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.

Review: The Telling Time – P J McKay

The Telling Time

P J McKay

Paloko Press

ISBN: 9780473520113

Description:

A captivating debut novel of impossible love and soul-destroying secrets. Two young women, mother and daughter, fight to overcome adversity while transporting the reader from Yugoslavia in the late 1950s, to New Zealand’s “Dally” suburbia, and then back in the late 1980s to a now-splintering Yugoslavia.

WHEN SECRETS DEMAND TO BE TOLD . . .
Two young women, a generation apart, travel to opposite sides of the world on fraught journeys of self-discovery.
1958: Gabrijela yearns to escape the confines of bleak post-war Yugoslavia and her tiny fishing community, but never imagines she will be exiled to New Zealand — a new immigrant sent to housekeep for the mysterious and surly Roko, clutching a secret she dare not reveal.
1989: Luisa, Gabrijela’s daughter, departs on her own covert quest, determined to unpick the family’s past. But not all decisions are equal and amid Yugoslavia’s brewing civil unrest, Luisa’s journey confronts her with culture shocks and dark encounters of her own.

My View:

Pick up this book – you will not regret it -a captivating narrative of migration, culture, feminism and family. This book packs a unexpected punch.

Two stories are slowly unpicked- mother’s and daughter’s, this dual time line is fascinating and intriguing. As a migrant, as a woman, as a daughter, and as a traveler I can relate to so many of the ,elements discussed in this book. Australia in the 1960’s was very similar to New Zealand in this same time period, so much change; migration, the melding of cultures and the early signs of the beginning of the feminist movement.

But the story in Yugoslavia is just as capitating and meaningful.

Sit back and take this arm chair ride to unfamiliar places and discover a landscape so different to your own – physically, economically and politically. This is no cozy read, it delivers a gut wrenching punch.

A great read leaves you wanting more, I wanted to know about the lives of the 2 protagonists.

Chocolate, Pear and Oat Breakfast Tray Bake: Joe’s Family Food – Joe Wicks

CHOCOLATE, PEAR + OAT BREAKFAST TRAYBAKE

SERVES 3 – PREP 5MINS – COOK 20MINS

Ingredients

2 x 410g tins of pear halves (in natural juice), drained

2 small eggs

½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 tbsp cocoa powder

150g Greek or natural yoghurt, plus extra to serve

2 tbsp maple syrup

130g porridge oats

4 tsp sugar-free hazelnut and chocolate spread

handful of chopped, toasted hazelnuts, to serve

Preheat the oven to 220°C (200°C fan/gas mark 7).

Put half the tinned pear halves in a blender along with the eggs, cinnamon, cocoa powder, yoghurt and maple syrup and blend until smooth and combined.

Mix the blended pear mixture with the oats and pour into a small baking dish roughly 23 x 17cm (9 x 6½in). Arrange the remaining pear halves in the dish, pushing them down into the mixture. Dot with the chocolate and hazelnut spread and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until set.

Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the chopped hazelnuts and serve with a dollop of extra yoghurt on the side.

Broccoli Carbonara: Joe’s Family Food – Joe Wicks

BROCCOLI CARBONARA

SERVES 4 – PREP 15MINS – COOK 15MINS

Ingredients

Salt

1 head of broccoli, stalk removed

250g linguine

200g cubed pancetta (you can use either smoked or unsmoked)

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 egg yolks

Freshly ground black pepper

50g parmesan, finely grated, to serve

Bring a large saucepan of generously salted water to the boil over a medium to high heat. Place the trimmed broccoli crown in the pan and cook for 3 minutes, then remove from the pan with a slotted spoon. Leave to steam dry for a minute.

Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions in the same pan you cooked the broccoli in, to save time and washing up.

While the pasta’s cooking, put the broccoli in a food processor and blitz on pulse mode until finely chopped (or chop by hand).

Place a large frying pan over a medium to high heat and cook the pancetta for a few minutes until golden and its fat has been released. Lower the heat a little, add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.

Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the cooking water, and add the pasta to the frying pan. Continue heating and stirring for a minute to allowing the pasta to soak up the flavour of the pancetta and garlic.

Remove the pan from the heat and add some of the reserved pasta water (about three-quarters of a cup) and the egg yolks, and stir to create a creamy sauce. Don’t be tempted to put it back on the heat or you will end up with scrambled eggs – the residual heat will gently cook the egg, creating a lovely glossy sauce. Add a little extra pasta water if it seems too dry.

Stir in the blitzed broccoli and season with plenty of black pepper (you shouldn’t need to add any salt as the pancetta and parmesan are both salty). Sprinkle over the grated parmesan and serve.

INDIAN SPICED CHICKPEA BURGERS WITH CAULIFLOWER RAITA + MANGO CHUTNEY: Joe’s Family Food – Joe Wicks

Joe’s Family Food – Joe Wicks, Bluebird, Macmillan Australia

INDIAN SPICED CHICKPEA BURGERS WITH CAULIFLOWER RAITA + MANGO CHUTNEY

SERVES 4 – PREP 20MINS – COOK 10MINS

Ingredients

1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

3 tsp shop-bought curry paste (korma works well)

grated zest of 1 lemon

10g coriander, stems finely

chopped and leaves roughly chopped

½ red onion, finely chopped

80g breadcrumbs

1 tbsp coconut oil

FOR THE CAULIFLOWER RAITA

300g cauliflower

150g natural yoghurt

juice of ½ lemon

10g mint leaves, finely chopped

salt and pepper

TO SERVE

4 burger buns, toasted

4 tbsp mango chutney

4 lettuce leaves

4 tbsp shop-bought crispy fried onions

To make the burger mixture, place the chickpeas, curry paste, lemon zest and fresh coriander in a food processor and blitz until the mixture comes together. If you don’t have a food processor you can mash the mixture with a fork instead.

