Guest Review: Stalking Claremont – Bret Christian

Stalking Claremont
Inside the Hunt for a Serial Killer  
Bret Christian
ABC Books
Harper Collins Publishers Australia

Rachel’s Review:

An incredibly gripping, insightful and compelling look behind the scenes of Australia’s longest-running homicide investigation.

I was absolutely hooked by this fascinating exploration of the horrific crimes and subsequent decades of investigations to catch the murderer that terrorised Claremont.

This meticulous probe into the high-stakes police work, bumbling mistakes, and relentless focus on innocent suspects was riveting. With broad strokes reporter Bret Christian paints a vivid picture of Claremont in the late 1990s, a world that in many ways feels so familiar and yet, in others, so far removed from my own experiences as a young woman in Perth just a decade later – testament to how much we were changed as a town when three women’s lives were cut short. Piecing together what we remember from the last 20 plus years of media coverage with all the things the public never knew, including how the case was eventually cracked, this is a considered, detailed and well-researched ode to three Perth women whose names will never be forgotten – Sarah Spiers, Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon.

Roast Nut and Goji Berry Chocolate Bark -The 16:8 Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle Plan by Jamie Rose Chambers

Just in time for Easter is this fabulously easy chocolate recipe. Your welcome 🙂


The 16:8 Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle Plan by Jamie Rose Chambers,

Published by Macmillan Australia, RRP $34.99,

Photography by Rob Palmer

 

When you have visitors, this is a sweet treat that can be rustled together from pantry items. It takes
no time and can be setting in the fridge waiting to be devoured within a few minutes. I keep a big jar
of nuts and goji berries at home for snacks, so if I have chocolate on hand, it’s a super-quick
sweet solution.” p189

 

 

Makes 16 pieces

200 g good-quality dark chocolate (I like Lindt chocolate)

1½–2 cups roasted mixed nuts, coconut flakes and goji berries

1. Line a baking tray or chopping board with baking paper. Break the chocolate up into a microwave-safe
bowl and melt in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until completely melted.

2. Add the nuts, coconut flakes and goji berry mix to the melted chocolate ½ cup at a time and stir until the
mix is completely covered in chocolate. You can make it as chunky as you like. You can keep adding
the nut mix until it’s jam packed or you can keep it lighter – I make mine super chunky with nuts so I
keep adding them until there’s only just enough chocolate to cover everything before laying out to set.

3. Spoon the chocolate mixture onto the lined tray or board, then use the back of a knife, spoon or spatula
to spread it out in an even layer. At this point, I like to sprinkle a couple more handfuls of nut and berry mix
over the top of the chocolate bark for decoration.

4. Place in the fridge for at least an hour to set, then break or cut into pieces and dive in! If there is any
left over, keep it in an airtight container in the fridge

 

Review- What Do You Call Your Grandma? Ashleigh Barton & Martina Heiduczek

What Do You Call Your Grandma?

Ashleigh Barton

Illustrated by Martina Heiduczek

ABC Books

Harper Collins Publishers Australia

ISBN: 9780733340840

RRP $19.99

 

Description:

An inclusive picture book for grandparents everywhere.

 

In every country around the world are grandmas short and tall.

 

Though they go by different names, we love them one and all.

 

From talented duo Ashleigh Barton and Martina Heiduczek, comes a charming and heart-warming book that celebrates the many different ways we say grandma.

 

What Do You Call Your Grandma? is a love letter to grandmothers and families from every corner of the globe.

 

 

My View:

Another great read to share with your pre-schooler. A great follow up to What Do You Call Your Grandpa. A book that fosters inclusivity, language development and cultural understanding. A great addition to any preschool’s library.

