Post Script: Lie With Me – Sabine Durrant – Guest Reviewer

Bec of Audiobook and Book reviews at Audiothing shares her review of a book we both enjoyed.  Sabine Durrant never fails to deliver a mesmerizing twisty narrative.

Lie With Me

Author: Sabine Durrant
ISBN: 9781473608344
Publication date: 26 Jul 2016
Page count: 352
Imprint: Mulholland Books

Source: Hachette Australia

Publishers Summary
5 STARS
A rich widow. A Greek island paradise. A missing teenage girl…the past comes back to haunt a group of carefree holidaymakers in the new, brilliantly tense psychological thriller
by Sabine Durrant.
 
“The truth is, we all tell lies… take a deep breath and get ready for the most twisty, tense and unsettling book of the summer.
It starts with a lie. The kind we’ve all told – to a former acquaintance we can’t quite place but still, for some reason, feel the need to impress. The story of our life, embellished for the benefit of the happily married lawyer with the kids and the lovely home.
And the next thing you know, you’re having dinner at their house, and accepting an invitation to join them on holiday – swept up in their perfect life, the kind you always dreamed of…
Which turns out to be less than perfect. But by the time you’re trapped and sweating in the relentless Greek sun, burning to escape the tension all around you – by the time you start to realise that, however painful the truth might be, it’s the lies that cause the real damage…
… well, by then, it could just be too late.”
Bec’s View:
This is one of the most intriguing, surprising and unusual tales that I have read in a long, long time; there is no hero, no obvious crime and there are no clearly identified goodies or baddies. Yet the prologue makes it clear that something very, very bad has happened.
The narrator, Paul Morris lives his life with the arrogance and vulgarity of a Hoorah Henry who has never grown up. Despite his humble beginnings, winning a bursary to an elite school and then a Cambridge education allowed him to mix with the more privileged,  the icing on his social climbing cake was his best selling book published during his final year at Cambridge. He once lived the high life, but, not able to repeat his literary success, he maintains the illusion of being a prospering man about town with the help of smoke and mirrors – he tells lies.
He beguiles people with superficial charm, he lies outrageously to fulfil his huge sense of entitlement. He lives off the handouts of others as much as possible and, such is his conceit, he fails to see that his 42 year old self is no longer attractive to those young girls he continues to pursue. 
House sitting for a friend had given him a prestigious address but now even that is coming to an end, the owner was coming home. Paul is faced with the (to him) demeaning prospect of having to go and live with his mother in her very humble home.
He bumps into a fellow Cambridge student, Andrew, who invites him to dinner. Paul accepts, he attends the dinner party and meets Alice. Alice is a middle aged widow with teenaged children and, according to her friends, she is something of a saint. She is a lawyer working on behalf of the underprivileged, she seems to do good everywhere, she even heads the ten year campaign to find out what has happened to Jasmine, a girl who disappeared on the island of Pyros whilst Alice and her friends were staying there in her holiday home. 
Alice has reminded Paul that they had met before, on Pyros, the night that Jasmine went missing. Pauls’ memory of that night are hazy and vague because he was so drunk. He becomes interested in pursuing Alice when he discovers that Phoebe, her teenaged daughter, is soon to leave home. Paul decides to manipulate Alice in to allowing him to eventually move in to her house.
He manages to inveigle Alice in to a relationship and has no scruples about taking advantage of her home and her largesse, all the while concealing from her the truth of his impoverished life and failed career.
Paul manages to get himself included on the annual Pyros holiday along with Andrew and his family, but he can’t afford the same flight, a fact his pride won’t allow him to admit to Alice and so he pretends to have an important meeting with his publisher to cover for his delayed arrival. 
Yes, he is an awful man, selfish and horrible, and yet, now and then the author allows a glimpse of a redeeming factor.
 
This “pre holiday” part of the book does lag a little, but it is the slow burning fuse before the action. Once they are all together on Pyros the tension builds towards an explosive, shocking and totally unexpected ending, one that you will find yourself thinking about long after putting down the book.
This was a truly satisfying read.
Thanks to Hachette Australia for providing a copy of the book in return for an unbiased review.
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Avenues of Dawn – Short Story – AK Alliss

This short piece by AK Alliss maybe become something more…maybe not…I enjoyed this piece as it is.  I hope you do to.

Thanks Adam.

