Guest Review: Amber and Alice – Janette Paul

Amber and Alice

Amber and Alice

Janette Paul

Penguin Random House Australia

ISBN: 9780143783084

 

Description:

Take a hilarious road trip into the Australian outback in this witty romantic comedy, with an enticing family mystery thrown in!

When Amber Jones wakes up in her sister Sage’s speeding car, with no idea how she got there (though the hangover is a clue), all she wants to do is go home. But Sage is convinced a road trip to Alice Springs will finally answer the burning question: who is Amber’s father? Because nine months before Amber’s birth, her late mother Goldie made the same trip . . .

Armed with just a name and Goldie’s diaries, Amber agrees to search for a man she’s never met in one of the world’s biggest deserts.

And that means spending two weeks in a convoy of four-wheel-driving tourists and camping in freezing desert nights. To make matters worse, her fellow travellers hate her and the handsome tour leader Tom thinks she’s an alcoholic.

But slowly the desert starts to reveal its secrets – and Amber must decide which horizon to follow . . .

 

Brenda’s View:

The speeding car, the disorientation, the torn stockings and the bird’s-cage in her mouth had Amber completely confused – where was she, why was she here, and most importantly; why was she with her sister?! Sage wasn’t someone Amber spent a lot of time with; she was the complete opposite to Amber’s meticulous, sensible and organised self – but as the memories gradually returned, she was struck with a horrid slide-show of the previous night…

Sage had “kidnapped” Amber, determining she needed a change in her life and the road trip with a tag-along tour group to Alice Springs was just the thing. But Amber was used to hot showers, her morning coffee from a nearby café and shopping. How would she do camping – in a tent; AND with her sister? But when Sage mentioned Amber’s father – the man she had never met – and the fact that their mother had made the same trip where she’d met him twenty eight years previously, Amber finally and grudgingly agreed…

Nothing seemed to go right for Amber right from when they met up with the tag-along group in the little town of Denman in NSW. Each and every member of the group thought Amber was either crazy, or an alcoholic. And the more Amber tried to get it together, the more it all fell apart. Would their long road trip make things better or worse? Would Amber find her father? And was it possible that she and Sage could be close again?

Amber and Alice is a laugh out loud journey through Central Australia from Sydney to Alice Springs, with towns like Dunedoo, Coober Pedy and Uluru along the way. Aussie author Janette Paul has written a wonderful novel about finding your inner self, and the trouble you can get into along the way. I loved it! I found myself having to smother my laughter quite a number of times – it was such fun! 5 stars! Highly recommended.

With thanks to Penguin Random House AU for my ARC to read and review.

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Happy Release Day Dear Banjo- Sasha Wasley

Have a fabulous release day Sasha Wasley.

Dear Banjo

Synopsis:

They were best friends who were never meant to fall in love – but for one of them, it was already way too late.

Willow ‘Banjo’ Paterson and Tom Forrest were raised on neighbouring cattle stations in the heart of the Kimberley. As young adults, sharing the same life dreams, something came between them that Willow cannot forget. Now ten years have passed since she’s even spoken to Tom.

When her father falls ill, Willow is called home to take over the running of the family property, Paterson Downs. Her vision for a sustainable, organic cattle station is proving hard to achieve. She needs Tom’s help, but is it too late, and all too complicated, to make amends?

Tom’s heartfelt, decade-old letters remain unopened and unmentioned between them, and Willow must find the courage to finally read them. Their tattered pages reveal a love story like no other – and one you’ll never forget.

Dear Banjo is a wildly romantic and utterly captivating story about first love and second chances from an exciting new Australian author.

 

 

Excerpt from Chapter 1

 

Somehow she managed to pack up the entire apartment overnight. On the way to the airport the next morning, Willow got the taxi driver to drop in at Tanya’s place. Her friend was still in her pyjamas when Willow gave her the keys to her apartment and a couple of hundred dollars. Tanya tried to refuse the money but Willow pushed it into her hand.

‘No, Tan, I’ve booked professional cleaners and I need you to pay them for me. Keep whatever’s left over as a thanks. And could you possibly go in and get rid of the boxes I’ve left behind? You can have anything from them or just donate it all to charity. And then if you could just drop the keys off to the real estate agent, I’ll be grateful forever.’

Tanya nodded and her eyes went a little glassy. ‘You’re really going, aren’t you? For good, I mean.’

‘Yeah. Going home at last. I can’t believe I stayed in the city this long.’

Tears spilled down Tanya’s cheeks. ‘I’m going to miss you.’