 

 

 

 

#MeatFreeMonday : Healthier Cauliflower Cheese – The 16:8 Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle Plan – Jamie Rose Chambers

 

The 16:8 Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle Plan by Jamie Rose Chambers, Published by Macmillan Australia, RRP $34.99, Photography by Rob Palmer

 

 

“Who doesn’t love caulifower cheese? It’s usually put in the ‘sometimes food’/‘special treat’ category because it’s notorious for being rich and high in calories. My cauli cheese with a healthier twist uses a few easy ingredient swaps to make a delicious alternative, but is still the perfect comforting dinner for when you want something warm and cheesy to snuggle up with.” p 165

 

Serves 4 as a side dish, 2 as a main
1 head of cauliflower
3 eggs
½ cup (130 g) plain Greek-style yoghurt
1 heaped teaspoon dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup (50 g) coarsely grated tasty cheddar


1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Remove the core of the cauliflower but be careful not to cut too deeply – you
want the head to stay together.

2. Place a steamer tray on top of a large saucepan filled with water and bring to the boil over high heat. Once
boiling, place the cauliflower, stalk side down, in the steamer, and cover with a lid. Allow to steam for
about 5 minutes or until it begins to soften. Turn off the heat, remove the lid to release the steam and
leave the cauliflower to dry off for a few minutes.


3. Place the cauliflower in a small baking dish so it sits quite snugly. In a large bowl or jug, whisk together
the eggs, yoghurt, mustard and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Stir through the grated cheese,
then pour this mixture all over the cauliflower and bake for 20–25 minutes, or until golden.


4. This can be enjoyed as a light vegetarian meal but we love having it at home as a side dish with some fish
or a schnitzel (see page 166)

 

 

Review: The Shadow Man – Helen Sarah Fields

The Shadow Man

Helen Sarah Fields

Avon

Harper Collins Aust

ISBN: 9780008394073

Description:

The brand new crime thriller from the bestselling author of the Perfect series – Helen Fields is back with her first stand-alone novel!

 

He collects his victims. But he doesn’t keep them safe.

 

Elspeth, Meggy and Xavier are locked in a flat. They don’t know where they are, and they don’t know why they’re there. They only know that the shadow man has taken them, and he won’t let them go.

 

Desperate to escape, the three of them must find a way out of their living hell, even if it means uncovering a very dark truth.

 

Because the shadow man isn’t a nightmare. He’s all too real.

 

And he’s watching.

 

Helen Fields is back with a heart-pounding new book, perfect for fans of Cara Hunter and Stuart MacBride.

 

 

My View:

 

Without a doubt one of the scariest, creepiest books I have read. Fabulous!!!

 

Enough said- if you crime fiction is your thing – READ THIS.

Review: Tipping – Anna George

Tipping

Anna George

Viking

Penguin Books

ISBN: 9781760897789

Description:

An Instagram scandal at a grammar school sparks outrage in an exclusive bayside suburb and upends the lives of the families involved. However, it might also prove to be the tipping point required to change the school, and the wider community, for the better.

 

Liv Winsome, working mother of three sons, wife to decent if distracted Duncan, is overwhelmed. And losing her hair. Her doctor has told her she needs to slow down, do less. Focus on what’s important.

 

After Jai, one of her fourteen-year-old twins, is involved in a sexting scandal, Liv realises things need to change, and fast. Inspired by the pop-psychology books she devours, she writes a nine-page list of everything she does to keep the family afloat, and she delegates. She lets her boys’ conservative school know it has some work to do, too – partly, Liv suspects, because its leadership has a ‘woman problem’ (or, rather, a too-many-men problem).

 

Jai’s girlfriend, Grace, is at the heart of the sexting scandal and her mum, Jess Charters, up in arms as well, goes to the media. The women’s combined focus forces Carmichael Grammar to take action. To everyone’s surprise, and Liv’s delight, things actually start to improve.

 

Inspired by his wife’s efforts, Duncan rethinks the way he lives and works, too, despite the workaholic culture of his law firm and its scary managing partner, who’s also Duncan’s older brother. In unexpected ways, Liv and Duncan’s marriage and family life undergo their own transformations. Some new developments, though, aren’t entirely welcome.

