Guest Review: The French Photographer – Natasha Lester

The French Photographer

Natasha Lester

Hachette AU

ISBN: 9780733640025

 

Description:

Inspired by the incredible true story of Lee Miller, Vogue model turned one of the first female war photojournalists, the new novel by the bestselling author of The Paris Seamstress

Manhattan, Paris, 1942: When Jessica May’s successful modelling career is abruptly cut short, she is assigned to the war in Europe as a photojournalist for Vogue. But when she arrives the army men make her life as difficult as possible. Three friendships change that: journalist Martha Gellhorn encourages Jess to bend the rules, paratrooper Dan Hallworth takes her to places to shoot pictures and write stories that matter, and a little girl, Victorine, who has grown up in a field hospital, shows her love. But success comes at a price.

France, 2005: Australian curator D’Arcy Hallworth arrives at a beautiful chateau to manage a famous collection of photographs. What begins as just another job becomes far more disquieting as D’Arcy uncovers the true identity of the mysterious photographer — and realises that she is connected to D’Arcy’s own mother, Victorine.

Crossing a war-torn Europe from Italy to France, The French Photographer is a story of courage, family and forgiveness, by the bestselling author of The Paris Seamstress and A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald.

 

Brenda’s Review:

Jessica May’s modelling career stalled when she headed for Europe as a photojournalist in 1942. She was only allowed to the hospital camps – women couldn’t go near the front line – and while the male journalists had their own areas to send copy from, Jess and her friend Martha Gellhorn had to do the best they could. It would be the meeting by Jess of Dan Hallworth, paratrooper in charge of many men and well respected by those same men, that would change Jess’ ability within those pages of war, and the stories and pictures that would make a difference.

When Jess first met Victorine, a sweet little girl who was being cared for at one of the field hospitals, she soon grew to love her. The daily horrors and cruelty that surrounded them all were eased just slightly as she held Victorine in her arms. Other women photojournalists joined Jess and Martha, among them Lee Miller – their work essential, and what the censors didn’t cut out, made it to publication.

When Australian curator D’Arcy Hallworth arrived at the chateau in France in 2005 to collate the photographs of an unknown photographer, she had no idea the shattering changes which were about to overtake her life. Her disbelief when she saw a photo of her own mother in among the relics of the past had her doubting everything she’d known of her life. D’Arcy couldn’t understand the connection of her mother to this long ago past – and she wasn’t sure if she was brave enough to pursue it either…

The French Photographer is the latest by Aussie author Natasha Lester and it’s absolutely heartbreakingly brilliant! I can’t believe this author can continue to improve her books, time and again – but this one, in my opinion, is her best yet! Based on fact, the descriptions of the war years, the different characters which grew on me – Jennings was a sweetheart; Victorine a delight – and the others who were despicable but so well drawn. But the three main characters – Jess, Dan and Victorine – were so very special. The French Photographer is a wonderful historical fiction novel by an author who is right on top of her game – and I highly recommend it. 5 stars

With thanks to Hachette AU for my copy to read in exchange for an honest review.

#Meat FreeMonday: Cauliflower Cakes – The Dirty Dishes – Isaac Carew

‘The Dirty Dishes: 100 Fast and Delicious Recipes by Isaac Carew, Published by Bluebird, RRP $39.99’ 

 

Cauliflower cakes
This is a twist on a potato rosti I used to make when I was a Saturday boy for my dad in the restaurant. One of my jobs was grating about a million potatoes to make crispy potato rostis. The amount of time and finesse it took to get the rostis perfectly crisp and brown on either side . . . I have never concentrated on something so much in my life! Having said that, these are really simple to cook. Just watch out for the water content in the cauliflower mixture before you start frying because you don’t want it to be too soggy.” p. 180

serves 2

sea salt
1 x 500g head of cauliflower, cored
and cut into florets
olive oil, for frying
1 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp smoked paprika
40g strong flour
50g vegan hard cheese, grated
15g chives, chopped
pinch of smoked sea salt (optional)

To serve
green salad
dollop of dirty chilli sauce

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil over a medium heat. Add the cauliflower and boil for 3 minutes.
Drain, then set aside to stand for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, hit a saucepan with a small amount of olive oil and sweat the onion for 2 minutes. Add the
garlic and smoked paprika and sweat for another 3 minutes.

Add the cauliflower to the onion and stir in the flour. Cook for 1 minute.

Either transfer the mixture to a food processor and pulse for 10 seconds, or chop the mixture until
fine on a chopping board. Allow the mixture to cool, then add the vegan hard cheese, chives and a
pinch of smoked sea salt, if using.

