.

PS whilst reading this I was inspired to paint this – don’t you think it shouts 70’s to you?

 

carol's art