Review: Exit .45 – Ben Sanders

Exit .45

Ben Sanders

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781761065590

RRP 29.99

Description:

Marshall Grade returns in an action-packed thrillride through the New York underworld.

When a former NYPD colleague is shot dead in front of him, private investigator Marshall Grade discovers there’s far more to the killing than meets the eye.

Ray Vialoux is in trouble. Big trouble. And he needs Marshall Grade’s help.

Reluctantly, Grade agrees to meet. Over dinner in a Brooklyn restaurant, he learns that his former NYPD colleague owes money – a lot of money – to the wrong people. But the conversation is cut short by gunfire, and suddenly Ray is lying dead on the restaurant floor.

As Marshall investigates the circumstances leading up to the murder, tracking down the drug dealers, bag men, bent cops and mob players within Ray’s orbit, it becomes clear there’s far more to the killing than a gambling debt. Just who is responsible for Vialoux’s death . . . and why? What secrets are his family hiding? And can Marshall find the answers before his own history marks him as the prime suspect?

‘It’s easy to see what the fuss is about. Sanders’ prose is sharper than a switchblade . . . It’s like Raymond Chandler, Lee Child and Elmore Leonard rolled into one.’ – Sydney Morning Herald on American Blood

My View:

If you are a fan of crime fiction, if you love a great procedural, if you turn over the last page and sigh and mutter “oh…”under your breath in disappointment that you have reached the end of an excellent, engaging, tension packed read, then this book is for you 🙂

5 stars. Encore.

Lego Building Site/Lego Fire Station – Lego Books

Macmillan Children’s Books

RRP $9.99 each

Description: Lego Building Site

The LEGO® City builders need your help! Little LEGO® fans can bring the building site to life as they push, pull and slide the tabs in this cool board book.

Make the LEGO® bricks move – tip your bricks out of the dumper trucks, lift them up and put them down with your crane and then slide the scene-changing mechanism to see what you have built – all in a day’s work!

Helps budding builders to:
– enhance motor skills
– develop hand-eye coordination
– play as they read
– be imaginative and creative

LEGO® City. Building Site is a great gift for toddlers with inquisitive fingers and minds. Add to the collection and bring more of the LEGO City to life with LEGO® City. Fire Station.

Description: Fire Station

The Fire Chief and her crew need your help! Young LEGO® fans can bring the fire station to life as they push, pull and slide the tabs in this cool board book.

Open the fire station doors, make the helicopter take off and then slide the scene-changing mechanism to drive off in the fire engine – all in a day’s work for brave little heroes!

Helps budding firefighters to:
– enhance motor skills
– develop hand-eye coordination
– play as they read
– be imaginative and creative

LEGO® City Fire Station is a great gift for toddlers with inquisitive fingers and minds. Add to the collection and bring more of the LEGO City to life with LEGO® City Building Site.

My View:

I love board books, they are great for little hands ( and mouths 🙂 ) to hold, to touch and these with the push, pull, slide features make for reads that will grow with your young child. Read to them, let them play with, let them push, pull, slide….these are a great tactile and learning experience for growing minds.

Review: The Bumper Treehouse of Fun Book – Andy Griffiths, Jill Griffiths, Terry Denton

The Bumper Treehouse of Fun

Andy Griffiths, Jill Griffiths & Terry Denton

Pan Australia

ISBN:9781760988890

RRP $19.99

Description:

The Bumper Treehouse Fun Book is packed with over 300 pages of treehouse-inspired fun!

With the FUNNEST activities from the Treehouse Fun Books and a whole heap of brand new ones, there are pictures to draw, stories to write, codes to crack, sudokus to solve, colour-ins, dot-to-dots, mazes, crosswords, word searches, spot-the-differences and some activities that we don’t even have a name for!

So, what are you waiting for?

Grab a pen, pencil, crayon or spooncil and come on in!

My View:

The perfect gift for a child you know – word searches, colouring in, spot the differences, decode the message, dot to dots – this makes a great gift to take on holidays or for school holiday entertainment – its bound to keep any child happily engaged for hours.

Review – The Banksia House Breakout- James Roxburgh

The Banksia House Breakout

James Roxburgh

Ventura Press

ISBN: 9781920727857

Description:

When Ruth Morris is moved into Banksia House by her workaholic son Michael, she is eighty-one years young, mourning her loss of independence, and missing her best friend Gladys terribly.

So when she learns Gladys is dying a state over in Brisbane, Ruth is determined to say goodbye. Enlisting the help of her fellow residents, Ruth makes a daring departure from Banksia House alongside renowned escape-artist Keith, and her formidable new friend Beryl.