 

Light-hearted and optimistic, Tipping is a novel for our times. It’s a story of domestic activism. Mum and dad activism. Because real change is possible. Sometimes all it takes is a tweak. And the will. And a bit of fun.

 

My View:

I did so want to love this. I have mixed feelings about this read. The premise is interesting but…I did not connect with any of the characters, I actually didn’t like most of them. I liked the ideas on how to make academic learning inclusive, on how to remove gender bias, on how to “fix” the broken school but it all seemed a little too simple to me, a little unrealistic in its execution. I did get some great ideas here that made me wonder if our local schools use any of these techniques?

 

However the read felt a little like a parable…a lesson being given wrapped up in contemporary narrative.

 

I think you will find this a great read for the train or the beach.

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing: As Swallow’s Fly- L P McMahon

As Swallows Fly

L P McMahon

Ventura Press

ISBN: 9781920727574

 

Description:

When Malika, a young orphan in rural Pakistan, is savagely attacked, her face is left disfigured and her self-esteem destroyed. Haunted by the assault, she hides from the world, finding solace in her mathematical theories. A few years later, her intellectual brilliance is discovered and she leaves conflict-stricken Pakistan for a better education in Melbourne, where she finds herself placed with Kate—a successful plastic surgeon facing emotional insecurities of her own.

Malika and Kate’s lives slowly intertwine as they find within each other what each has lacked alone. At first, Kate’s skills appear to offer a simple solution to Malika’s anguish, but when tragedy strikes, the price of beauty is found to be much higher than either of them could have known.

As Swallows Fly is a poignant portrayal of survival, identity and empowerment in a culture dominated by the pursuit of perfection. In a captivating and unforgettable debut, McMahon asks what might be possible if we have the courage to be flawed.

 

My View:

This is an amazing 5 star read! This character driven narrative will win your heart and have you staying up way too late to discover how the protagonists, Kate and Malika, resolve their dilemmas and continue their respective lives.

This is a spellbinding read.  Captivating and compelling; the story arcs deftly woven together taking the reader to unfamiliar places and at times harrowing events.  I found it unusual and refreshing that a work of contemporary fiction could be so compelling.

I highly recommend this read.

*****

Let me introduce you to Lawrie McMahon as he discusses A Doctor and writer, a disfigured girl from Pakistan. What’s the story?

My work in Pakistan was in a voluntary capacity, helping out in a small mission hospital in a small town north of Lahore (Gujrat). People of all faiths were always welcome and it was chastening to see the way the villagers lived, what mattered to them, how they dealt with loss (often of their children), and the strictness of the culture. I saw their lives devastated by loss but, in a way beyond my capacity, they were able to continue and even rebuild.  These experiences were all key aspects influencing Malika’s character development. I realise now how the experience and memories have influenced my life too. The memories of that time remain crystal clear. I still find myself wondering what happened to the people I met there – young and old – and how life has changed for them. It remains an ambition to return.”

 

The progression from short stories to this debut….

The difference between short story writing and writing the novel could not have been more different.  I expect it to be the same for most writers. Complexity in both characters and plot were the main practical differences. My short stories focus on defined situations and experiences—the character is etched clearly and quickly, and the narrative progresses in its limited arc to the finish. It must be contained. The novel depends on the characters changing as the novel progresses. We see a much richer version of the humanity and flaws within the person. As a writer, I hope the difference is clear. In addition, the novel raised a whole series of challenges: subplots, subtleties of character and motive as they developed and were given their due. It remains a continued learning experience. A journey, as they say.

 

Thanks so much to Dr Lawrie McMahon and Ventura Press for these insights.

 

#FridayFreebie: Other Peoples Houses – Kelli Hawkins

Other People’s Houses

Kelli Hawkins

Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9781460759226

 

Description:

A stunningly tense, page-turning debut for all fans of The Woman in the Window and The Girl on the Train The perfect house. The perfect family. Too good to be true.

 

Kate Webb still grieves for her young son, ten years after his loss. She spends her weekends hungover, attending open houses on Sydney’s wealthy north shore and imagining the lives of the people who live there.