 

Avenues of Dawn

His eyes open hesitantly, unfamiliar sounds laced with some distant memory that he can’t quite recall, that déjà vu feeling at the back of his skull, pressing with urgency. The sounds get louder, a clinking, rhythmic beat that closes distance. His eyes are greeted by a flaking ceiling, the colour of old paper, an errant spider web billowing in a hidden breeze. His stomach feels folded inside out and he wonders for a second if he has been drinking, but instantly dismisses the idea as being inaccurate.

Sitting up, he stares for a moment, at poorly painted bars that grant him a view of a railing and a narrow catwalks, and still, he cannot remember how he got here. A flash in front of his eyes, warm, liquid irises the colour of a summer sea and hair that spirals in infinite repetition replaces his view of the bars, but then is lost to sight. He tries to get back that face but it vanishes as quickly as it appeared, a phantom that does not belong in this place of muted colours and cool barriers.

A man appears, military grade haircut and eyes that are as stern and unforgiving as the sea, a tray held in a gnarled hand that could as easily be carved from wood. The man studies him and grunts, sniffing in his inspection before tapping the bars once with a nightstick, producing the same sound that has awoken him from his slumber. He moves as if he will tap the bars once more but appears to decide against it, hanging the nightstick from a loop on a broad leather belt. The jailer replaces the nightstick with a ring of keys, reaching forward and unlocking a small panel inset between the bars, just wide enough to permit the tray.

The tray is passed between the bars and he can see now that he is being offered food, if that definition could apply to the assortment of green and grey smears held in small compartments on the tray. A flimsy plastic fork, edges rounded, sits in the mushed food and is nearly knocked from the tray as it passes through the gap. The guard holds the tray through the gap and he blearily realises that he is supposed to take it. He nods once and the guard ignores him, releasing the nothing food into his grip, rehanging the keys from their clip and reacquiring the nightstick.

He gives one more tap with the long, solid looking piece of steel, the sound more of a bang than the tap of previously, before moving on to the next cell. As he departs, he begins whistling a tune, and he recognises it as something by the Rolling Stones.

Paint it Black.

That collapsing feeling wells up unexpectedly and he swears that he can smell hot coffee, as if from a great distance. He squints as sweat coats his forehead and runs into his eyes, swiping furiously at them without managing to clear them of the sting. He hears a woman’s voice and he knows at once that it belongs to the face that flashed across his mind just prior to the guard arriving.

Caleb.

The tray in his hands twists as if it is made of nothing more substantial than an elastic band and he feels at once as if his body is doing the same. He is all angles and planes of uncertainty and his legs collapse, the solid green of the concrete floor rushing towards him. The guard’s whistling draws away, faster than a speeding vehicle and the concrete smashes into his face, only to be replaced by the smell of loam and spring. The whistle reaches a piercing shriek and moulds itself into the call of a bird, somewhere high overhead, it’s cry broken by a woman’s, warm and sultry, low of timbre. And yet, he can still hear the Stones singing about a red door that they want to have painted black, although this time its sound is blurred and buzzing, produced by a small radio next to him.

“Caleb, where were you?”

Caleb feels her thighs, held close together beneath the bird’s nest of his hair, bright and penetrating sunlight hurting his eyes as he opens them. She is there above him, her face occluded by the sun above her, making her features become lost, a silhouette that he reaches towards. She laughs and tilts her head up and he knows now why he doesn’t want to remember this moment, to be here with her. Pain fills him as he gropes internally for a reply, settling on something that feels as ominous as the moment he has just returned from.

“Somewhere you weren’t.” is the only answer he can give her.

 

(c) AK Alliss 2016

Post Script: I Don’t Know What To Call My Cat – Simon Philip and Ella Bailey

i-dont-know-what-to-call-my-cat

I Don’t Know What to Call My Cat

Simon Philip and Ella Bailey

Simon & Schuster Australia

ISBN: 9781471124129

 

Description:

When a cat unexpectedly arrives at her house, a little girl takes him in and tries to find the perfect name. Kitty? Rambo? Mr. Maestro? None of these is quite right. Cat owning is harder than she imagined, and then the cat disappears! Good thing her next pet arrives so unexpectedly—and he’s easy to name, even if he is a bit naughty. But when Steve the Gorilla proves to be much too mischievous to be a pet, the missing, nameless cat just might turn out to be a hero!

 

 

My View:

A really fun read that children will love (and adults will smile as they read it too).

 

Cute, colourful and laugh out loud funny this little story and the images that accompany it are delightful.  This book has a lot to offer the early reader – plenty of locations to spark discussions eg the Vet, the zoo, home, cafes, and activities to discuss. Colour and more colour floods the pages with plenty of opportunities for caregiver/reader and child to enjoy the silliness. A delight to read and share.

