Post Script: Ghost Girls – Cath Ferla

“Ghost Girls richly evokes the sights, smells, tastes and sounds of Sydney’s Chinatown, and imagines dark exploitative demands behind closed suburban doors.”

Ghost Girls

Ghost Girls

Cath Ferla

Echo Publishing

ISBN: 9781760401177

 

Description:

‘Get on with things. That was how Wendy had met her death. She’d been hiding something and no one had noticed. Everyone had been too busy getting on with things. Sophie knew this pattern like a favourite tune. Move on, get on. Make a ghost.’

 

Winter in Sydney. The city is brimming with foreign students. Sophie Sandilands takes a job teaching at an English language school. When one of her students leaps to her death it becomes clear that lurking within the psyche of this community is a deep sense of despair and alienation. When it is revealed that the dead woman on the pavement has stolen another’s identity, Sophie is drawn into the mystery.

 

Unable to resist the investigative instincts that run in her blood, Sophie finds herself unravelling a sinister operation that is trawling the foreign student market for its victims. But as Sophie works on tracking down the criminals it becomes evident that someone has knowledge of her and the disappearances in her own past. Will Sophie solve the mystery before she too becomes a ghost?

 

Ghost Girls richly evokes the sights, smells, tastes and sounds of Sydney’s Chinatown, and imagines dark exploitative demands behind closed suburban doors.

 

 

My View:

Ghost Girls richly evokes the sights, smells, tastes and sounds of Sydney’s Chinatown, and imagines dark exploitative demands behind closed suburban doors – AGREE!

 

This was a fantastic read –dark, edgy, evocative, sparsely but succinctly worded, the edges softened with the sharing of rituals – personal, habitual, cultural.

 

The settings – so realistic; I don’t recall reading food and culture as such an essential ingredient for setting the scene in a work of crime fiction before now – what a wonderful device to transport the reader into the middle of this bustling narrative. I could visualise the back street traders, the back streets chaos filled, rubbish trailing out of kitchen waste dumpsters…people massing, the smells, the colours, the food, the people – in China and China Town in Sydney New South Wales- remarkably well written settings!

 

Cath Ferla’s writing speaks of many issues – alienation, prejudice, family expectations, guilt, exploitation and being “the other”, and importantly, draws out attention to the issues surrounding the making and distribution of pornography – pornography hurts all women and children; by the way it shape its consumers attitudes to women, to the way society sees the victims of the trade; pornography violates not only the participants but society in general. I am glad the author made this crime real, made this a personal crime – not something that “happens to the faceless few”, that can be discounted and “reasoned” away from our thoughts, generously Cath Ferla allows the antihero, Justin Lay, to somewhat redeem himself when he has an epiphany and realises that the women/girls in the material he is watching could be someone’s daughter, could be his daughter, are real people.

 

Food, culture, morality, exploitation, crime, a few red herrings, some very diabolical situations and a great female protagonist that you want to know more about- this book has it all! This book packs a heavy punch! A great 5 star debut!

 

Perfect Garden Fry Up – Deliciously Ella Every Day – Ella Woodward

Deliciously Ella Every Day

‘These recipes are from Deliciously Ella Every Day by Ella Woodward, published by Hachette Australia, RRP $29.99.’

THE PERFECT GARDEN FRY-UP

“I think this might be the healthiest breakfast you could have, and it goes ‑ from ‑fridge to plate in less than ten minutes. After a bowlful you’ll feel like a superhero all day! Eating this for breakfast also means that, before you’ve even started your day, you’ve had four great portions of veggies, which is awesome. If I’m not especially hungry I love eating this just as it is, but on hungry mornings or for busy days I add some bread (which is why I’ve put the recipe in this section) and, when I’m feeling like a total goddess, I add sauerkraut on the side for probiotic goodness!” (p.36)

 

DELCIOUSLY ELLA EVERY DAY by Ella Woodward. Hodder & Stoughton Publishers 2016

 

Serves 1

 

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 garlic cloves, crushed

salt and pepper

6 chestnut mushrooms, very finely sliced

10 cherry tomatoes (halved or quartered if large)

juice of 1 lemon

50g spinach

½ avocado

 

Pour the olive oil into a ‑ frying pan and add the cayenne pepper, oregano, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper. Let it heat and develop its fragrance for 2 minutes.