Form the cauliflower into 6–8 cakes. Either fry them in a splash of oil for 3 minutes on each side and
serve straightaway, or make the cakes in advance and allow them to firm up in the fridge for an hour
before frying.

Serve with a simple salad and the dirty sauce

.
TIP Boiling the cauliflower partly cooks it, takes some of the bitterness away and makes it easier to
form into cakes.

Review: The Go-Away Bird – written by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Catherine Rayner

The Go Away Bird

Julia Donaldson illustrated by Catherine Rayner

Macmillan Children’s Books

ISBN: 9781509843589

RRP $24.99

 

Description:

A gorgeous story about friendship and working together from a star picture-book partnership, the inimitable Julia Donaldson and award-winning Catherine Rayner.

 

‘The Go-Away bird sat up in her nest,

With her fine grey wings and her fine grey crest.’

 

One by one, the other birds fly into her tree, wanting to talk or to play, but the Go-Away bird just shakes her head and sends them all away. But then the dangerous Get-You bird comes along, and she soon realizes that she might need some friends after all . . .

 

The Go-Away Bird combines brilliant rhyming verse from much-loved children’s author Julia Donaldson, creator of the bestselling picture books The Gruffalo and What the Ladybird Heard, with stunning illustrations from the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal-winning Catherine Rayner. A charming story about the power of friendship from a thrilling creative partnership, this beautiful book is perfect for reading together.

 

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Julia Donaldson is the author of some of the world’s best-loved children’s books, including the modern classic The Gruffalo, which has sold over 17 million copies worldwide, and the hugely successful What the Ladybird Heard adventures. Julia also writes fiction, including the Princess Mirror-Belle books illustrated by Lydia Monks, as well as poems, plays and songs – and her brilliant live shows are always in demand. Catherine Rayner studied illustration at Edinburgh College of Art. Catherine won the Best New Illustrator Award at the Booktrust Early Years Awards for Augustus and His Smile and has been awarded the prestigious CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal. Catherine’s other titles for Macmillan include the critically acclaimed Solomon Crocodile and the award-winning Smelly Louie.

 

https://www.panmacmillan.com.au/9781509843589/

 

 

My View:

This must be the best rhyming children book I have come across (yes its prose really does rhyme, and rhyme well, not awkwardly as some children’s books do).  The story has a beautiful message; read out loud, enjoy the language, the rhythm and as you turn the pages experience the delightful art. I am in awe of the illustrations.

 

A gorgeous book.

 

 

My Favourite Meal

Do you have a dish that you always order when you go out for a meal? I do.  The region I live is famous for  its cafes and restaurants that use locally sourced,  fresh, organic produce, whenever possible.

My favourite meal to eat out is Crab Linguine. Let me share with you a recipe from “The Dirty Dishes” by Isaac Carew (Bluebird: Pam Macmillan Australia) which will allow you to make this restaurant quality meal in your own kitchen. It’s fast, it’s easy!  I may never need to go out for a meal again.

‘The Dirty Dishes: 100 Fast and Delicious Recipes by Isaac Carew,’ Published by Bluebird, RRP $39.

Crab linguine
Crab is quite an underused ingredient. I think a lot of people try brown crab meat first and don’t like it, or find a whole crab a daunting challenge. But it’s actually very easy to cook and the combination of crab and chilli creates a clean-tasting but fiery dish. I nearly always choose linguine over spaghetti – sauces cling to linguine easily and you get more from every mouthful.” pps. 86/87

serves 4

sea salt
olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
½ medium red chilli, sliced
1 sprig of thyme, leaves only
100ml white wine
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
360g linguine
100g white crab meat
1 tbsp mascarpone
juice of ½ lemon
a few chives, finely chopped, to serve

Whack a saucepan of salted water on to boil. In the meantime, heat a medium frying pan over a low to
medium heat, add a little olive oil and sauté the shallot and garlic until sweet and tender.

Add the chilli to the pan, along with the thyme leaves and cook for a few minutes. Next add the white
wine and cook over a medium heat for another minute or two until the sauce is reduced. Finally add
the chopped tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes.

Chuck the linguine in the salted boiling water and cook until al dente. Retaining 1–1½ ladles of the
pasta water, strain the pasta and set aside.

Add the crab meat and mascarpone to the sauce, then fold the sauce through the pasta, adding the
reserved water. This will give extra gloss to the dish and a deeper taste. Finish with a little drizzle of
olive oil, the lemon juice and a sprinkling of chives.