 

Pumpkin Pie Eclairs: The Great Australian Bake Off companion – BBC Worldwide

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Extract from The Great Australian Bake Off Companion (Hachette Australia, November 2016)

Pumpkin Pie Eclairs

p152-pumpkin-pie-eclairs

For the éclairs

175g unsalted butter, at room temperature

200g whole milk

5g salt

10g sugar

225g cake flour

300g eggs

 

For the pumpkin mousse

500g Kent pumpkin

320g whipping cream

90g caster sugar

12g gelatine sheets, silver grade

180g egg yolks

120g white sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon freshly grated whole nutmeg

½ teaspoon vanilla paste

 

For the caramel chocolate décor

250g caramel chocolate melts

10g cocoa butter

 

For the pepita praline crumb

100g white sugar

20g pepitas

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 165°C and place a shallow pan at the bottom. Line two baking trays with silicone baking mats. Bring 200ml water, the butter, milk, salt and sugar to the boil. Meanwhile, sift the flour and reserve. When the liquid comes to the boil, remove from the heat and quickly stir in the flour all at once. Return to the heat and continue to cook, stirring continuously for a couple of minutes or until the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the pot. Put the hot mixture into a stand mixer with a beater attachment and mix for a minute or two to release steam and cool slightly. Gradually add the eggs while mixing on medium speed until smooth and glossy. Add a little more egg if required to reach the correct consistency.
  2. Put the pastry mixture into a large heatproof piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle. Pipe 15cm lengths onto the prepared baking sheets. You should have enough batter for eight per sheet. Using a wet finger, dab any peaks of pastry. Bake for 40 minutes with a little boiling water poured into the preheated pan at the bottom of the oven.
  3. When cooked, remove from the oven and slit each éclair with a bread knife and open out to expose doughy middles. Return to the oven for another 10–15 minutes to completely dry out. Remove and cool on wire racks for 10 minutes then place in the refrigerator until required for assembly.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180°C. To make the pumpkin mousse, remove seeds and skin from the pumpkin and slice into 1cm thick pieces. Arrange the pumpkin on a lightly greased tray and bake for 20—25 minutes or until soft. Meanwhile, whip the cream with the caster sugar until soft peaks form and reserve in the refrigerator. Bloom the gelatine sheets in iced water.
  5. Make a pâte à bombe by whisking the egg yolks and 120g white sugar in a bowl over a hot water bath until thick and frothy. Remove from the heat.
  6. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and blitz with a stick blender. Sieve to obtain 250g puree. Remove the gelatine sheets from the cold water and squeeze out excess water. Mix the gelatine with about 50g puree in a small glass bowl and microwave for 20 seconds to melt the gelatine, then stir.
  7. Whisk the remaining pumpkin, spices and vanilla paste into the pâte à bombe in a stand mixer then add the gelatine mix. Transfer the mixture to a shallow dish to cool quickly in the refrigerator. The mixture should be approx. 20°C. Stir a small amount of reserved whipped cream into the cooled pumpkin mix to loosen then add the remainder, folding through. Be sure to add the cream before the mix sets. Place in the refrigerator to firm up until ready to assemble
  8. For the pepita praline crumb, heat a small saucepan over medium–high heat. Add 10ml water and sugar. Cook to a light caramel, rolling the syrup around the saucepan to ensure it cooks evenly. Add the pepitas and stir. Pour onto a silicone mat to cool. When cool, break up into pieces, put into a heavy plastic bag and smash with a meat mallet to create a coarse crumb. Reserve for assembly.
  9. To make the caramel chocolate décor, place the chocolate melts in a microwave proof bowl and cook at a low power for about 3 minutes or until just melted (approx. 46°C). Allow to cool to about 34°C before proceeding. Mix in the cocoa butter and stir until fully combined. Let cool to 30°C, stir thoroughly and pour into a silicone piping bag.
  10. To assemble the pumpkin pie éclairs, fill a large piping bag fitted with large star nozzle with pumpkin mousse. Fill the éclairs with the pumpkin mousse. Sprinkle pepita praline crumb over the top of the mousse. Finish the éclairs with thin stripes of chocolate.

