Review: Winter in Sokcho – Elisa Shua Dusapin, translated by Aneesa Abbas Higgins

Winter in Sokcho (Hiver à Sokcho)

Elisa Shua Dusapin

 Aneesa Abbas Higgins (Translator)

Scribe

ISBN: 9781922585011

RRP $22.99

Description:

As if Marguerite Duras wrote Convenience Store Woman — a beautiful, unexpected novel from a debut French-Korean author.

It’s winter in Sokcho, a tourist town on the border between South and North Korea. The cold slows everything down. Bodies are red and raw, the fish turn venomous, beyond the beach guns point out from the North’s watchtowers. A young French Korean woman works as a receptionist in a tired guesthouse. One evening, an unexpected guest arrives: a French cartoonist determined to find inspiration in this desolate landscape. The two form an uneasy relationship. When she agrees to accompany him on trips to discover an “authentic” Korea, they visit snowy mountaintops and dramatic waterfalls, and cross into North Korea. But he takes no interest in the Sokcho she knows — the gaudy neon lights, the scars of war, the fish market where her mother works. As she’s pulled into his vision and taken in by his drawings, she strikes upon a way to finally be seen.

An exquisitely-crafted debut, which won the Prix Robert Walser, Winter in Sokcho is a novel about shared identities and divided selves, vision and blindness, intimacy and alienation. Elisa Shua Dusapin’s voice is distinctive and unmistakable.

My View:

This quietly spoken little book is quite remarkable! I loved the voice, I loved its style – minimalist yet full of poignant, expressive moments captured succinctly and in an unassuming manner.

This is a book that demands much fanfare!! This is a read I will be recommending to all I see. It is exquisite reading and perfectly translated.  I don’t think my words can do this book justice, all I can do is suggest you pick this book up and start reading…you will find time disappears as you enter the protagonist’s world.

We all wish to be seen.

Perfect. Memorable. The best read in many years.

Review: False Witness – Karin Slaughter

False Witness

Karin Slaughter

Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9781460757062

RRP $32.99

Description:

He saw what you did … He knows who you are. The stunning new standalone from the no.1 international bestselling author

AN ORDINARY LIFE …

Leigh Coulton has worked hard to build what looks like a normal life. She has a good job as a defence attorney, a daughter doing well in school, and even her divorce is relatively civilised – her life is just as unremarkable as she’d always hoped it would be.

HIDES A DEVASTATING PAST …

But Leigh’s ordinary life masks a childhood which was far from average … a childhood tarnished by secrets, broken by betrayal, and finally torn apart by a devastating act of violence.

BUT NOW THE PAST IS CATCHING UP …

Then a case lands on her desk – defending a wealthy man accused of rape. It’s the highest profile case she’s ever been given – a case which could transform her career, if she wins. But when she meets the accused, she realises that it’s no coincidence that he’s chosen her as his attorney. She knows him. And he knows her. More to the point, he knows what happened twenty years ago, and why Leigh has spent two decades running.

AND TIME IS RUNNING OUT.

If she can’t get him acquitted, she’ll lose much more than the case. The only person who can help her is her younger, estranged sister Calli, the last person Leigh would ever want to ask for help. But suddenly she has no choice …

My View:

Looking for an author who never disappoints? Look no further. I can highly recommend every single book this author has written.

This book comments on bullying, addictions, predatory behaviour…redemption. There is so much behaviour I recognise (but not quite so violently as Ms Slaughter writes), and I love how thrilling, engaging, tense and passionate writing can shed the light on so many issues without preaching or ranting.

As always Karin Slaughter is a great writer! 5 stars from me.

Review: Catch us the Foxes – Nicola West

Catch Us the foxes

Nicola West

Simon & Schuster Australia

ISBN: 9781760857479

RRP $32.99

Description:

Some secrets you try to hide. Others you don’t dare let out … Twin Peaks meets The Dry in a deliciously dark and twisted tale that unravels a small town

Ambitious young journalist Marlowe ‘Lo’ Robertson would do anything to escape the suffocating confines of her small home town. While begrudgingly covering the annual show for the local paper, Lo is horrified to discover the mutilated corpse of Lily Williams, the reigning showgirl and Lo’s best friend. Seven strange symbols have been ruthlessly carved into Lily’s back. But when Lo reports her grisly find to the town’s police chief, he makes her promise not to tell anyone about the symbols. Lo obliges, though it’s not like she has much of a choice – after all, he is also her father.

When Lily’s murder makes headlines around the country and the town is invaded by the media, Lo seizes the opportunity to track down the killer and make a name for herself by breaking the biggest story of her life.