‘Oh, Tan. You should come visit.’ Willow hugged her. ‘I’ll stay in touch.’

‘It’s not the same,’ Tanya sobbed.

‘I’ll call you in a couple of days, okay?’

Tanya nodded and gave her another tearful hug before letting Willow leave.

Jeez, Willow thought as she ran back to the taxi. Shows of emotion had never been her thing. Okay, she was moving a couple of thousand kilometres away, and she’d miss seeing Tanya at work, but surely it wasn’t worth crying over.

A memory of her sessions with a psychologist surfaced. Willow, you tend to hold people at arm’s length. Why don’t you try letting people in a little more? Willow snapped her attention back to the present, logging into the power company’s website on her phone to cancel her account.

She checked in for her flight and paid an exorbitant amount for her excess baggage before watching it glide away on the conveyer belt – the sum total of her adult life in two large suitcases. No, she remembered. 3700 square kilometres, 6500 head of cattle, a ground­breaking, humane, organic beef operation. That would be the sum total of her adult life.

She settled into her seat and thanked the heavens she’d been placed next to a young fly-in-fly-out type, probably contracted to the Herne River catchment project. He was already plugged into his tablet and watching a show involving zombies, so she wouldn’t have to talk to anyone during the flight. She wanted to write a to-do list. As soon as they were in the air she reached into her bag for a note­pad and her hand met something unfamiliar. Not her notepad.

Tom’s letters.

Willow considered them, her heart rate bumping up all over again. Wouldn’t it almost be an invasion of Tom’s privacy to read them now, so long after he’d intended her to? Maybe those sleeping dogs should just be left to lie?

Yes, she would bin them all – drop them into the roving rubbish bag the next time the steward came around.

But she would be living next door to the Forrests again once she got home. By now, Tom would soon be taking over Quintilla, just as she was about to do with Paterson Downs. Their families were as close as ever. She’d need to resume some kind of relationship with Tom Forrest, no matter how difficult the initial patching up phase would be.

Maybe she could use this three-hour flight from Perth to Mount Clair to read all of Tom’s letters at last. She hadn’t even given the poor guy a chance after looking at the first couple. She’d been so absorbed in her own pain; grappling with the panic she felt every time she thought about what he’d done. Perhaps there had been an apology in one of those letters – an apology she should have acknowledged by now. A retraction of that awful moment when he’d said those words . . .

Tom’s handwriting was scrawled across the front of the topmost envelope – always familiar, no matter how long it had been. Willow took a shaky breath. Seven-thirty in the morning was a little early for a stiff drink, so she requested a coffee and pulled out the first two letters; the ones she’d opened and read ten years earlier.

 

Dear Banjo,

Happy New Year. I guess you’re settled in at the student hall by now. You sure went early. The other kids who got in aren’t leaving until February. I don’t know where you’re staying so I asked Beth to send this on to you. You might have heard I’m probably not going to take up my offer of a place at uni. I’m thinking I’ll defer my course – for now, anyway. Dad’s not fazed. He won’t have to hire extra help this way, not to mention the savings on the tuition fees. Mum’s not overly happy but I keep telling her it’s only for the year. She asks a lot of questions. Not really sure what else to say to you, Banjo. It’s weird without you. Whenever I’m on the quad I turn towards Patersons before I remember you’re not there any more. I keep thinking I’ll see you at the eastern gate, sitting on Rusty, ready for a fenceline race. You knew I’d always beat you but you’d have a go anyway. So, yep. Really weird. You’ve always just been there. I guess it doesn’t quite compute yet. Take care of yourself in the big city, okay?

Tom

P.S. We should probably try to sort this mess out.

 

Buy Links

Dear Banjo is now available in paperback and e-book editions. Visit your local bookstore or department store to pick up a copy. Some purchase links are below or search your favourite outlet.

About the Author

 

Sasha Wasley

Sasha Wasley was born and raised in Perth, Western Australia.

She has completed a PhD in cultural theory and loves nature, Jane Austen and puns.

Sasha is a farming wannabe, with a passion for animals and the land. Although she’s in her forties now, she still wants a pony.

Her debut novel, a young adult paranormal, was published in 2014. Today, she lives and writes in the Swan Valley wine region with her partner and two daughters, surrounded by dogs, cats and chickens.

Sasha writes mystery, paranormal and young adult novels as S.D. Wasley.

