Guest Review: At The End of the Day – Liz Byrski

At the End of the Day

Liz Byrski

Macmillan Australia

ISBN: 9781760987893

Pam’s View:

I’ve been a fan of Liz Byrski’s work for many years and her 11th fiction book At The End Of The Day doesn’t disappoint. Her ability to create believable and relatable characters shines through once again.

The main characters are of an age rarely highlighted in fiction, if seen at all this older age group is generally in a minor role, offering sage advice or in place as a warning about the ravages of time. Liz Byrski puts them centre stage with their imperfections, realistic concerns and ever present worry of irrelevance.

This character driven, insightful story deals with the nuances of ageing, the gradual physical changes and the mental challenges of self-worth, loneliness and decision-making that accompanies the years.

The wonderful main characters are balanced by a supporting cast of different ages dealing with realistic challenges of their own that are topical and thought provoking.

I found this book thoroughly enjoyable and relatable, and I felt connected in a way that rarely happens through fiction. These people could have been my neighbours.

#FridayFreebie – Nancy Business – R W R McDonald

Description:

Tippy, Uncle Pike and Devon are back for another camp cozy crime mystery from the award-winning author of The Nancys.

It’s been four months since Tippy, Uncle Pike and Devon were together for Christmas. Now back for the first anniversary of Tippy’s father’s death, the Nancys are reformed when Riverstone is rocked by an early morning explosion that kills three people and destroys the town hall.

A new case is born and the Nancys re-form. Is the accused bomber really guilty? Is there a second bomber? And if so, does that mean a threat to destroy Riverstone Bridge is real? And is asparagus a colour? Once again, it is up to the Nancys to go against the flow and ignore police advice to get to the truth.

It’s great to be back in Nancy business again, but this time it’s all different. Uncle Pike and Devon can’t agree on anything and Tippy is learning hard truths about the world and the people she loves the most. Can the Nancys stay together to do their best work and save the town? Or will the killer strike again? When everyone is right, does that make you wrong? And can Tippy ever trust anyone again

** Thanks to the lovely people at Allen & Unwin Australia I have a copy of the new release “Nancy Business” to give away to one lucky Australian resident. Its easy. In the comments simply tell me where this series is set. Giveaway closes 25th June and the winner will be randomly selected from all entrants. Good luck.**

Review: The Nancys – R W R McDonald

The Nancys

R W R McDonald

Allen & Unwin

9781760527334

Description:

Tippy Chan is eleven and lives in a small town in a very quiet part of the world – the place her Uncle Pike escaped from the first chance he got as a teenager. Now Pike is back with his new boyfriend Devon to look after Tippy while her mums on a cruise.

Tippy is in love with her uncle’s old Nancy Drew books, especially the early ones where Nancy was sixteen and did whatever she wanted. She wants to be Nancy and is desperate to solve a real mystery. When her teacher’s body is found beside Riverstone’s only traffic light, Tippy’s moment has arrived. She and her minders form The Nancys, a secret amateur detective club.

But what starts as a bonding and sightseeing adventure quickly morphs into something far more dangerous. A wrongful arrest, a close call with the murderer, and an intervention from Tippy’s mum all conspire against The Nancys. But regardless of their own safety, and despite the constant distraction of questionable fashion choices in the town that style forgot, The Nancys know only they can stop the killer from striking again.

The Nancys is gripping and glorious, a heart-warming novel for anyone who’s ever felt they were on the outside looking in. At its heart it is about the family we make and how we must summon the courage to face the truth, no matter what the cost may be.

My View:

This book is …a little bit of everything.  It is a murder/mystery. It is a story about family, love, life. It is humorous and yet the last three quarters of the book are exciting and page turning. It really is a bit of everything woven delicately or riotously (depending on where you are at with the read) into a story about loss and grief.   Loss and grief and the importance of family would be my biggest take away form this read.

The main characters are colourfully drawn, I especially liked the voice of the child narrator Tippy Chan. What more can I say?  It is well written, engaging and I can’t wait for the second book, Nancy Business to reach my doorstep.

Tempeh Red Curry : Doctor’s Kitchen 3-2-1 – Dr Rupy Aujla

Doctors Kitchen 3-2-1

Dr Rupy Aujla

Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9780008395414

RRP $34.99

Tempeh Red Curry

PREP 10 MINUTES/COOK 20 MINUTES

2 tbsp coconut oil

200g tempeh (or firm tofu), broken into 2cm pieces

160g red onion (about 1 medium), thinly sliced

1 tbsp red curry paste (or any curry paste)

50g piece of root ginger (about 5cm), grated

160g mangetout or sugar snap peas

160g asparagus spears, roughly chopped

2 tbsp peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)

400g tin coconut milk

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

TO SERVE

juice of 1 lime

20g fresh coriander, chopped

30g unsalted peanuts, chopped

1 Melt half the coconut oil in a large casserole dish over a medium heat, add the tempeh and fry for 3–4 minutes until browned all over.

