Review: Betty – Tiffany McDaniel

**Best reads of 2020 Must reads of 2020**

Tiffany McDaniel who is quickly becoming one of my favourite writers, ever!

Betty
Tiffany McDaniel
W & N :
H
achette Australia
ISBN: 9781474617536

Description:

A stunning, lyrical coming-of-age novel set in the rolling foothills of the Appalachians in which a young girl, with only the compass of her father’s imagination, must navigate racism, sexism, and the dark secrets that will haunt her for the rest of her life.

“A girl comes of age against the knife.”

So begins the story of Betty Carpenter. Born in a bathtub in Arkansas in 1954 to a Cherokee father and white mother, Betty is the sixth of eight siblings. The world they inhabit is one of poverty, racism, abuse, and violence–both from outside the family, and also, devastatingly, from within. After years on the road, searching in vain for a better life, the Carpenters return to their hometown of Breathed, Ohio, in northern Appalachia. There, they move into a sprawling wreck of a farmhouse that local legend says is cursed. The townsfolk decide the Carpenters are cursed, too: “My mother gave birth to eight of us,” Betty tells us in her frank, wry voice. “More than one would die for no good reason in the prizewinning years of their youth. Some blamed God for taking too few. Others accused the Devil of leaving too many.”

But Betty is resilient. Her father’s inventive stories are kindling for the fire of her own imagination and even in the face of tragedy and death, her creativity is irrepressible. Against overwhelming odds, she may be the first member of her family to break the cycle of abuse and trauma–and escape.

 

My View:

I Love Tiffany McDaniel’s writing – I just want to grab a pen an underline or flag words to read again – and I never ever mark my books! Or read again. Just like her debut The Summer That Melted Everything – I love love love the writing, the emotions, the themes, the protagonists, the contemporary issues and that this writing is based on family history.   What a story! Grab the tissues there are so many poignant moments without being melodramatic – in fact melodrama is the opposite of how this book is written.

 

Let me share an example of the scintillating writing:

After dinner Old Woman Slipperwort went to bed. I fell asleep watching TV through the crawling ants and static. I woke a few hours later, needing to pee. I walked quietly toward her bedroom, hoping I could pass through to the bathroom.

Like the night before, I found her naked and sitting on the edge of her bed. Unaware I was there, she continued to massage her legs, their blue -green veins twisting beneath her skin.  I wasn’t as afraid seeing her body this second night. In the folds and creases, I saw her history. Her skin the diary of her soul. All the springs she had watched the flowers bloom. The summers she had stood before the moon and kissed its face. The autumns she had grown wiser. The winter that had frozen the initials of her name. Each wrinkle was a record of this and every hour, minute an second she had lived. The things she had asked God for. The things she had cursed the devil about. In the folds and creases I saw beauty.“p 294 ( The back story to this will make your heart break) I am tearing up revisiting this section. This writer can see into the souls of people and transform that vision in words on the page

 

READ THIS BOOK.

 

Like The Summer That Melted Everything I predict awards for Betty.

Simple Chocolate & Hazelnut Cake: Easy Gluten Free – Helen Tzouganatos

Easy Gluten Free by Helen Tzouganatos

Published by Plum

RRP $39.99,

Photography by Jeremy Simons

 

This cake is so easy to make and so delicious – I think hazelnut meal is my new favourite ingredient. It was our daughters birthday, I made the cake and grandson decorated – with ALL the decorations.  It was delicious.

When I was growing up I loved smearing chocolate hazelnut spread on white bread as an afternoon treat.
Thankfully supermarkets now stock organic dairy-free chocolate hazelnut spreads that are much tastier
and cleaner than the leading brands. Hazelnut meal is fantastic for baking because it has a buttery, nutty
flavour and keeps cakes incredibly moist without the need for added fat. This cake is super quick to whip
up and the two-ingredient chocolate ganache couldn’t be easier.” p258

 

6 eggs
310 g (1 1/3 cups) caster sugar
330 g (3 cups) hazelnut meal (see Note)
2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
pinch of sea salt flakes
chopped hazelnuts, to decorate

GANACHE
150 g (¾ cup) dairy-free chocolate
hazelnut spread
60 ml (¼ cup) coconut cream

Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan-forced). Grease and line a 20 cm
round cake tin with baking paper.
Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar for 3 minutes or until
light and fluffy. Add the hazelnut meal, baking powder and salt and
mix until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 50 minutes or until
a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin for
10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the ganache, place the chocolate hazelnut spread and
coconut cream in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until
smooth and well combined.
Pour the ganache over the cooled cake. Using a spatula, spread it
right to the edge and smooth the surface, allowing a little ganache to
drizzle down the side of the cake. Decorate with chopped hazelnuts,
then cut into slices and serve. Leftover cake will keep in an airtight
container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

NOTE
• You can replace the hazelnut meal with almond meal if you like. It will
have a finer texture and a milder flavour but will be just as delicious.

