5 Star Books to Keep a Look Out For

I just wanted to share some recent 5 star book discoveries that I will be reviewing soon; some have recently been published, some will be published in the next month or so. Some are  by debut authors, some are  by favourites that never disappoint.  I highly recommend these – as I read each one I thought “this is the best book I have read this year,” and then I read THE NEXT AND THOUGHT THE SAME THING. Such talent.

 

The Lying Room

Nicci French

Simon and Schuster

 

Wearing Paper Dresses

Ann Brinsden

Mcmillan Australia

 

 

 

The Other Half of Augusta Hope

Joanna Glen

Harper Collins

 

Every Time He Dies

Tara East

Self Published

ISBN: 9780648581512

#FridayFreebie The Long Call – Ann Cleves

The Long Call

(Two Rivers #1)

Ann Cleeves

Macmillan

ISBN: 9781509889570

RRP $29.99

 

Thanks to the lovely people at Pan Macmillan Australia I have one copy of The Long Call to giveaway; its easy, in the comments  tell me the name of the two rivers that are the location of this series **hint see my review **  

 

This giveaway will be randomly drawn on the 14th of September and is open to Australian residents only. Good luck.

The Gemma Woodstock Trilogy – Sarah Bailey

                                    

Sarah Bailey has written three novels in the Gemma Woodstock Series and I would highly recommend reading this trilogy, one book after the other; it is simply the best way to understand your protagonist, their dilemmas, and their growth and to appreciate the talent of this award winning writer as her writing goes from strength to strength on this journey.

 

The Dark Lake: Book #1

In a suspense thriller to rival Paula Hawkins and Tana French, a detective with secrets of her own hunts the killer of a woman who was the glamorous star of their high school.

 

Rose was lit by the sun, her beautiful face giving nothing away. Even back then, she was a mystery that I wanted to solve.

 

The lead homicide investigator in a rural town, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock is deeply unnerved when a high school classmate is found strangled, her body floating in a lake. And not just any classmate, but Rosalind Ryan, whose beauty and inscrutability exerted a magnetic pull on Smithson High School, first during Rosalind’s student years and then again when she returned to teach drama.

 

As much as Rosalind’s life was a mystery to Gemma when they were students together, her death presents even more of a puzzle. What made Rosalind quit her teaching job in Sydney and return to her hometown? Why did she live in a small, run-down apartment when her father was one of the town’s richest men? And despite her many admirers, did anyone in the town truly know her?

 

Rosalind’s enigmas frustrate and obsess Gemma, who has her own dangerous secrets—an affair with her colleague and past tragedies that may not stay in the past.

 

Into the Night: Book #2

After the shocking murder of a high-profile celebrity, Gemma Woodstock must pull back the layers of a gilded cage to discover who among the victim’s friends and family can be trusted–and who may be the killer.

 

Troubled and brilliant, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock finds herself lost and alone after a recent move to Melbourne, broken hearted by the decisions she’s had to make. Her new workplace is a minefield and Detective Sergeant Nick Fleet, the partner she has been assigned, is uncommunicative and often hostile. When a homeless man is murdered and Gemma is put on the case, she can’t help feeling a connection with the victim and his lonely, isolated existence.

 

Then Sterling Wade, an up-and-coming actor filming his breakout performance in a closed-off city street, is murdered in the middle of an action-packed shot, and Gemma and Nick have to put aside their differences to unravel the mysteries surrounding the actor’s life and death. Who could commit such a brazen crime? Who stands to profit from it? Far too many people, and none of them can be trusted. Gemma can’t imagine a pair of victims with less in common–and yet as Gemma and Fleet soon learn, both men were keeping secrets that may have led to their deaths.

 

With riveting suspense, razor-sharp writing, and a fascinating cast of characters, INTO THE NIGHT proves Sarah Bailey is a major new talent to watch in the world of literary crime fiction.

 

Where the Dead Go: Book #3

Four years after the events of Into the Night, DS Gemma Woodstock is on the trail of a missing girl in a small coastal town.

 

‘Every bit as addictive and suspenseful as The Dark Lake . . . Sarah Bailey’s writing is both keenly insightful and wholly engrossing, weaving intriguing and multi-layered plots combined with complicated and compelling characters.’ The Booktopian

 

A fifteen-year-old girl has gone missing after a party in the middle of the night. The following morning her boyfriend is found brutally murdered in his home. Was the girl responsible for the murder, or is she also a victim of the killer? But who would want two teenagers dead?

 

The aftermath of a personal tragedy finds police detective Gemma Woodstock in the coastal town of Fairhaven with her son Ben in tow. She has begged to be part of a murder investigation so she can bury herself in work rather than taking the time to grieve and figure out how to handle the next stage of her life – she now has serious family responsibilities she can no longer avoid. But Gemma also has ghosts she must lay to rest.