What Lo uncovers is that her sleepy home town has been harbouring a deadly secret, one so shocking that it will captivate the entire nation. Lo’s story will change the course of her life forever, but in a way, she could never have dreamed of.

My View:

This book had many interesting/intriguing parts but unfortunately, I could not suspend my disbelief to comfortably ride out this narrative.  I think this is a book that will divide readers – you will either enjoy or like me will walk away feeling dissatisfied and unhappy with the ending.  

The plusses – some great moments of intrigue, dilemmas, social issues highlighted …the best creepy character – Michael (very subtlety but creepily portrayed), many twists and turns.  Bound to cause lots of discussions in book groups.

The minuses –   so many “about faces”, my inability to suspend my disbelief, it felt like the book was trying to be too many things and not sure what that “thing” should have been.  The social issues that were sympathetically highlighted then later ridiculed /condemned. The ending…you either will love or hate it.

If you have read this, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Review: Still – Matt Nable

Still

Matt Nable

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733644740

RRP $32.99

Description:

STILL is an evocative, confronting and page-turning thriller from a brilliant Australian writer. If you loved THE DRY and SCRUBLANDS, you will love STILL.

Darwin, Summer, 1963.

The humidity sat heavy and thick over the town as Senior Constable Ned Potter looked down at a body that had been dragged from the shallow marshland. He didn’t need a coroner to tell him this was a bad death. He didn’t know then that this was only the first. Or that he was about to risk everything looking for answers.

Late one night, Charlotte Clark drove the long way home, thinking about how stuck she felt, a 23-year-old housewife, married to a cowboy who wasn’t who she thought he was. The days ahead felt suffocating, living in a town where she was supposed to keep herself nice and wait for her husband to get home from the pub. Charlotte stopped the car, stepped out to breathe in the night air and looked out over the water to the tangled mangroves. She never heard a sound before the hand was around her mouth.

Both Charlotte and Ned are about to learn that the world they live in is full of secrets and that it takes courage to fight for what is right. But there are people who will do anything to protect themselves and sometimes courage is not enough to keep you safe.

My View:

The hype did not mislead, this is a brilliant read! Powerfully written; emotive, evocative, filmic, tragic, an expose of historical violence and racism in a remote town, intriguing with more than a few dead bodies (and some nearly so).

This book is a time capsule of the 60’s in regional Australia; the idea of women’s rights, women as directors of their own destiny, is just starting to surface, witness the Stolen Generation policy in action, the fear it generated, the family disruptions, as we are taken back to the not to distant past, a past that can be confronting and challenging.

Women’s rights, racism, violence, corruption, revenge and the isolation of distance intersect and interact in often heart-breaking scenarios, yet there is hope. There is an amazing read. Be prepared to be transported to another time and another place. Be prepared for nail biting tension… and crocodiles.

I will most certainly be looking for more reads by this author.

P S Love the cover art.

Overnight Cinnamon Buns: Food for the Soul – Lucy Lord

It’s winter, time to get baking. Cinnamon scrolls/buns are one of my favourites.

Recipes and images taken from Food for the Soul by Lucy Lord, published by HarperCollins.

Overnight cinnamon buns with a maple cream cheese glaze

225ml milk

1 tbsp active dried yeast

90g granulated sugar, plus 1 tbsp

550g strong white bread flour

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or use vanilla extract)

2 large eggs

75g butter, melted

FOR THE FILLING

6 tbsp butter, at room temperature

180g soft dark brown sugar

2 tbsp ground cinnamon

FOR THE MAPLE CREAM CHEESE GLAZE

120g cream cheese

3 tbsp butter, at room temperature

75g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or use vanilla extract)

4 tbsp maple syrup

pinch of salt

1. Gently warm the milk in a pan until it’s ‘bath-water warm’, then pour into a jug and add the yeast and

the tablespoon of sugar. Stir to mix and then leave to activate for 5 minutes, or until it goes foamy.

2. Put the flour, cinnamon and salt into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the 90g granulated sugar,

vanilla, eggs and melted butter and then pour this into the bowl of flour along with the activated yeast milk.

Mix with a spoon until a dough forms.

3. Turn out on to a lightly floured surface and knead for 8–10 minutes until a smooth dough is formed and

the dough is no longer sticky. Transfer this dough to a clean and lightly oiled bowl, then cover with cling film

and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size. Meanwhile, grease and line a 30 x

20cm baking tray with non-stick baking paper.

4. Without disturbing the risen dough too much, roll it out on a lightly floured surface to a large rectangle,

about 40 x 60cm. Spread the softened butter all over the dough rectangle, leaving an unbuttered

1cm border on all sides. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle this all over the dough, using

your fingers to press it into the butter.