 

Then Kate visits the Harding house – the perfect house with, it seems, the perfect family. A photograph captures a kind-looking man, a beautiful woman she once knew from university days, and a boy – a boy that for one heartbreaking moment she believes is her own son.

 

When her curiosity turns to obsession, she uncovers the cracks that lie beneath a glossy facade of perfection, sordid truths she could never have imagined.

 

** Thanks to the wonderful people at Harper Collins Australia, I have one copy of this stunning debut to offer you as a giveaway. Simply state the city this book is set in, in the comments. Open to Australian residents only. Winner randomly selected on 19th March 2021.**

 

 

Four-Ingredient Toppings for Baked Salmon -The 16:8 Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle Plan by Jamie Rose Chambers

This is a fantastic book! It has many helpful suggestions including ways to make the IF lifestyle suit your lifestyle ( there is  even an IF guide for the retired couple), some great quick no fuss recipes and a yummy chocolate bark recipe which I will  share with you later.

 


The 16:8 Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle Plan by Jamie Rose Chambers,

Published by Macmillan Australia, RRP $34.99,

Photography by Rob Palmer

 

Four-ingredient toppings for baked salmon

“One of my favourite quick meals for our family when I’m in a bit of a rush and have defrosted or (am lucky to have) some fresh salmon fillets is one of my go-to four-ingredient salmon toppings. It takes less than a couple of minutes to throw the ingredients into a small bowl, drizzle over the top of the salmon fillets and on they go into a hot oven until golden. p. 136”

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a baking tray with
baking paper and arrange the salmon fillets on the
tray, leaving space between them.

2. Choose a flavour topping and mix all of the
ingredients in a small bowl.

3. Drizzle or spoon the flavour topping evenly on top of
each salmon fillet. Some toppings will be thick and
sit on top of the salmon, others will be runny and
will pool around the base of the salmon fillet. Both
types will be delicious.

4. Bake in the oven for 20–25 minutes for medium,
or longer if you like your salmon well done.

 

1.Yoghurt and herbs:
150 g Greek-style yoghurt (no-fat, low-fat or full-fat yoghurt will all work here)
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon finely chopped dill fronds
juice of ½ small lemon
sea salt

2. Coconut korma:
150 g coconut yoghurt
2 tablespoons korma paste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon desiccated coconut

 

3.Garlic, mustard and lemon
1 tablespoon minced garlic
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons dijon mustard

4.Soy and sesame:
1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

 

 

 

Review: Other Peoples Houses – Kelli Hawkins

Other People’s Houses

Kelli Hawkins

Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9781460759226

 

Description:

A stunningly tense, page-turning debut for all fans of The Woman in the Window and The Girl on the Train The perfect house. The perfect family. Too good to be true.

 

Kate Webb still grieves for her young son, ten years after his loss. She spends her weekends hungover, attending open houses on Sydney’s wealthy north shore and imagining the lives of the people who live there.

 

Then Kate visits the Harding house – the perfect house with, it seems, the perfect family. A photograph captures a kind-looking man, a beautiful woman she once knew from university days, and a boy – a boy that for one heartbreaking moment she believes is her own son.

 

When her curiosity turns to obsession, she uncovers the cracks that lie beneath a glossy facade of perfection, sordid truths she could never have imagined.

 

 

My View:

I don’t think I have come across such a unique narrator and unique plot; a mostly functioning alcoholic whose life is coloured with the raw grief of loss. Kate Webb is the most unreliable narrator I have come across yet her world is credible, the self-destructive behaviours understandable as her grief transcends her weak desire to function and exist in the world.

 

But this is not just a book about alcoholism and grief. Without giving away too much, this is a book about domestic violence in its worse form, its is about murders and psychopaths, about control, about relationships, about the glimmer of hope that just might sustain; it is a read where the nothing is as it seems.

 

And it is a read that will keep you up all night until you have discovered the truths. This is a compelling read and I will admit to shedding a silent tear as I finished this.