 

Follow Sasha

 

Brown Rice Kitchari: The Energy Guide – Dr Libby Weaver

The Energy Guide

 

The Energy Guide by Dr Libby Weaver is published by Macmillan Australia, RRP $39.99

 

Prep ahead:
• Soak rice and dhal
• Chop or grate broccoli
• Remove kernels from corn cob
• Grate zucchini and carrot
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus overnight soaking

 

Brown Rice Kitchari

 

BROWN RICE KITCHARI
Serves:6
1⁄2 cup (110 g) medium-grain brown rice
1⁄2 cup (105 g) split mung dhal (see Glossary)
2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil
1⁄3 cup (80 g) ghee (see Glossary)
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons grated fresh turmeric or 1⁄2 teaspoon ground turmeric (see Glossary)
1 cup (85 g) grated or finely chopped broccoli
1 corn cob, kernels removed (1 cup/200 g)
2 zucchini, grated
2 carrots, grated
1.25 litres boiling water
sea salt
freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
chopped coriander leaves, to serve

Kitchari is considered a food medicine, and this nourishing
meal is very gentle on the digestive system. It is delicious
reheated and can also be served as an accompaniment to
other dishes. Basmati rice can be used instead of the brown
rice and this will reduce the cooking time.”p.197
Wash the rice and dhal, then place in a bowl, cover with cold
water and leave to soak overnight. The next morning, rinse
and drain well.
Melt the coconut oil and half the ghee in a large deep frying
pan over medium heat, add the onion and ginger and cook for
10 minutes or until the onion is soft and golden – don’t rush this step
as the gently cooked onion adds a lovely sweetness to the dish.
Add the seeds and turmeric and cook for 1 minute or until the
seeds start to pop. Add the broccoli, corn, zucchini and carrot
and stir until the vegetables are well coated in the spices.
Stir in the drained rice and dhal, then add the boiling water and
a good pinch of salt. Bring to the boil over high heat and boil for
20 minutes or until tunnels form in the rice and most of the liquid
has been absorbed.

Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook gently for 5 minutes or until the rice is soft and there is no liquid
left in the pan. Stir through the remaining ghee, then finish with a good squeeze
of lemon and a scattering of coriander.

Salmon & Quinoa Fishcakes: The Energy Guide – Dr Libby Weaver

The Energy Guide

The Energy Guide by Dr Libby Weaver is published by Macmillan Australia, RRP $39.99

 

Salmon & Quinoa Fishcakes

Prep ahead:
• Steam sweet potato and salmon
• Cook quinoa
Cooking time:45 minutes
Preparation time: 20 minutes

 

 

Salmon & Quinoa Fishcakes
SALMON & QUINOA FISH CAKES
Serves: 4
300 g sweet potato, peeled and chopped
500 g skinless salmon fillet
½ cup (100 g) tricolour quinoa, rinsed well (see Glossary)
1 cup (120 g) almond meal
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon red curry paste
100 g green beans, trimmed and thinly sliced
4 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded (see Glossary)
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil
salad greens and lime wedges (optional), to serve

Fish cakes are a great healthy staple. These have extra protein
from the quinoa, meaning they’re particularly satiating. Serve
them with additional greens or one of the salad recipes in this
book. The fish cakes can be frozen (cooked or uncooked) in an
airtight container for up to 3 weeks.” p. 148
Steam the sweet potato for 20 minutes or until soft. Remove from
the heat and mash.
Steam the salmon for 10–15 minutes until it flakes easily. Remove
from the heat and flake the salmon, discarding any bones.
Meanwhile, cook half the quinoa in a saucepan of boiling water
for 20 minutes or until soft. Rinse and drain well.
Place the sweet potato, salmon, cooked quinoa, almond meal,
egg, curry paste, beans, kaffi r lime leaves and lime zest and juice
in a bowl and mix well to combine.
Divide the mixture into four portions and form into patties.
Sprinkle both sides of the patties with the remaining quinoa
to lightly coat.
Melt the coconut oil in a large deep frying pan over medium heat
and cook the fi sh cakes (in batches if necessary) for 5 minutes
on each side or until golden and cooked through. Serve the fish
cakes on salad leaves with lime wedges, if you like.