5. Starting at a long edge, tightly roll the dough up like a Swiss roll, pinching at the end to seal and keep a tight

roll. Use a very sharp knife to score and then cut the roll into 12 slices, each about 4cm thick. Trim off any

loose ends.

6. Place the rolls in the greased baking tray, cover tightly with cling film and place in the fridge overnight, or for

at least 12 hours.

7. When you are ready to bake, remove the cinnamon rolls from the fridge, uncover and allow to come

to room temperature for about 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan

8. Bake for 20–25 minutes until starting to turn golden around the edges and the dough is firm to touch and

hollow when tapped with a wooden spoon.

9. Make the cream cheese glaze by combining everything with a hand-held electric whisk in a small bowl.

10. Remove the cinnamon buns from the oven and whilst they are still warm and in the baking tray, generously

spread the glaze over the top. Enjoy warm or keep for 2–3 days in an airtight container at room temperature

or up to 5 days in the fridge.

NOTE

• If you have a stand mixer, use the dough hook attachment to mix and knead the dough.

• These can be frozen once baked or after the first proving; allow to defrost overnight in the fridge and then bake as above.

Review: Flourish for Mums – Sonia Bestulic

Review: Flourish for Mums – Sonia Bestulic

Flourish for Mums

Sonia Bestulic

Big Sky Publishing

ISBN: 9781922387998

Description:

This book is a warm hug for mothers. Motherhood is a personal journey of self-discovery. A mix of feeling delight and wonder, to challenged and overwhelmed – often, all in one day! FLOURISH for Mums is your perfect companion to cultivate 21 healthy ways to let go of unrealistic expectations and create space to celebrate your unique parenting pathway. Filled with uplifting anecdotes and supportive strategies, while busting big misconceptions – this is personal, yet universal in its strong, yet gentle messages. Handbag friendly and always ready to provide a dose of inspiration. Dear mum, it’s time to relax – replenish – FLOURISH.

My View:

There is so much “real” in this book. So much that resonates. It is promoted as a book for new mums but I think this book has a much bigger audience; it’s a book we can all find something to take with us on our life’s journey.  A book for life.

“If I had to summarise the experience of self-forgiveness; it would look a little like this:

SELF-FORGIVENESS

= Self -Awareness

  = Acknowledgement

     = Self- kindness

     = Openness to listening

        = Learning

           = Acceptance

              = Owning

                  = New space for personal growth

Review: Flourish for Mums – Sonia Bestulic

…. tune in and listen to yourself.” P98

#FridayFreebie : The Bombay Prince – Sujata Massey

Thanks to the lovely people at Allen & Unwin Australia I have one copy of the just released book, The Bombay Prince to give away to an Australian resident.

Description:

The redoubtable Perveen Mistry makes her triumphant return to solve a shocking murder on the streets of 1920s Bombay’Perveen [Mistry] is much more than a sari-clad Miss Marple: she’s Bombay’s first female lawyer as well as a keenly intelligent sleuth, a trail-blazing woman balancing the weight of family tradition with her own dreams . . . a deliciously satisfying read!’ Kate Quinn, The New York Times bestselling author of The Rose Code

November, 1921. Edward VIII, Prince of Wales and future ruler of India, is arriving in Bombay to begin a four-month tour.

The Indian subcontinent is chafing under British rule, and India’s only female lawyer, Perveen Mistry, isn’t surprised when local unrest spirals into riots. But she’s horrified by the death of Freny Cuttingmaster, an eighteen-year-old student who falls from a second-floor gallery just as the prince’s grand procession is passing by her college.

Freny had come for a legal consultation just days before her death, and what she confided makes Perveen suspect that her death was not an accident. When Freny’s death is indeed ruled a murder, Perveen knows she can’t rest until she sees justice done.

‘Fantastic! . . . Anyone who likes Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries will love this.’ Bri Lee, bestselling author of Eggshell Skull, on The Satapur Moonstone

‘Massey has created the best gumshoe of them all – the utterly wonderful, exceptional Perveen Mistry. Bright and brilliantly aware.’ The Maitland Mercury on The Satapur Moonstone

**For your chance to win simple tell me the name of either book one or two in this series ( in the comments). Entries will be randomly selected on the 12th of June 2021. Good luck.**

Review: The Book Of Australian Trees – Inga Simpson

The Book of Australian Trees

Inga Simpson

Illustrations Alicia Rogerson

Lothian Children’s Books

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780734418531

RRP $29.99

Description:

Trees tell stories about places. Australia has some of the tallest, oldest, fattest and most unusual trees in the world. They have changed over thousands of years, adapting to this continent’s deserts, mountains, and coasts. Many have found clever ways of dealing with drought and fire.