 

Dr David Unwin’s Quick Bacon and Broccoli Fry-Up: The 8 Week Blood Sugar Diet Recipe Book – Dr Calre Bailey and Dr Sarah Schenker

8-week-blood-sugar-diet-recipe-bookThe 8 Week Blood Sugar Diet Recipe Book

By Dr Clare Bailey with Dr Sarah Schenker, foreword by Dr Michael Mosley

 

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Dr David Unwin’s Quick Bacon and Broccoli Fry-Up

“A delicious, easy lunch, kindly sent to us by the inspirational GP Dr David Unwin, who has been championing the low-carb, higher-fat approach to eating for some years. He has helped many of his patients lose weight, improve their blood sugars and reverse their diabetes; and was doing this at a time when people didn’t believe it was possible.” p. 53

 

Serves 1

3 rashers of bacon, diced

1 tbsp olive oil

100g button mushrooms

200g broccoli, roughly chopped, or leeks, sliced

20g cheese, grated

  • CALORIES 430
  • PROTEIN 29G
  • FAT 33G
  • FIBRE 6G
  • CARBS 4G

 

Fry the bacon in the olive oil, add the mushrooms and then the broccoli and cook until everything has softened and melded together. Add some black pepper and sprinkle on the grated cheese, and tuck in. (Even better, if you have time: place the mixture in an oven dish under the grill until it’s golden brown on top.)

 

Tip: you can replace the bacon with either 60g haloumi, fried first like the bacon, or 80g peppered hot smoked rainbow trout, which should be added at the end to the softened veg mixture.

 

 

Hot Smoked Trout and Mushroom Frittata: The 8 Week Blood Sugar Diet Recipe Book- Dr Clare Bailey and Dr Sarah Schenker

8-week-blood-sugar-diet-recipe-book

By Dr Clare Bailey with Dr Sarah Schenker, foreword by Dr Michael Mosley

 

Hot Smoked Trout and Mushroom Frittata

Serves 2

3 eggs

100g cottage cheese

25g Parmesan, grated

½ tbsp olive oil

50g mushrooms, sliced 2 spring onions, chopped

2 hot smoked rainbow trout fillets, flaked

2 large handfuls of baby spinach, chopped

½-1 tsp chilli flakes, (optional)

  • CALORIES 380
  • PROTEIN 27G
  • FAT 29G
  • FIBRE 1G
  • CARBS 2G

Preheat the grill to high. Whisk the eggs in a bowl together with the cottage cheese and the Parmesan. Season with a pinch of salt and plenty of black pepper and set to one side.

 

Heat the oil in an ovenproof frying pan or omelette pan. Fry the mushrooms for 3-4 minutes, then add the spring onions and flaked trout and cook for another 2 minutes.

 

Stir in the spinach and cook it until it has just wilted. Make sure the mixture is spread evenly over the pan, then pour over the eggs and a sprinkling of chilli flakes and cook gently for 4-5 minutes on the cooktop.

 

Put the pan under the grill for about 4 minutes, until the eggs have set. Serve warm with a green leafy salad.

 

smoked-mackrel-_-mushroom-frittata

Pear and Brazil Nut Chocolate Brownies: The 8 Week Blood Sugar Diet Recipe Book – Dr Clare Bailey and Dr Sarah Schenker

8-week-blood-sugar-diet-recipe-book

By Dr Clare Bailey with Dr Sarah Schenker, foreword by Dr Michael Mosley

Pear and Brazil Nut Chocolate Brownies

The pear and Brazil nuts give these brownies a lovely subtle flavour. And what’s more, Brazil nuts are an excellent source of minerals, particularly selenium (important for thyroid function and the immune system). Cut the brownies small and freeze any left over. They make a great after-dinner treat.” p. 191

chocolate-brownies_

 

Makes 16

60g pitted dates, finely chopped

60g coconut oil (or unsalted butter, softened), plus extra to grease

3 eggs

100g ground almonds

1 pear, quartered and cored, skin on

140g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

25g Brazil nuts, chopped

Pinch of salt

  • CALORIES 155
  • PROTEIN 3G
  • FAT 12G
  • FIBRE 1G
  • CARBS 10G

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease a 20cm square cake tin. Put the dates in a small saucepan with a splash of water. Cover and gently simmer for 3-5 minutes or until they soften. Allow them to cool, then blend them with the coconut oil in a food processor or with a hand blender. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the eggs, then the ground almonds, and beat until everything is incorporated. Dice the pear into ½cm squares and stir it into the mixture too.

 

Melt the dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over, but not touching, a pan of steaming water (or microwave it on a medium heat for 1-2 minutes). Allow it to cool a bit before stirring it into the brownie mixture. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake it for 15-20 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.

Delicious with a dollop of crème fraîche (adds 90 calories).