2 Remove and set aside, then add the onions to the same dish with the rest of the oil and sauté for 3–4 minutes.

3 Add the curry paste and ginger and fry, stirring, for 2 minutes until coloured.

4 Add the mangetout, asparagus, peanut butter and coconut milk, season with salt and pepper and simmer for 7–8 minutes.

5 Return the cooked tempeh to the dish for the last 2 minutes of cooking.

6 Serve with the lime juice and garnish with the chopped coriander and peanuts.

Malaysian-style Kari – Doctor’s Kitchen 3-2-1 – Dr Rupy Aujla

Doctor’s Kitchen 3-2-1

Dr Rupy Aujla

Imprint: HarperCollins

ISBN: 9780008395414

RRP: $34.99

“There is one lentil dish I find myself craving more than any other, and it’s this one. The umami blend of soy and fish sauces ripples through the sharp ginger and aromatics of cinnamon and star anise. This is a pleasure to cook and addictive to eat.”

Malaysian-style Kari

PREP 10 MINUTES/COOK 45–50 MINUTES

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp brown mustard seeds

1 cinnamon stick

1 star anise

120g shallots (about 2), finely chopped

8–10 curry leaves (optional)

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

25g piece of root ginger (about 3cm), grated

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp fish sauce

160g aubergine (about 1 large), cut into 1.5cm chunks

200g ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped

200g dried split yellow lentils, rinsed

400ml boiling water

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

10g fresh coriander leaves, to serve

1 Melt the coconut oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the mustard seeds, cinnamon, star anise, shallots, curry leaves (if using), garlic and ginger and stir for 2–3 minutes until the oil and spices are fragrant.

2 Add the turmeric, soy sauce, fish sauce, aubergine and tomatoes, season and cook for a further 5 minutes before adding the lentils and stirring for another minute.

3 Add the boiling water and simmer for 35–40 minutes until the lentils are soft. Remove from the heat and either stick-blend or mash the mixture with a potato masher to create a lovely, thick dhal.

4 Serve the dhal scattered with the coriander leaves.

Cook’s tips You can use cooked lentils from a tin – reduce the amount of boiling water by two-thirds and the cooking time (once the lentils are added to the aubergine, etc.) to 10 minutes.

Tempeh is a fermented soybean product packed with protein, dietary fibre and vitamins. It originates from Indonesia and has a dense and chewy texture, as opposed to tofu’s silky, smooth texture. I know tempeh isn’t everyone’s favourite ingredient but trust me, it’s because you haven’t experienced it at its best. The flavours in this dish are phenomenal and the texture of tempeh suits this method of cooking.

Chicken Gumbo: Doctor’s Kitchen 3-2-1 – Dr Rupy Aujla

Doctors Kitchen – 3-2-1

3 fruit and veg, 2 servings, 1 pan

Dr Rupy Aujla

Thorsons

Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9780008395414

RRP $34.99

Description:

In his new book, bestselling author and medical doctor Dr Rupy Aujla introduces his simple 3-2-1 formula, making it possible to easily cook healthy meals every day. Following on from his two best selling cook books, he builds on his message that the most important health intervention anyone can make is what you put on your plate.

Containing over 100 recipes that offer a streamlined cooking process whilst ensuring health benefits to optimise wellbeing, 3-2-1 is an easy-to-follow health prescription. This daily dose of fresh ingredients, quality fats, whole grains and plenty of fibre lowers the risk of disease. Guided by scientific evidence, Dr Rupy’s core principles of healthy eating remain the same – keep plant focused, eat lots of fibre, plenty of colourful vegetables and whole foods.

As a busy doctor, Dr Rupy knows that one of the main reasons people choose not to cook at home is lack of time as well as the effort to cook it. Each recipe is cleverly formulated to require only one pan, minimising the cooking process and using as little equipment as possible – the majority only require a knife, chopping board and a cooking dish.

Dr Rupy’s practical and easy-to-use book promises delicious, flavourful dishes that consistently look after our bodies, helping to beat illness by optimising our food choices. This is a prescription to fill yourself, one plate at a time.

The holy trinity of celery, pepper and onion is the hallmark of Southern American cooking and this blend of vegetables with oregano and paprika is the epitome of comfort food. I adore this dish, with its hit of spice and indulgent chicken flavour.” p 202

Chicken Gumbo

PREP 15–20 MINUTES/COOK 25 MINUTES

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

300–350g boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 4), diced into 3cm chunks

160g celery (3–4 stalks), finely diced (reserve the leaves to garnish)

160g deseeded green pepper (about 1 large), finely diced

160g onion (about 1 medium), finely diced

2 garlic cloves, chopped

½ tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp dried oregano

generous pinch of cayenne pepper

1 tbsp tomato purée

1½ tbsp corn flour

1 vegetable stock cube

450ml boiling water

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

15g fresh dill, chopped, to serve

1. Heat half the oil in a casserole dish over a high heat, add the chicken and cook for 4–5 minutes until brown all over. Remove and set aside on a plate.

2. Reduce to a medium heat and add the rest of the oil to the same casserole dish along with the celery, pepper, onions and garlic and fry for 5 minutes.

3. Add the paprika, oregano, cayenne pepper and tomato purée and season. Cook for 1 minute, then return the chicken to the dish.

4. Stir in the corn flour, crumble in the stock cube and add the water to the dish. Cover and simmer for 10–15 minutes until thickened.

5. Remove from the heat and serve the gumbo scattered with the dill.

***Variation If you want to make this veggie, swap the chicken for a tin of kidney beans and some chopped okra.

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.