Crunchy Buckwheat Muesli: The Energy Guide – Dr Libby Weaver

The Energy Guide

The Energy Guide by Dr Libby Weaver is published by Macmillan Australia, RRP $39.99

Prep ahead: • Soak buckwheat, almonds and seeds
Cooking time: 50 minutes
Preparation time: 10 minutes, plus overnight soaking

CRUNCHY BUCKWHEAT MUESLI
Serves:6
1 cup (200 g) buckwheat (see Glossary)
1⁄2 cup (80 g) raw almonds, chopped
3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 tablespoons extra virgin
coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon ground ginger
1⁄4 teaspoon ground turmeric (see Glossary)
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (optional)
milk of your choice, to serve
sliced banana and blueberries, to serve

This delicious crunchy muesli uses very little sweetener and
is a nutrient-dense alternative to many packaged breakfast
options on the shelves. The combination of seeds gives it a
wonderful mineral boost. I find many people love it served with
banana and blueberries, but you can use any fruit you like. p.88

Place the buckwheat, almonds and seeds in a medium bowl,
cover with cold water and leave to soak overnight. The next
morning, rinse and drain well.

Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F) and line a baking tray with
baking paper.
Tip the soaked buckwheat mixture into a bowl, add the coconut
oil, spices and syrup, if using, and mix well to coat.

Spread the buckwheat mixture over the prepared tray. Bake
for 50 minutes or until lightly golden and dry. Set aside to cool
completely.

Serve with your choice of milk, topped with sliced banana
and blueberries.

Breakfast_BuckwheatMuesli

Guest Post – Sasha Wasley Talks Wine, Writing and Her New Release

Sasha Wasley

Welcome Sasha Wasley to my blog.

Sasha Wasley was born and raised in Perth, Western Australia.

She has completed a PhD in cultural theory and loves nature, Jane Austen and puns.

Sasha is a farming wannabe, with a passion for animals and the land. Although she’s in her forties now, she still wants a pony.

Her debut novel, a young adult paranormal, was published in 2014. Today, she lives and writes in the Swan Valley wine region with her partner and two daughters, surrounded by dogs, cats and chickens.

Sasha writes mystery, paranormal and young adult novels as S.D. Wasley.

Welcome Sasha.

 

I was caught by your blog’s title and immediately tempted to find a way to match the theme – at the same time as introducing Dear Banjo to your followers. As I love wine, and my book is a love story, I felt it was a great opportunity to talk about … wine and love!
My favourite tipple is a fresh sauvignon blanc, and I love both the Australian and New Zealand varieties. In my book, however, my main characters love red wine. The story is set in Mount Clair, a fictional town in the Kimberley region of WA. It’s hot and humid up there, and I imagine red wine drinkers are in the minority, so this was a nice little trait for Willow and Tom to have in common. Let me share the scene where their love of red wine is particularly relevant. Formerly best friends, the two have experienced a long rift, during which they did not have any contact at all. But they’ve made peace and are friends again in this scene, and Willow and her family visit the neighbouring cattle station for Tom’s birthday barbecue.
From Chapter 14
There was a small bunch of people Willow didn’t know, presum¬ably Tom’s friends from town, sitting in a group. Willow went to say hello to the Forrests. Tom, already cleaning the barbecue, offered her a drink.
‘I’ve brought wine,’ she told him. ‘I just need a glass.’
‘Red?’
‘Of course.’
‘Come with me. I’ve got something special for you to drink tonight.’
She followed him into the house and he took her into the spare room. He bent down to open what looked like a dark cabinet in the corner and she heard the clink of bottles.
‘What’s that? A bar fridge?’
‘A wine fridge. I love reds but you can’t keep them properly in this climate. My wine fridge stores wine at the right temperature.’
He straightened and showed her what was in her hand. She gasped.
‘No way. Henschke Hill of Grace?’
Tom waved the bottle in front of her face, his eyes alight with anticipation. ‘Shall we?’
‘You shouldn’t open this tonight. Wait till your thirtieth.’
‘I’ve got something even more special for my thirtieth.’ He opened the fridge and pulled out another bottle.
‘What the hell?’ She stared at him. ‘Grange? Just how well are you guys doing here?’
‘It’s only one bottle. We don’t have a cellar full. I bought it a cou¬ple of years ago and decided to save it for my thirtieth.’
‘And the Hill of Grace for your twenty-ninth?’
He shrugged. ‘That was more of an impulse decision. But you like red, I like red. Hardly anyone in Mount Clair does. So …’
The corner of his mouth was tugged up in an expectant half-smile. She couldn’t help a little answering enthusiasm. ‘Let’s do it!’ He had the corkscrew in his hand before she’d even finished speak¬ing. ‘Cork,’ she breathed.
‘No screw tops for us!’
‘Where are the glasses?’
He nodded towards a cabinet against the wall and she opened the glass slider to pull out two big, dusty wineglasses. Spotting a pillow on the spare bed, Willow whipped off the pillow case and used it to polish the glasses.
Tom guffawed. ‘Classy.’
‘Resourceful,’ she returned.
He popped the cork and sniffed gingerly. ‘Oh, god. Yes.’
Willow almost bounced on the spot with excitement. ‘Is it good?’
‘Beyond good.’ He poured and handed her one. ‘Check us out, hiding in the spare room to drink the good stuff.’
‘Ours. Ours alone,’ she intoned and he doubled over laughing.
They clinked glasses carefully and sipped, watching each other’s faces. Tom waited for her judgement, although she could see he liked it just from his expression. The wine was beautiful and she sighed with pleasure.
‘Tom. It’s the nectar of the gods.’
‘It’s the aged nectar of the gods,’ he said. He gestured towards his wine fridge. ‘Wait till my thirtieth. It’s just a shame I offered half to another living human,’ he added, narrowing his eyes at her in classic villain style.
‘You’ll be lucky to get half the bottle, sharing with me,’ she said.
He laughed, but those blue eyes were on hers and they seemed a little intense. She sipped again, her body heating up uncomfortably.