The journey from Sydney is far from straightforward, featuring grimy hotels, hitchhiking, and a mild case of grand theft. This unlikely trio finds themselves on the trip of a lifetime, where new connections blossom amidst the chaos. But the clock is ticking and Gladys awaits – will they make it across the border in time?

In this joyous and captivating read, debut author James Roxburgh delivers a heart-warming tale that will have you cheering for Ruth from beginning to end.

My View:

This is a standout debut novel. Character based – there will b e some you will love and some you are glad to see them get their “just desserts” 🙂 Perhaps this book could be best described as a “coming of old age” novel; nursing homes, dementia, cancer, elder abuse, power shifts in relationships….adventure, trying new things, new relationships, helping others…its all here.

A poignant start that might resonate with the baby boomer generation (now looking at the health/housing situation of their aging parents) the book then offers adventures with hilarity, compassion and a tinge of sadness. The overarching theme I think is “live in the present, not the past, not the future” and that relationships matter.

A great read.

Blueberry Thyme Marble Rolls: Brave New Meal – Bad Manners

Brave New Meal by Bad Manners, Hachette Australia, RRP $45.00, Out Now

1 cup almond or oat milk, warm but not hot

1 envelope dry yeast (2. teaspoons)

2 tablespoons sugar

6 tablespoons nondairy butter, at room temperature, or olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour

⅓ cup Blueberry-Thyme Preserves

(page 190) or your favorite jam

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme— optional, but it’s in the title for a *** reason

Method

1 In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (or a big bowl if you’re doing this ** by hand), mix together the warm milk, yeast, and sugar and let it sit for a couple of minutes to make sure your yeast is still alive. It will start looking less like individual granules and will start to swell up a little, float, and look kinda like pond scum. If your milk was too hot or the yeast is old as hell, this won’t happen and you should just start over with new yeast and milk. There’s no fixing that.

2 Once we know all your s** is alive and well, add 4 tablespoons of the butter, the salt, and 1 cup of the flour. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds to get that flour worked in. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then add the remaining 2 cups flour. Beat on medium speed until a smooth dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 2 minutes. If you’re doing this by hand, use a large spoon or rubber spatula. It’s not hard, just a bit of an arm workout.

3 Once a ball of dough has come together, you need to knead **. Either keep the dough in the mixer and beat with a dough hook on medium-high for an additional 5 minutes or knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 5 to 8 minutes.

4 Once you’ve got a smooth ball of dough going, lightly grease a large bowl with some oil and put the dough ball in there, rubbing it around so it’s coated in a little oil, too. Cover the bowl with a small kitchen towel or some plastic wrap and stick it in a warmish, non breezy place to rise. It’s gonna get super big, puffy, and double in size, so make sure you picked the right bowl. Depending on how warm your spot is this could take anywhere from 45 minutes to 1. hours.

5 Grease a 9 × 13-inch baking pan or two 9-inch square or round baking pans and line the bottoms with parchment. Punch the dough down to release the air and place it on a well-floured surface. Roll it out until you have a 10 × 15-inch rectangle, a little bigger than a piece of paper. Cut that rectangle in half crosswise and spread a thin layer of jam all over one half. Now cover that shit up with the other half of the dough, leaving you with a 5 × 15-inch rectangle of dough with a preserve filling. Now cut that dough lengthwise into 4 strips and cut each of those strips crosswise into thirds, leaving you with 12 strips of dough 5 inches long and about 1. inches wide. 6 To get the marble shape, grab a preserve-filled strip and hold each end in a different hand. Twist the dough twice and then make a U with the strip. Fold the left strip over the right and then stuff the end of the right strip over the left and through the center of the small circle you just made. Tuck the other end underneath and you should get something looking like a little marbled knot. It’s just like a short, single knot on a shoelace with the ends tucked in and under. Don’t overthink this part.

Place these in the baking pan(s) with at least 1 inch between them because these f** expand. Once you’re done, cover the pan(s), and let rise again until they’re all puffy and looking like rolls, another 30 to 45 minutes.

7 Warm up oven to 350 F or 175 C

8 Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Brush the rolls with some of the melted butter and sprinkle with the thyme. Bake until golden brown on top, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan(s) front to back halfway through. When they are ready, pull them out and brush them with a little more butter. Let them cool for a few minutes before serving. To store, cover the rolls and store at room temperature for 2 to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Guest Review: Canticle Creek – Adrian Hyland

Canticle Creek

Adrian Hyland

Ultimo Press

ISBN: 9781761150036

Description:

When Adam Lawson’s wrecked car is found a kilometre from Daisy Baker’s body, the whole town assumes it’s an open and shut case. But Jesse Redpath isn’t from Canticle Creek. Where she comes from, the truth often hides in plain sight, but only if you know where to look.