 

Add the mushrooms, tomatoes and half the lemon juice and let everything cook for about 3 minutes, at which point the veg should have softened.

 

Stir in the spinach and let it wilt for another minute or so.

 

Pile the vegetables from the pan on to a plate – or a piece of toast – and slice the avocado on top.

 

Drizzle the remaining lemon juice over the avocado and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper to serve.

 

 

Tweak It

Make this as a weekend brunch for all your friends and family. If they or you eat eggs, then enjoy some poached eggs with it. I do this at home and everyone loves it!

 

Chick Pea and Squash Salad – Deliciously Ella Everyday – Ella Woodward

Deliciously Ella Every Day

‘These recipes are from Deliciously Ella Every Day by Ella Woodward, published by Hachette Australia, RRP $29.99.’

 

CHICKPEA AND SQUASH SALAD

“This may sound simple but – trust me – it’s so much more than it seems. I first made this for a collaboration with a café in London and it was such a hit that I knew I had to share it with you all, too! It is a great simple dinner for one, or you can make a huge bowl of it to serve with friends alongside lots of my Black Bean Burgers.” (p.96)

 

Serves 1

 

For the salad

120g chunk of butternut squash

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs (I use herbes de Provençe)

salt and pepper

olive oil

80g chickpeas, drained and rinsed

½ teaspoon chilli powder

big handful of rocket (30g)

40g sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

 

For the dressing

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar

½ teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon honey

Preheat the oven to 220°C (fan 200°C).

 

Peel the squash, then cut it into small bite-sized pieces. Place on a baking tray with the paprika, mixed herbs, a little salt and olive oil. Bake for about 30 minutes, until tender.

 

Place the chickpeas on a separate baking tray with the chilli powder, toss well to coat and bake for 20 minutes, until they’re firm but not too crunchy.

 

Mix all the dressing ingredients together, seasoning with a bit of salt and lots of pepper.

 

Once the chickpeas and squash have cooked and cooled, mix them with the rocket and sun-dried tomatoes, then pour on the dressing and toss everything together.

 

Tweak It

If you don’t have any squash then try using sweet potato instead, it tastes awesome in this.

 

DELCIOUSLY ELLA EVERY DAY

 

Chocolate Caramel Slices- Deliciously Ella Every Day – Ella Woodward

 

Deliciously Ella Every Day

‘These recipes are from Deliciously Ella Every Day by Ella Woodward,

published by Hachette Australia,

RRP $29.99.’

 CHOCOLATE CARAMEL SLICES

 

“One of the pricier recipes in the book as it’s very nut-heavy, but trust me, it is such a treat. The three layers melt together perfectly like little bites of paradise, with the ideal mix of biscuit, caramel and chocolate, just like a super-healthy, even-more-delicious version of millionaire’s shortbread.” (p.228)

 

Makes about 16

 

For the base

150g almonds

125g pecans

400g medjool dates, pitted

2 tablespoons almond butter

 

For the caramel layer

400g medjool dates, pitted

6 heaped tablespoons almond butter

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon coconut oil

For the chocolate layer

100g cacao butter

1 tablespoon almond butter

150g medjool dates, pitted

2 tablespoons raw cacao powder

2–4 tablespoons maple syrup (depending on how sweet you like it)

 

Start by making the base: simply put the almonds and pecans in a food processor and blend for about 1 minute until a grainy flour forms, then add the dates and almond butter and blend again until the mix becomes nice and sticky. Transfer the mix to the bottom of a baking tin lined with baking parchment (mine is 31 x 21 x 6cm), pushing it down firmly with a spatula. Place the tray in the freezer for 20 minutes.

 

Next make the caramel layer. To do this simply put all the ingredients into the food processor with 120ml of water and blend until smooth and creamy, then pour on to the base layer and put the tray back into the freezer for 30–40 minutes, so it becomes firm enough to pour on the chocolate layer.