 

Henschke

Henschke Cellar Door, SA (pic: Henschke.com.au)

I went to visit the Henschke cellar door in South Australia during a visit to the Barossa region in 2009 and it was such a wonderful experience. Not only is the winery itself the most charming, picturesque, historical spot, surrounded by green valleys, vineyards, and those amazing German-style churches – but the wine is incredible.
I stayed in Angaston, home of the famous dried fruit company, and I didn’t quite make it to the town named for my ancestors, Wasleys, which is in the same region. Sadly, the town of Wasleys suffered from terrible Pinery fire that ravaged the region a couple of years ago. I certainly want to go back and explore the area more thoroughly – the history and the buildings, as well as my own family heritage. And the wine may have a little something to do with it, too!

Thank you, Reading, Writing and Riesling, for allowing me to ramble on about love and wine, two of my favourite topics! I do hope your readers enjoy Dear Banjo.

Follow Sasha

Post Script: The Energy Guide – Dr Libby Weaver

“…it is what you do every day that impacts on your health, not what you do sometimes.” P.76

The Energy Guide

The Energy Guide

Dr Libby Weaver

Pan Macmillan Australia

ISBN: 9781925481495

 

Description:

‘Every day in my practice I’m seeing otherwise healthy people telling me that they feel exhausted and overwhelmed. It doesn’t have to be that way.’

 

Dr Libby Weaver, an internationally acclaimed nutritional biochemist, believes that our energy level, not our weight, is the most important benchmark of overall wellbeing. When we diet, we inevitably put the weight back on, but if we use energy as our wellness currency, we gain powerful insights into achieving good health for the long-term.

 

Drawing on years of academic and clinical experience, Dr Libby shows how to reboot your diet, improve your sleep, understand your hormones, reduce your stress and manage the demands on your time. She also provides over 100 recipes and meal ideas packed with energy-giving goodness.

 

Authoritative and compassionate, The Energy Guide will transform the way you think about your wellbeing, helping you make genuine and long-term improvements to your life to leave you healthier, happier and more productive.

 

 

My View:

“…it is what you do every day that impacts on your health, not what you do sometimes.” P.76

 

This book is much more than a cook book or a book on health, this is a book about “flourishing”, a book about listening to your body – “it will tell you when it’s time to slow down, rest, better support and enhance detoxification pathways, repair, replenish and restore.”(Introduction) Chapter One looks at how what we eat affects our energy levels and focusses on eating real wholefoods and the importance of hydration.  Chapter Two is about the importance of sleep – and as a long tern sufferer of Periodic Limb Movements (I do a kind of synchronized swimming in my sleep that means I don’t get good quality REM sleep most nights) – I know all about how poor sleep quality affects every aspect of your life. Chapter Three looks at the role of movement in promoting energy and wellbeing.  Chapter Four – is all about stress- do I hear a collective sigh hear?  Stress is a huge issue in our modern, busy, busy always in touch world. Dr Weaver shares the most effective science based strategies for managing stress (and yes I have started doing yoga, I am more aware of my “breathing, I am learning to say “no”, I eat wholefood and almost no processed food – unless I do the processing, and I am enjoying lots of “moments” in my day… and probably the painting I have just started doing is helpful, I certainly am enjoying it  J ) Chapter Five – talks about some specific health challenges.

 

I think there is information in this book that we can all benefit from.  And there are the recipes to support the restoration of energy to our body systems.  This is worthwhile reading.