When Jesse starts to ask awkward questions, she uncovers a town full of contradictions and a cast of characters with dark pasts, secrets to hide and even more to lose.

As the temperature soars, and the ground bakes, the wilderness surrounding Canticle Creek becomes a powderkeg waiting to explode.

All it needs is one spark.

Brenda’s View:

Jesse Redpath was a police officer in the small town of Kulara in the Northern Territory where she saw more than most and controlled more than most. Since Jesse took over, crime had greatly lessened in the area. When young Adam Lawson went up before the magistrate once again, Jesse persuaded him to allow Adam to live with her father Ben, and work at the local pub, to work his hours out. If he absconded, he would be arrested and thrown in jail. Adam managed quite some time with Ben Redpath – both of them artists and Ben directed Adam, gave him some pointers. But Adam had itchy feet, apologizing to his mentor and taking off down south.

When Jesse heard through her boss that Adam had been found not far from Melbourne in Victoria, she wasn’t prepared to hear he was dead. She also wasn’t prepared to hear he’d murdered a woman and had crashed a stolen car into a tree while fleeing the town. Jesse was certain the Adam she knew wouldn’t have a bar of killing, so she and her dad headed for Melbourne, then a small town about an hour north-east of there, called Canticle Creek, to unofficially look into the deaths.

Canticle Creek was a hot bed of secrets amid the soaring heat of the summer sun. As Jesse made herself known to the local cops, she made some friends – and enemies – while investigating. Possum, a sixteen-year-old young woman who had more smarts than some adults Jesse had met, was intelligent and helpful. But what would they find in the small town of Canticle Creek?

Canticle Creek is the first book in 10 years from Aussie author Adrian Hyland and it was well worth waiting for! A tension filled, suspenseful crime novel set in the ravaging heat of the Northern Territory and Victoria, where bushfires kept the locals on edge, and the heat baked everything in its path. I’ve read each of Mr Hyland’s books and loved them all; Canticle Creek, with its captivating cover, is one I recommend highly.

With thanks to Ultimo Press AU for my ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.

**Love the cover art work. This book has so much appeal**

Review: Game On – Tempting Twenty-Eight – Janet Evanovich

Game On

Janet Evanovich

Simon & Schuster

ISBN: 9781398510135

Description:

Stephanie Plum returns to hunt down a master cyber-criminal operating out of Trenton in the 28th book in the wildly popular series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich.

When Stephanie Plum is woken up in the middle of the night by the sound of footsteps in her apartment, she wishes she didn’t keep her gun in the cookie jar in her kitchen. And when she finds out the intruder is fellow apprehension agent Diesel, six feet of hard muscle and bad attitude whom she hasn’t seen in more than two years, she still thinks the gun might come in handy.

Turns out Diesel and Stephanie are on the trail of the same fugitive: Oswald Wednesday, an international computer hacker as brilliant as he is ruthless. Stephanie may not be the most technologically savvy sleuth, but she more than makes up for that with her dogged determination, her understanding of human nature, and her willingness to do just about anything to bring a fugitive to justice. Unsure if Diesel is her partner or her competition in this case, she’ll need to watch her back every step of the way as she sets the stage to draw Wednesday out from behind his computer and into the real world.

My View:

Very possibly the best book in this wacky and entertaining series! This is escapism at it very best – I love this series and look forward to the new Recovery Agent series that will be published early next year – this one looks like my type of read (at the end of Game on is a sneak peek of the first chapter in the new series).

Game on is a fabulous, light, entertaining, romantic ( this is how I like to read romance 🙂 🙂 🙂 ) slapstick read. Perfect to end this tumultuous year on.

Meat Free Monday: Sticky Tofu with Sweet Sesame Sauce – Brave New Meal -Bad Manners

Brave New Meal by Bad Manners, Hachette Australia, RRP $45.00, Out Now

TOFU

12 ounces extra-firm tofu

2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce

2 tablespoons Maggi Seasoning* (or substitute soy sauce)

2 tablespoons mirin or apple juice

1 teaspoon chili-garlic paste or Sriracha

SWEET SESAME SAUCE

1 tablespoon toasted

sesame oil

1 large clove garlic, minced

. cup rice vinegar

. cup pure maple syrup

. cup tamari or soy sauce

2 tablespoons Cornstarch

1 Wrap the tofu in a clean towel or some paper towels and set something heavy like a pan on top to wick away any moisture. Let it get squashed there for about 10 minutes.