Mix the red onion and breadcrumbs into the chickpeas and shape into 4 patties.

To make the raita, shave the raw cauliflower with a mandoline or sharp knife into thin slices and place in a bowl. Mix together the yoghurt in a bowl with the lemon juice and mint, season to taste with salt and pepper and fold into the cauliflower.

Heat the coconut oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, add the burgers and cook for 3–4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown on both sides.

Assemble the burgers by spreading the base of the toasted buns with mango chutney, then topping with the lettuce followed by the chickpea patties. Pile the cauliflower raita on top of each burger and sprinkle with the crispy fried onions. Place the bun lids on top and squash down a little with the palm of your hand to serve.

Guest Review:Deception Creek – Fleur McDonald

Deception Creek

Fleur McDonald

Allen & Unwin

ISBN 9781760878825

Description:
A returned criminal, a cult-like family and cybercrime all clash against the backdrop of the Flinders Ranges in this thrilling new rural suspense novel from the best-selling Voice of the Outback.

Emma Cameron, a recently divorced farmer and a local in Barker, runs Deception Creek, the farm that three generations of her family have owned before her. Every day Emma pushes herself hard on the land, hoping to make ten-year-old memories of a terrible car accident disappear. And now there are more recent nightmares of an ex-husband who refuses to understand how much the farm means to Emma.

When criminal Joel Hammond is released from jail and heads home to Barker, Detective Dave Burrows and his officer Senior Sergeant Jack Higgins are on high alert. Joel has a long and sorry history with many of the townsfolk and they are not keen to see him home to stay.

Not all of the Barker locals want to see Joel run out of town though. Some even harbour doubts about Joel’s conviction. The town finds itself split down the middle, families pitted against each other with devastating outcomes.

Brenda’s View:
When Joel Hammond returned to Barker, to his hometown and the home his parents had left him when they died, he’d known it wouldn’t be easy. But he hadn’t expected the anger and hate directed at him by a prominent family in town. Joel had been convicted of fraud at his job in Adelaide and went to jail for five years, before adding another four years for assault while inside. He was a changed man, but he just wanted the past behind him.

Emma Cameron owned and ran Deception Creek, the property which had been in her family for generations, and she loved her work. She had farm hand Matt working for her and he’d been reliable and a great support with all his farming knowledge over the six years he’d been working on Deception Creek. Emma had been first on scene to a fatal accident nine years prior and still had nightmares from the memories; now with her recent divorce, she wanted to bury herself in her work on the farm and try to forget her worries.

Detective Dave Burrows and Senior Sergeant Jack Higgins both felt there was something dangerous hovering over their town. With Joel back, unhappy residents, strangers in town, Jack and Dave were both on high alert. What would be the outcome of the uneasy atmosphere in Barker? Would Dave and Jack be able to keep the peace?

Deception Creek is another outstanding, tense suspense novel from Aussie author Fleur McDonald which I absolutely loved. The author is up there on my favourites list – I always look forward to her next book! Well crafted characters, and of course my favourites – Dave Burrows and Jack Higgins – lead the way in this phenomenal read which I highly recommend.

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

Guest Review: The Way It is Now – Garry Disher

The Way It Is Now

Garry Disher

Text Publishing

ISBN:9781922458162

Description:

Set in a beach-shack town an hour from Melbourne, The Way It Is Now tells the story of a burnt-out cop named Charlie Deravin.

Charlie is living in his family’s holiday house, on forced leave since he made a mess of things at work.

Things have never been easy for Charlie. Twenty years earlier his mother went missing in the area, believed murdered. His father has always been the main suspect, though her body was never found.

Until now: the foundations are being dug for a new house on a vacant block. The skeletal remains of a child and an adult are found—and Charlie’s past comes crashing in on him.

The Way It Is Now is the enthralling new novel by Garry Disher, one of Australia’s most loved and celebrated crime writers.

Brenda’s View:

Twenty years prior, Charlie Deravin’s mother, Rose, went missing. She and his father were in the middle of a divorce and Charlie and his brother Liam had just evicted a tenant from their mother’s home. But when Rose disappeared, the police blamed Rhys, Charlie’s father. Rhys was an ex-cop and Charlie was a cop on suspension – Charlie had moved back to the little seaside town and was living in the shack his parents had called home before it all went pear-shaped. Charlie had spent a lot of the last twenty years interviewing people and trying to find his mother, ruining his own marriage in the process…

When the news hit the town of the skeletal remains of a child being found on a vacant block, and then underneath the child, the remains of an adult, Charlie was sure it would be his mother. He was positive he knew the identity of the child as well. The police homicide department was soon on the scene, opening the case once again and interviewing all those who were interviewed twenty years prior. Rhys and his second wife, Fay, were overseas cruising and wouldn’t be home any time soon. But still Rhys was a suspect. What would be the outcome for Charlie and his family as this cold case once again came to life?

The Way it is Now is a standalone novel by Australia’s master crime writer Garry Disher, and it was outstanding. A relaxed but twisty, tension filled story of a family and their ongoing grief, the divisions throughout the family and the grievances which were the result of what happened, made for an excellent crime novel which I highly recommend.

With thanks to Text Publishing for my ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.