#FridayFreebie : Easy Gluten Free – Helen Tzouganatos

Easy Gluten Free by Helen Tzouganatos

Published by Plum

RRP $39.99,

Photography by Jeremy Simons

Description:

Discover how easy it is to cook delicious, gluten-free food for the whole family, every night of the week, with Helen Tzouganatos, host of the SBS Food series Loving Gluten Free.

Easy Gluten Free makes cooking for the family simple with more than 100 delicious recipes: enjoy favourites such as pizza, pasta and breads as well as soups, salads, hearty mains and desserts you won’t believe are gluten free!

Inside you’ll also find tips on what to keep in your pantry, on the different gluten-free flours and how to use them, as well as a guide to cooking different grains and seeds.

Recipes include: Easy Bowl & Spoon Gluten-Free Loaf; Leek & Mushroom Tart in Shortcrust Pastry; Cauliflower Pizza 3 Ways; Roasted Miso Pumpkin & Rocket Salad; Greek Horiatiki Salad; Hearty Chicken Drumstick & Vegetable Soup; Smashed Pea & Corn Fritters with Lime Avocado; Slow-cooked Beef Ragu Rigatoni; Best-ever Beef Lasagne; Crispy Salt & Pepper Squid; Sticky Pork Ribs with Tamari Honey Mustard Glaze; Molten Chocolate Puddings; Raw Mango Macadamia Cheesecake and many more.

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Helen Tzouganatos is a television presenter, passionate home cook and recipe developer, specialising in delicious gluten-free food made from scratch. Helen’s gluten-free journey started 12 years ago when she was diagnosed with coeliac disease. She began sharing her passion for simple gluten-free food in 2015 via her blog, http://www.helentzouganatos.com, and today she hosts SBS television show Loving Gluten Free. Helen lives in Sydney with her husband, Spiro, and three children, Vasili, Sofia and Ruby.

 

**I have 5 copies of this amazing cook book to giveaway. To enter, comment  which recipe you would love to make if you had a copy of this book. (Entries open to Australian residents only)  Entries close 4/9/020 winners will be randomly selected **

Easy Bowl and Spoon Gluten Free Loaf: Easy Gluten Free – Helen Tzouganatos

‘Easy Gluten Free by Helen Tzouganatos, Published by Plum, RRP $39.99, Photography by Jeremy Simons’  

 

Gluten Free cooking is my new “everyday”, I love this book!

 

Easy Bowl and Spoon Gluten Free Loaf

MAKES 1 LOAF DF, GF, V
Baking doesn’t get much easier than this. Unlike regular bread, which requires kneading, all you need to
do with this loaf is mix the ingredients in a bowl like a cake batter, then pour into a tin for a light, fluffy
loaf (not dense and heavy, as gluten-free bread can often be). Tapioca is fantastic in gluten-free bread
because it gives it a soft, bouncy texture, and buckwheat injects a nutritious boost of protein, fibre
and antioxidants. Get creative and replace the sesame seeds with chia seeds, poppy seeds, linseeds or
pumpkin seeds, or you could even go seedless. All combinations are delicious.” p29

 

1 teaspoon caster sugar
7 g sachet dried yeast
2 eggs
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil,
plus extra for drizzling
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
210 g (1 3/4 cups) tapioca flour, sifted
210 g (1 3/4 cups) buckwheat flour, sifted
2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
sesame seeds, for sprinkling

Place the sugar, yeast and 300 ml of lukewarm water in a jug and whisk to combine. Leave to stand for 10–15 minutes or until the mixture foams.

Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl, then stir in the olive oil and vinegar.

Combine the flours, salt and xanthan gum in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour the yeast and egg mixtures into the well and mix with a spoon until well combined.

Grease a 20 cm × 10 cm loaf tin with olive oil and sprinkle sesame seeds on the base and sides to create a seeded crust. Spoon the dough into the tin and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm place for about 1 hour or until the dough has almost doubled in size.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C (fan-forced). Drizzle olive oil over the risen dough and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden. Remove the tin from the oven and immediately transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool (this will help the crust stay crisp). Leave to cool for a few hours before slicing.