2 While the tofu is pressing, in a small glass, combine the tamari, Maggi, mirin, and chili-garlic paste to make a marinade.

3 When the tofu has released a lot of its water or when 10 minutes has passed, chop it up into cubes about the size of a quarter, place ’em in a bowl, and drown those bitches with the marinade. Let that sit, mixing them around occasionally, for at least 20 minutes and up to 2 hours.

4 When you’re ready to get this shit goin’, make the sesame sauce: Grab a small glass and mix the sesame oil, garlic, vinegar, maple syrup, tamari, and cornstarch, making sure there’s no clumps. Set that aside. That’s that sauce in the photo that made you wanna cook this shit in the first place.

5 **To finish, place the white rice flour in a wide bowl and drain the marinating tofu. Throw the tofu in the rice flour and toss to coat all the lil tofu pieces in the flour.

6 Heat a large skillet over medium heat with the oil. Use a slotted spoon to get the coated tofu out the extra flour and into the hot pan. Toss the tofu around in the pan until all the pieces have a coating of oil. Cook the pieces on as many sides as possible for at least 1 minute or till light golden brown. When most of the tofu looks good, toss in the shallot and ginger and cook for about 30 seconds. Stir the teriyaki sauce around to make sure everything is incorporated, then pour it over the tofu in the hot pan.

7 You’re almost done, so don’t get lost in the sauce now. Cook, stirring frequently, to coat the tofu as the sauce thickens up, 1 to 2 minutes. When the sauce looks nice and thick and all the tofu is coated, remove from the heat.

8 Serve just like this or top it with some cilantro, green onions, or sesame seeds to really flex on the terrible takeout you usually settle for.

**TO FINISH

. cup white rice flour or cornstarch

2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as peanut or safflower

1 shallot, diced

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

Optional garnishes:

Chopped cilantro, chopped green onions, or sesame seeds

Review: The Long Weekend – Fiona Palmer

The Long Weekend

Fiona Palmer

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780173346119

RRP $32.99

Description:

Four perfect strangers. Three days. Can one weekend away change your life? The unputdownable new drama by one of Australia’s most beloved storytellers.

Coming together for a writing workshop with bestselling author Jan Goldstein, four strangers converge upon a luxury forest retreat. But along with their notepads and laptops, each of the participants has brought some emotional baggage.

Beth is a solo parent and busy career woman haunted by a tragic car accident. Simone, the youngest at 26, is a successful Instagram star but she’s hiding behind a facade. Jamie is the only man. He’s a handsome personal trainer – but he looks out of place with a pen in his hand. Finally, Alice is a wife and mum recovering from postnatal depression. She and Jamie soon realise they are not such perfect strangers after all.

Only one thing is for sure: on this creative getaway, nothing will go according to script.

My View:

Character driven narratives are Fiona Palmer’s forte, and this book is a splendid showcase for those skills. Engaging and at times, surprising, this read is perfect to cozy up with over a few nights, meeting and learning about the lives of five strangers. And interesting lives they do have.

As with the other books I have read by this author, there are aspects of the characters lives that the author uses to start conversations regarding contemporary social issues; social media influencers, body/weight /image issues, post natal depression, the loss of a partner…when I start to list the social issues presented here I realise how much has been conveyed in this easy to read format.

So if you love a character driven narrative which discusses contemporary social issues, set in the beautiful south west, then this book is for you. This book has a lot going for it. 🙂

Review: Kangaroo Beach Kids Series: Cheeky Little Media.

Description:

Four young animal friends, Pounce, Gemma, Neville and Frizzy, spend an action-packed summer at a spectacular beach, training as junior cadets with their lifeguard heroes. The first board books in the Kangaroo Beach series are based off two of the most popular show episodes of the kid/s tv series . Readers can also enjoy creative hands on fun too, with the sticker activity book and the colouring book.

The Kangaroo Beach board books are ideal for kids aged 3-6.

My View:

Perfect board and activity books for first readers (ages 3-6 years) that introduce kids to the topics of water safety, water rescue equipment and protecting the beach environment. These colourful, sturdy board books make prefect Christmas gifts ( and the colouring and sticker books are great stocking fillers too) Watch as the characters come to life on the screen at ABC Kids.