 

Gemma searches for answers, while navigating her son’s grief and trying to overcome the hostility of her new colleagues. As the mystery deepens and old tensions and secrets come to light, Gemma is increasingly haunted by a similar missing person’s case she worked on not long before. A case that ended in tragedy and made her question her instincts as a cop. Can she trust herself again?

 

A riveting thriller by the author of the international bestseller The Dark Lake, winner of both the Ned Kelly Award and the Sisters in Crime Davitt Award for a debut crime novel.

 

 

My View:

This is an award winning series and I am saddened to have reached the end of the trilogy.  Gemma Woodstock is a character that fights injustices and crimes and her personal demons whilst co – parenting and I love this character’s development and am pleased that her journey is one of growth and relative success. I like the ‘warts and all’ depiction of Gemma’s life; a flawed protagonist she certainly is but not a hopeless one, she does grow, mature and accepts responsibility for her actions. It is unusual to see a woman portrayed as honestly as this – with her risk taking behaviour, her fragile state of mental health, her relationship issues, her strength; she is the most unorthodox  female protagonist I think I have come across. The honesty is refreshing.

 

I highly recommend this series.

 

 

 

My Most Anticipated Release of 2019

I so loved Wimmera by Mark Brandi that I have been waiting, waiting for his next release. The Rip has already garnered some wonderful 5 star reviews and I cannot wait to read it. Brandi has a way of writing social driven issues in contemporary settings with more than a hint of mystery that is engaging and evocative.

 

Watch out for this one – released in March.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#MondayMunchies: Stuffed Capsicums -Yummy Easy Quick Around the World -Matt Preston

Yummy Easy Quick Around the World Cover

Yummy Easy Quick Around The World by Matt Preston. Published by Plum (through Pan Macmillan)

p182 GREECE

MAKES: 4 LARGE OR 6 MEDIUM

PREP: 20 MINS

COOKING: 2 HOURS

Stuffing vegetables and rolling stuff in vine leaves. These two techniques take on an important cultural significance
in this particular corner of the world. I didn’t know this when my mum would serve up roasted capsicums that were slightly slumped by the twin assault of roasting and stuffing; I just thought it was a tasty dinner, and the balance of the salty, meaty filling was ‘ace’ with the crimson flesh, its sweetness intensified by the oven.

I fear that the joy of the stuffed capsicum – like that of the baked potato or leeks rolled in ham and baked in a cheese sauce – has been lost to this generation. So let’s bring it back! If it’s going to be a campaign, we need a better hashtag than #getstuffed. Your inspiration is required, so make the dish, photograph it and post it on Insta tagged @mattscravat with your idea of the perfect #hashtag for the campaign.” p. 182
Stuffed capsicum

125 ml (½ cup) extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing and drizzling
1 white onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
400 g lean beef mince
2 medium zucchini, coarsely grated
4 thyme sprigs, leaves stripped
3 teaspoons dried Greek oregano leaves
1 teaspoon dried mint leaves
½ whole nutmeg, finely grated
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons sea salt
lots of freshly ground black pepper
100 g (½ cup) long-grain white rice
1 × 400 g can crushed tomatoes
150 ml chicken or beef stock, plus extra if €needed
1 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
25 large mint leaves, thinly sliced
75 g pine nuts, lightly toasted
4 large or 6 medium red capsicums (look for straight sides with stalks if possible)

Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan-forced. Heat 60 ml (¼ cup) of the oil in a large frying pan over medium–low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, then add the celery and cook, stirring, for 2€minutes or until just soft. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for a further 2 minutes or€until aromatic. Spoon the mixture into a bowl and set aside.

Increase the heat to high. Heat half the remaining oil in the same pan. Add half the beef and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, for 5 minutes or until nicely browned. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with the remaining oil and beef. Return all the beef to the pan and stir in the zucchini, thyme, dried oregano and mint, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute or until well combined.

Stir in the onion mixture, then add the rice, tomatoes and stock and bring to the boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 15€minutes or until the rice has absorbed the liquid and the mixture looks moist but not saucy. You can always add a little more stock if needed. The rice will still have a little
resistance to the bite, but don’t worry as it will continue to soften in the oven. Stir the parsley, mint and pine nuts into the mince mixture. Season again if needed and€remove from the heat.

While the filling is cooking, prepare the capsicums. Use a sharp knife to slice around the top of each capsicum to create a lid. Try to do this neatly as this top will go back on. Carefully hollow out the middle, removing the seeds and membrane with a spoon. Brush the capsicums all over with oil, including the lids. Use a tablespoon to fill the capsicums with the hot mince mixture, but don’t overload them as the filling will expand during baking. Top with the capsicum lids.

Dig out a high-sided ceramic or cast-iron baking dish that will snugly fit the capsicums in€a standing position. Transfer the capsicums to the dish and drizzle with a little extra oil. Cover the dish with baking paper and then with foil (the baking paper stops the capsicums from sticking to the foil) and tightly seal. Bake for 1 hour, then uncover and bake for a further 30 minutes. The capsicums will be soft and nicely browned.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool down a bit. Serve just as they are or with the Greek salad.