 

 

Review: The Ultimate Animal Counting Book – Jennifer Cossins

The Ultimate Animal Counting Book

The Ultimate Animal Counting Book

Jennifer Cossins

Hachette Australia

Lothian Children’s Books

ISBN: 9780734418852

RRP $29.99

 

Description:

Join CBCA Award-winning author/illustrator Jennifer Cossins (as praised on The Ellen Show) on an expedition through the animal kingdom in the most amazing animal counting book ever – count one to 100 and collect fascinating animal facts along the way.

 

Can you count one blue whale? Probably.

How about 16 lions? Or 44 penguins? Or 100 fairy flies?

 

Join CBCA Award-winner Jennifer Cossins on an expedition through the animal kingdom, counting one to 100 and collecting fascinating animal facts along the way. Discover the colour of a zebra’s skin under its stripes, how a tapir uses its nose as a snorkel when it swims, and that cranes are famous for their dancing!

 

Beautifully illustrated with full-colour pictures of animals great and small, from all over the world – from the familiar wombat and sea turtle to the unusual gerenuk and caracal – THE ULTIMATE ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK is an utter delight.

 

 

My View:

Jennifer Cossins’ animal kingdom books never fail to disappoint; educational, fun, beautifully illustrated with stunning details, this series of children’s books have encouraged and assisted my grandson to learn to count (he can now count to 100 thanks to this latest book), he also has a great knowledge of Australian and other animals, and most importantly the books have fostered a love of reading and being read to.

 

We look forward to the next delightful book in this series.

 

PS – love all the quirky facts that are scattered throughout this book.

 

Guest Review: Without A Doubt – Fleur McDonald

Without A Doubt

Without a Doubt

Fleur McDonald

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760633158

 

Description:

‘The entrance to Nundrew was like any country town Dave had ever been to. He revved the engine of the bike and upped his speed. That should get the attention of a few people as he flew down the main street.’

Detective Dave Burrows had never even heard of Nundrew in Queensland before. He’d certainly never have guessed that this was where he’d be risking his life.

In Barrabine, as Dave’s workload skyrockets, Melinda, Dave’s wife, is unhappy about being left alone so much to raise their eighteen-month-old daughter. It’s not how Dave wants it either, but crimes still have to be investigated – it’s what he joined the force for – and he’s the only one able to do it.

Melinda’s interfering father isn’t helping. He’s never thought that Dave is right for his daughter and he’s not shy about telling Dave what he’s doing wrong. When things come to a head at home, Dave’s policing mate, Spencer, comes up with a plan.

In the most dangerous mission of his life, Dave knows what he’s risking. If he’s found out, he’ll never see Melinda or Bec again. Of that he’s sure.

 

Brenda’s Review:

Detective Dave Burrows was settled into his life in Barrabine in Western Australia with his offsider Spencer having shown him the ropes. He loved the rural lifestyle, helping the locals and keeping law and order. The trouble was, his young wife was unhappy. Melinda hadn’t long had their daughter Bec, and although she was now eighteen months old, Melinda continued to be unsettled and restless about her life. Making it worse was the fact that her family lived in Perth and her father continued to put Dave down, insisting Melinda return to Perth with Bec to live with them. She was torn.

The day Spencer devised a way for Dave to get into the harsh realities of police work – even though it meant a move to Queensland – Dave knew it was the answer; temporarily at least. What he didn’t know was the very real danger he would put himself in. Nundrew was a small rural town in the Queensland outback. The force there was having some trouble – Dave was their answer. But could he find the trouble makers? Or would it be the last – and most dangerous – case he ever worked on?

Without a Doubt is another fabulous romantic suspense – high on the suspense – novel by Aussie author Fleur McDonald. I really enjoy Dave’s character; he’s a normal, down to earth guy, strong, tough and caring. He’s not shy in showing his love for his wife and little daughter, and prepared to do what it takes to fix his family problem. I hope the author doesn’t stop writing Detective Dave Burrows’ story any time soon! Highly recommended. 5 stars.

With thanks to Allen & Unwin for my uncorrected proof ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.

#FridayFreebie: I Love My Mum Because – Petra James and Alissa Dinallo

**Rockbilby is the lucky winner. **

I Love My Mum Because

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia I have one copy of this gorgeous book to give away. Simply check out Pan Macmillan’s  website:  https://www.panmacmillan.com.au/9781760784386/   and in the comments list one other book by this author.

 

**Open to Australian residents only. Entries close 6th April 2019**

 

Good luck.