 

Finally make the chocolate layer. Place the cacao butter in a saucepan and melt on a low heat with the almond butter. Once they’ve melted, pour into the food processor with the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.

 

After the caramel has become solid, spread the chocolate layer on top, then place the tray back into the freezer and freeze for about 2 hours.

 

Store the whole sheet in the freezer. Take them out and leave at room temperature for 15–20 minutes, to let them warm up a little, then cut them into 16 slices to serve.

 

DELCIOUSLY ELLA EVERY DAY by Ella Woodward. Hodder & Stoughton Publishers 2016

Post Script: Deliciously Ella Everyday – Ella Woodward

Deliciously Ella Every Day

Deliciously Ella Every Day

Ella Woodward

Hachette Australia

Yellow Kite

ISBN: 9781473633162

 

Description:

The new book by the record-breaking bestselling author of Deliciously Ella!

 

 

The Deliciously Ella way of eating isn’t about following a diet, it’s about enjoying delicious, natural food to help you look and feel your best. Luckily, Ella understands that nourishing your body with wholesome ingredients needs to fit in with your existing lifestyle and not feel like something difficult, which is why she has written this book – to help you make the right choice every time and start to glow from the inside out. With Deliciously Ella Every Day, her easy-to-make food will become a natural part of your life.

 

Ella’s much-awaited second book is packed with 100 more of her trademark simple yet tempting plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free recipes. Be inspired by her quick weekday dinners, slow-cook comfort food designed to be shared, amazing colourful salads and incredible food to take with you when you’re on the go. Add to these a selection of easy yet delicious breakfast options and smoothies, an array of sweet treats and a variety of soothing drinks – and this may just be Ella’s best collection yet.

 

Featuring the top ten rules for living the Deliciously Ella way, lists to help you get organised, plus tips and tricks to help you get ahead, this is the cook book you’ve been waiting for to help you get your life and your health on track – with zero hassle.

 

 

My View:

You dont have to be a vegetarian to enjoy Ella Woodward’s recipes – variety is the key to healthy eating and Ella provides us with some colourful, tasty and easy recipes. Plant based eating has never been so simple or delicious.

 

This book is packed with healthy eating recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, snacks, smoothies, biscuits and truffles! As a very plain and boring salad maker, I love the choices this book offers. I don’t know about you but I grew up in an era where a piece of tomato, a limp lettuce leaf and some cucumber = salad; boring, unappealing and dull. This book gives me so many colourful, easy options that the word boring will never be applied to my salad making again! In particular I love the use of legumes and beans mixed into salads – making a tasty side dish or a hearty snack or the basis for a vegetarian meal. The Carrot Beetroot and Sesame Salad is easy and delicious and a favourite (and stores well in fridge for a few days), Chickpea and Squash Salad taste great (these two ingredients work so well together), Wilted Spinach and Black Bean Salad, this warm salad makes a quick vegetarian meal with the addition of quinoa or rice!

 

This book has so much to offer! (And did I mention the Chocolate Caramel Slices – the base made with almonds, pecans, dates and nut butter?)  YUM!

 

 

Post Script: Tumbled Graves – Brenda Chapman

When you turn the last page and are disappointed there is no more – 5 stars!

Cover Tumbled Graves

Tumbled Graves

A Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery

Brenda Chapman

Dundurn

ISBN: 9781459730977

 

Description:

A missing child. A dead mother. Kala Stonechild is about to discover what one betrayal can lead to.

 

When Adele Delaney and her daughter, Violet, go missing, Jacques Rouleau is called upon to investigate. However, struggling with the impending death of his ill ex-wife, he sends Kala Stonechild and Paul Gundersund instead. Stonechild has been trying to adapt to life as her young cousin Dawn’s guardian, and even though Gundersund has offered support, Stonechild is at risk of losing custody.

 

On the second day of the investigation, Adele’s body turns up, dumped on the shoulder of the highway with no sign of her daughter. Her husband, Ivo, denies any involvement with either his wife’s death or their child’s disappearance, but not everyone is convinced. As the investigation unfolds, Stonechild learns that Adele was once entangled with a Montreal biker gang and heads to Quebec to investigate further.