The loaf will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days or in the fridge for 1 week. Alternatively, slice it and freeze for up to a month. Frozen slices toast well – no thawing required.

TIP
• Don’t slice the bread while it’s still hot as it will be gummy and sticky.
You need to let the steam inside settle for a few hours first.
VARIATION
• Replace the buckwheat flour with tiger nut flour for a slightly sweeter
loaf that is equally nutritious.

#FridayFreebie House of Correction – Nicci French

 

House of Correction 

Nicci French 

Simon & Schuster

Description:

‘So,’ said Mora Piozzi, her lawyer, looking down at her laptop. ‘In brief: you are charged with the murder of Stuart Robert Rees, on December 21st, between the hours of ten-forty in the morning and half-past three o’clock in the afternoon.’

Tabitha is accused of murder. She is in prison awaiting trial.
There is a strong case against her, and she can’t remember what happened on December 21st.
She is alone, frightened and confused.
But somehow, from the confines of her cell, she needs to prove everyone wrong.

House of Correction is beautifully written, clever, shocking, twisty, so believable and utterly compelling. This is another stunningly brilliant novel to relish from Nicci French.

 

 

**Thanks to the generous people at Simon & Schuster  Australia I have one copy of this magnificent read for you to win. ( I finished reading this a couple of days ago – it’s brilliant! ) Australian residents only – answer me this in the comments- who is Nicci French? I will randomly select the winner on the 2nd of September – publication day. **

Review: Torched -Kimberley Starr

Torched

Kimberley Starr

Panterra Press

ISBN: 9780648571537

 

Description:

An explosive, haunting and utterly compelling crime novel about mothers and sons and the ties that bind them.

 

A small Yarra Valley town has been devastated by a bushfire, and Reefton Primary School Principal Phoebe Warton can’t sleep. She’s the single mother of Caleb who is accused of starting the fire – on purpose. Twelve people are dead, students from her school among them; only a monster would cause such carnage. But where was her son that day? No one knows but Caleb, and he’s not talking.

 

Against mounting community rage, Phoebe sets out to clear her son. But every avenue leads back to Caleb. Why did he vanish from his Country Fire Authority shift? Who else was at the abandoned goldmine that day? Why is Caleb refusing to speak?

 

Phoebe will be forced to confront the nature of guilt and redemption, and decide what boundaries she is willing to cross to save the son she loves.

 

 

My View:

The publishing date for this read was changed a few times due to COVID- 19 issues of restrictions and the coincidental major bush fires in Australia- how difficult it must have been to be planning to release a book whose central character is a fatal bush fires and then an actual fire ravishes huge parts of Eastern Australia, devastating for the author and for the areas affected by the fires.

 

And so, I read this book, was fascinated, loved the tension packed pages, loved the family story and if you have ever wondered how it felt to actually be in the mist of a bush fires – well this read is so believable, so visual…I was “there”, smelling the fire, heat burning my nostrils… And then everything halted. The release was postponed and the book languished on my desk, pretty soon covered in various notes, other books to review…

 

This book is fabulous! It is on my list of “best reads of 2020” and I hope it will soon be on yours.

 

Review: The Long Shadow – Anne Buist

The Long Shadow

Anne Buist

Text Publishing

ISBN: 9781922268709

 

Description:

Write down something about yourself, as a mother, that worries you.

 

Psychologist Isabel Harris has come to the outback town of Riley because her husband Dean is assessing the hospital—the hub of the community—with a view to closing it down. Isabel, mostly occupied with her toddler, will run a mother–baby therapy group. But on the first day she gets an anonymous note from one of the mothers:

 

The baby killer is going to strike again. Soon.

 

Then a series of small harassments begins.

 

Is it an attempt to warn Dean off? Or could the threat be serious? A child was murdered in Riley once before.

 

As Isabel discovers more about the mothers in her group, she begins to believe the twenty-five-year-old mystery of a baby’s death may be the key to preventing another tragedy.

 

My View:

What did I love about this read? So much to enjoy if you stop and take the time to absorb the many themes presented in this read; motherhood, what is home, domestic violence, family violence, racism, small town attitudes, family dramas, sins of the past…for me this was a slow burn with so many fascinating aspects. I particularly liked hearing the voice of the protagonist – her many views on life in the town – as a psychologist  dealing with her clients, her insights into their issues are fascinating, as  an individual suffering her own stresses – again interesting, as a “new comer” to town she has a unique perspective.