Their leaves, flowers and seeds are food for birds, insects and mammals. Old trees have lots of hollows, which make good homes for possums, sugar gliders, birds and bees. But trees aren’t just important for other animals, we need them too. What trees breathe out, we breathe in. They are a vital part of the Earth’s ecosystems.

When you first stand in a forest, the trees all seem the same. But if you look more closely, they are each a little different, like people. This book is a love song to Australian trees, from the red ironbark to the grey gum, the Moreton Bay fig to the Queensland bottle tree.

My View:

This is such a beautifully illustrated book! Inga Simpson is a writer and tree lover – her passion for the natural world is evident in all she writes, fiction and non-fiction. Although this book is touted as a children’s read, I think this book is more than that; it is amazingly illustrated and any art lover will enjoy flicking though the pages, it is a great read for anyone interested in the natural world of Australian flora (although I would like to see this expanded to cover more varieties and more regions), this book would make a great gift to send to a relative overseas.  

A delightful book.   

Review: Sixteen Horses – Greg Buchanan

Sixteen Horses

Greg Buchanan

Mantle:

Pan Macmillan Australia

ISBN:9781529027174

RRP$32.99

Description:

Sixteen horses dead. Each buried with a single eye facing the sun . . .

In the dying English seaside town of Ilmarsh, the heads of sixteen horses are found buried in circles, with only their eyes exposed to the light of the low winter sun. The local police call upon forensic veterinarian Cooper Allen to assist with this uniquely disturbing case.

In the weeks that follow, investigators uncover evidence of a chain of crimes in this community: disappearances, arson, and mutilations, all culminating in the reveal of something deadly lurking in the ground itself. And as the town panics, not everything in Ilmarsh is as it seems. . . Dark days follow, then Cooper finds herself working with local police detective Alec Nichols to uncover a frightening mystery.

A literary thriller from a stunning new talent, Sixteen Horses is about enduring guilt, trauma and punishment, set in a small seaside community the rest of the world has left behind.

My View:

WOW! What an incredible read!

I will start by saying what an incredible writer Greg Buchanan is.!! This debut work of crime fiction/mystery/evocative gothic type read is equally compelling and harrowing.

As I read, I felt a swell of emotions ricochet through my mind; I was equally mesmerised and repulsed through out this read.  I was compelled to read this evocative, almost gothic in setting, and horrendous in crimes against animals and humanity, slow burn of a book. I was aghast, I was numb, I was fearful, I could not read more than a few chapters at a time, such was the toll on my emotions, but I kept reading, night after night, because… the writing is captivating.

Is this for you? Only you can decide. It is harrowing. It is brilliant. It is…memorable.

Grilled Chicken, Mango & Avocado Salad: Food for the Soul – Lucy Lord

Grilled chicken, mango and avocado salad with cashews and chilli lime dressing

Serves 2

2 skinless chicken breasts

1 tbsp olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated

Pinch of chilli powder or cayenne pepper

Pinch of salt

Large handful of soft leafy greens, such as lamb’s lettuce and baby spinach

1 mango, peeled, stoned and sliced

1 avocado, peeled, stoned and sliced

Handful of basil, roughly torn

30g cashews, roughly chopped

Lime wedges, to serve

FOR THE DRESSING

2 tbsp olive oil

Zest and juice of ½ lime

½ tbsp apple cider vinegar

½ tbsp honey

Pinch of chilli flakes

Pinch of salt

1. Preheat the grill to high and line a baking tray with foil.

2. In a mug or small jar, whisk the dressing ingredients

together with a fork.

3. Butterfly the chicken breasts in half lengthways and use your hands to rub the olive oil over each one. Place

on the baking tray and sprinkle over the garlic, chilli powder or cayenne pepper and salt, gently rubbing

the seasoning on to both sides of the breast. Grill the chicken for 4–5 minutes on each side, turning halfway,

until golden brown.

4. Meanwhile, assemble the salad leaves and top with the mango, avocado and basil.

5. Once the chicken is cooked, thinly slice into strips and add to the salad along with the cashews. Drizzle over

the dressing and serve with lime wedges.

NOTE

• This salad is best enjoyed fresh but you can cook the chicken and make the dressing in advance and keep

in separate airtight containers in the fridge for up to 3 days, just add the fresh fruits and assemble when

you’re ready to enjoy.

Recipes and images taken from Food for the Soul by Lucy Lord, published by HarperCollins.