 

As Stonechild and Gundersund juggle personal troubles and a complicated, dangerous case, they find themselves piecing together a chain of disasters leading back to a single betrayal.

 

 

My View:

If you are looking for characters that fully developed, with interesting backgrounds, that do not rely on sex appeal and physical features to get your attention (not that any of the main characters are ugly, physical beauty just isn’t the focus of these books), if you are looking at an adult read full of real people, with plenty of drama but little melodrama, plenty of action without a million dollar special effects budget, with plenty of human interest and exploration of the human psyche, then this book and this series is for you.

 

If you want to  read a crime fiction/mystery that makes  you think, relate, feel, than this book is for you.

 

I love this series. This is a series that relies on the author’s profound ability to tell interesting stories with diverse characters, with an intelligent and thoughtful female protagonist who somehow, through her story, through her words, competencies and actions makes me feel calm and that she is in control and will solves the crimes (how does a character in a book do that?), what more could you want? Stonechild is a brilliant protagonist – I love every word on every page – nothing is superfluous to the needs of the narrative. Tension is embedded in every chapter. A great read. Bring on book four.

 

 

 

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Peter May

Coffin Road

Coffin Road by Peter May ($29.99), published by Hachette Australia.

 

About Peter May:

Peter May’s books have sold several million copies worldwide and have won awards in the UK, the USA, and France. He is the author of:

  • the internationally best-selling Lewis Trilogy set in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland
  • the China Thrillers, featuring Beijing detective Li Yan and American forensic pathologist Margaret Campbell
  • the critically-acclaimed Enzo Files, featuring Scottish forensic scientist Enzo MacLeod, which is set in France
  • several standalone novels including – the multi award-winning Entry Island, Runaway, and his latest, entitled Coffin Road, which sees a return to the Outer Hebrides (January 2016, Quercus UK, Hachette Australia).

 

Peter May was named Scottish Young Journalist of the Year Award when he was twenty one.

 

Television Work

Peter May had a successful career as a television writer, creator, and producer.

One of Scotland’s most prolific and successful television dramatists, he garnered more than 1000 credits in 15 years as scriptwriter and script editor on prime-time British television drama. He is the creator of three major television drama series and presided over two of the highest-rated drama serials in his homeland before quitting television to return to his first love, writing novels.

 

Born and raised in Scotland he lives in France.

  

Let me extend a big Australian welcome to Peter May.

Peter May

 

 

Let’s talk childhood. What aspirations did you have as a child?

 

I knew I wanted to write from the moment I picked up my first pencil. My father was an English teacher and my mother was an avid reader. They taught me to read and write before I went to school, and at the age of four years I wrote my first book. It was only a few pages long but it turned out to be the first in a long line of attempts to write a successful novel. I discovered the evidence of that first foray into writing when many years later I rediscovered the manuscript, if one could call it that, in a dusty box in my parents’ attic when I was clearing out their house. It was called The Little Elf. My mother had shown me how to sew the pages together just like a real book and I had made a cover for it, colouring it red and writing the legend “designed in England and made in Scotland”. I have since scanned all the pages and made a short slideshow with a musical accompaniment which I have put on YouTube for anyone to read. So clearly my aspiration was and always has been to write. Here is a link to my first story: http://youtu.be/XTxOEfwclh0

 

About your writing. How long has the road to becoming a successful writer been for you?

 

The road to success has been a long one. When I left school there was no career path to becoming a writer and so I turned to journalism as a way of making my living by writing. And it was only then that I took the advice that everyone had been offering me for years, which was to write about what I know. So I wrote about a journalist, and that was the first book which I had published, at the age of 25. But even then my course towards becoming a novelist was subverted by a career change which took me into television. Having published my first book, I developed the character and idea for a television series which was taken up by the BBC. I went on then to become a screenwriter and spent most of the next 20 years working in television. It was not until 1996 that I finally quit the world of television to try and make my living writing books. Even then it was nearly 15 years and 12 books later before I had my first major success with “The Blackhouse”, since when I have never looked back.