 

Now I’ve sampled the thoughtful writing in this standalone I am very keen to read the Natalie King series of thrillers that Anne Buist is well known for.

 

 

Review: What Do You Call Your Grandpa? Ashleigh Barton & Martina Heiduezek

What Do You Call Your Grandpa

Ashleigh Burton

Illustrated by Martina Heiduezek

HarperCollins Publishing

ABC Books

ISBN: 9780733340864

RRP$17.99

Ages 4+

 

Description:

An inclusive picture book for grandparents everywhere.

 

In every country around the world are grandpas short and tall.

 

Though they go by different names, we love them one and all.

 

From brilliant new talents Ashleigh Barton and Martina Heiduczek, comes a charming and heart-warming book that celebrates the many different ways we say grandpa.

 

What Do You Call Your Grandpa? is a love letter to grandfathers and families from every corner of the globe.

 

My View:

A celebration of all names for grandpa – with images of traditional elements of the culture being explored in each page, this book is a delight to read with your pre-schooler.  Caregivers, pre-schoolers and teachers alike will find this a useful resource when discussing inclusivity in the global community of contemporary Australia. And a great gift idea for the upcoming (grand) fathers’ days 😊

 

 

 

Review: Pink! – Margaret Wild and Judith Rossell

Pink!

Margaret Wild and Judith Rossell

HarperCollins Children’s Books

ISBN: 9781460757499

RRP$24.99

Ages 2-5 years

 

Description:

Pink was born to stand out Pink is a small dinosaur who stands out from the crowd. Hide-and-seek is her favourite game, but her colour means she’s always the first one to be found. She doesn’t want to be pink anymore … until her difference helps her friends find their way home again.

 

An adorable new picture book about accepting yourself and finding your strengths, from award-winning author Margaret Wild and award-winning illustrator Judith Rossell.

 

My View:

A delightful narrative about difference, acceptance and being you.

 

And who doesn’t love dinosaur stories? This is sure to be a hit with all pre-schoolers and their care givers alike; beautifully illustrated, with a narrative that has lot of discussion to offer re acceptance of who we are, of our strengths, of being different or simply a story about a dinosaur helping her friends, you chose how you navigate this narrative with your pre-schooler.

 

 

Review: The Question of Love – Hugh Mackay

The Question of Love

Hugh Mackay

Macmillan Australia

ISBN: 9781760787752

RRP $32.99

 

Description:

What really goes on in a marriage?

 

Richard and Freya are, on the surface, a perfect couple. He has a thriving architectural practice; she plays the violin like an angel. They live in a beautiful home. They seem respectful and caring of one another.

 

They should be happier than they are.

 

In The Question of Love, Hugh Mackay has constructed a novel of stunning originality – both a sympathetic examination of a marriage and a nuanced exposition of the complexities and contradictions of human love.

 

Starkly observed, beautifully written and intricately plotted, The Question of Love explores the myriad ways we resist the terrible beauty of true intimacy.

 

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Hugh Mackay is a social researcher and bestselling author of 21 books, including What Makes Us Tick, The Good Life and Australia Reimagined. His latest non-fiction book is The Inner Self, published in May 2020 concurrently with his eighth novel, The Question of Love.

 

He has had a 60-year career in social research, and was a weekly newspaper columnist for over 25 years. Among many honorary appointments, he has been deputy chairman of the Australia Council for the Arts, chairman of trustees of Sydney Grammar School, the inaugural chairman of the ACT government’s Community Inclusion Board and an honorary professor at Macquarie, Wollongong and Charles Sturt universities. He is currently a patron of the Asylum Seekers Centre. Hugh is a Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society and the Royal Society of NSW. In recognition of his pioneering work in social research, he has been awarded honorary doctorates by Charles Sturt, Macquarie, NSW, Western Sydney and Wollongong universities. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2015.

 

My View:

A quirky narrative that looks at the minutiae of relationships.

 

This was an interesting “study” in how we tell the truth, how we tell ourselves a version of the truth, how we manage relationships and the “small things” that can make or break a relationship

 

Mackay employs a “ground hog day” type scenario where we explore the same situation with many what ifs and perspectives. By the time you have completed this read you will be demanding the characters sit down together and air their small grievances, air their truths and really listen to one another. Or is it too late? The characters chose to keep silent for many years, is it now to late to undo the damage the silence created?  Read and decide for yourself.