 

Let’s talk journalism, scripting writing/producing and novel writing. In Australia you are well known for your crime novels, in The UK you are a Richard and Judy superstar, a talented television scriptwriter and producer and a Scottish award winning journalist. Is there nothing word related you can’t do?

 

Ha ha ha, I don’t know about that. But words have always been my stock in trade, they have been my means of expressing myself, not just verbally but visually, using those words to paint pictures for my readers, as well as exploring the human psyche.

 

What do you love about writing?

 

I love that when I am writing I am transported from my desk and my study by the power of the imagination to anywhere in the world that I may choose to go.

 

Who is your favourite author? Do you have a favourite book?

 

I do not have a single favourite author but several who have influenced me over the years, including such writers as Ernest Hemingway, Graham Greene, H.E. Bates and others. My favourite book is probably “The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B” by the Irish-American writer J.P. Donleavy, because it taught me how to break the rules of grammar and freed me to develop my own style of writing.

 

Do you have a favourite band/song? The song, album and video you recorded, Runaway, depicts a major life changing event in your teenage years “also providing the inspiration for the new book which I am currently writing. I have already clocked up 45,000 words as I blog this. And what is the working title of the book? Well, “Runaway” of course!” Has music inspired any of your other books? (And we can we see another video please?)

 

The most influential band during my formative years was, without doubt, The Beatles. They provided the soundtrack to my growing up years. All of my earliest experiences, particularly in affairs of the heart, were related to one Beatles song or another. But I loved much of the music of the 60s and 70s. It was an exciting time, and music was breaking new ground at every turn of the record. My earliest books were all written to the sounds of my favourite bands. But I found, in the end, that music was proving too influential, colouring the mood and content of my writing, and I gave it up and now write in silence. I cannot say that music has influenced any of my books other than “Runaway”, but I still write, play and record music today. Here is an example. The song is called “Big Bad Wolf”, and it tells the story of the initial rejection of my breakthrough book “The Blackhouse”: http://youtu.be/IR1SR9afWSI

 

Tell us more about the eco warrior within you. (My reference is to Coffin Road – bees and science) and I believe the China novels have an eco/conservation theme.

 

I believe that writers have an obligation to address matters of universal importance. Much of my writing in the China Thrillers, and in my latest novel “Coffin Road”, has involved warning of danger in the unfettered exploitation of science for purely financial gain. Many scientific advances such as the development of genetically modified foods or pesticide and herbicide-resistant crops, are sold to us as being beneficial to mankind when very often they are exactly the opposite. “Coffin Road” was motivated by my concern about the effect on bees of a breed of pesticides known as neonicotinoids. Bees are vanishing at an unprecedented rate and their disappearance altogether would be a disaster both for the planet and the human race. Bees are responsible for producing anything up to half of all the foods that we eat, and the link between their demise and the use of these pesticides is now irrefutable. Having thoroughly researched my subject I felt that both the bees and the silent majority of the human race needed a voice, and “Coffin Road”, I hope, has given them that.

 

Let’s talk about the settings of your books. France, China, Canada, Scotland, Hebrides….all so different. What attracted you to these particular settings for you crime novels? Are you also a master of languages? Gaelic? Chinese? French?

 

Ha ha. No. I speak and write in English, I have become relatively fluent in French, but I speak no Chinese or Gaelic. Languages are not my strong suit. As far as settings are concerned I go where my stories take me. I never write about a place I have not been to, so I have travelled widely, and hopefully in my books I take my readers on those same journeys with me.

 

How did you research your books?

 

All my research is conducted in depth, on the Internet, in books, and in journeying to the settings of the various stories. I also enlist the advice of various experts in the different fields about which I am writing in any given book. Being fearless in my research is something I learned as a journalist and now I almost enjoy the process of research more than the actual writing.

 

Are you currently writing a new novel? Where will it be set?

 

I have just finished writing the sixth and final book in the Enzo Files series which is set in France. It will be out next January.

 

If you want to know more about Peter check out his social media sites here: http://about.me/petermayinfo