Review: A-Z of Australian Animals – Jennifer Cossins

A-Z of Australian Animals

The A –Z of Australian Animals

Jennifer Cossins

Hachette Australia

Lothian

ISBN: 9780734418586

 

 

Description:

From the award-winning creator of A-Z of Endangered Animals comes a stunning non-fiction picture book for boys and girls with a love of animals and a thirst for all things encyclopaedic. This exquisite full-colour picture book is packed with interesting facts and is perfect for young conservationists and students with a keen interest in the world around us.

 

On this expedition through the alphabet, you will encounter some of the Australia’s rare and enchanting animals, from the gorgeous azure kingfisher and the sleepy koala, to the shy numbat and the friendly zebra finch.

 

Come on an illustrated journey through Australia’s unique wildlife with Tasmanian artist Jennifer Cossins.

 

 

My View:

Delightful! This is a beautifully detailed, gorgeously illustrated book that children, young and old will adore. Buy for your grandchildren, children or overseas friends and family – all will be impressed.

 

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Review: Retribution – Richard Anderson

Retribution

Richard Anderson

Scribe Publications

ISBN: 9781925713404

 

Description:

A rural-crime novel about finding out how to survive and surviving what you find.

 

In a small country town, an act of revenge causes five lives to collide. Early one Christmas morning, Graeme Sweetapple, a man down on his luck, is heading home with a truck full of stolen steers when he comes across an upended ute that has hit a tree. He is about to get involved with Luke, an environmental protestor who isn’t what he seems; a washed-up local politician, Caroline Statham, who is searching for a sense of purpose, but whose businessman husband seems to be sliding into corruption; and Carson, who is wild, bound to no one, and determined to escape her circumstances.

 

Into their midst comes Retribution, a legendary horse worth a fortune. Her disappearance triggers a cycle of violence and retaliation that threatens the whole community. As tensions build, they must answer one question: is true retribution ever possible — or even desirable?

 

 

My View:

A gripping page turner that will make you gasp at the injustice (there are a few but one really, really nasty and evil one that will have you groaning in despair, no spoilers here) and then there is triumph!  You will cheer on the protagonists and celebrate their victories when “something worthwhile and more than an act of simple vengeance” p.311 leaves a smile on your face as you pump your fist in the air. YES!!!!

 

I did enjoy this read!

 

Another author to add to your must read list.

 

 

Guest Review: The Desert Nurse – Pamela Hart

The Desert Nurse

The Desert Nurse

Pamela Hart

Hachette AU

ISBN: 9780733637568

 

Description:

Amid the Australian Army hospitals of World War I Egypt, two deeply determined individuals find the resilience of their love tested to its limits

It’s 1911, and 21-year-old Evelyn Northey desperately wants to become a doctor. Her father forbids it, withholding the inheritance that would allow her to attend university. At the outbreak of World War I, Evelyn disobeys her father, enlisting as an army nurse bound for Egypt and the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.

Under the blazing desert sun, Evelyn develops feelings for polio survivor Dr William Brent, who believes his disability makes him unfit to marry. For Evelyn, still pursuing her goal of studying medicine, a man has no place in her future. For two such self-reliant people, relying on someone else for happiness may be the hardest challenge of all.

From the casualty tents, the fever wards and the operating theatres of the palace; through the streets of Cairo during Ramadan, to the parched desert and the grim realities of war, Pamela Hart, beloved bestselling Australian author of THE WAR BRIDE, tells the heart-wrenching story of four years that changed the world forever.

Brenda’s Review:

Sublime, captivating, heartbreaking, brilliant! These words and more describe Aussie author Pamela Hart’s latest novel. The Desert Nurse is set in the early 1900s when a young Evelyn Northey had just turned twenty-one and expected to receive her mother’s inheritance so that she could study in Sydney to become a doctor – a dream she’d held since she was thirteen years of age. But her father was a staid, old fashioned man, and although a doctor himself, refused to allow his daughter the same privilege. He would hold her money until she turned thirty, or until she married, in which case the money would become her husband’s…

Training with a friend of her father’s in the Taree Manning Base Hospital as a nurse was the best Evelyn could do. She was grateful beyond words for his help – and when she presented the certificate to her father and he ripped it up, she informed him she had another; she was also heading to Cairo as a nurse and there was nothing he could do to stop her. World War I had begun – doctors and nurses would be needed, and Evelyn was determined to do her bit.

As the Heliopolis Palace was turned into the 1st Australian General Hospital, patients began arriving from the disastrous Dardanelles campaign; some were walking wounded, others had shocking injuries. But Dr William Brent, although struggling with a weak leg from polio as a child, was a hard-working, doggedly determined and compassionate doctor, and with Sister Northey by his side, they often worked twenty hours straight in theatre, with barely a break.

Four years of blood, sweat and tears – of heartache and loss; of hope and fear. And feelings that grew, whether they wanted them to or not. What would be the outcome for Evelyn and William – for the many others affected by a horrific and unnecessary war?

Pamela Hart writes historical fiction with seeming ease. The words flow; the research is obvious; the pages turn themselves. I’ve loved her previous historical fiction novels, and this one didn’t disappoint. The cover is perfect for the story; the red-haired beauty is Evelyn to a tee – the background picture of the hospital tents on the front line as I imagined. I can’t recommend The Desert Nurse highly enough – 5 stars.

With thanks to Hachette AU for my ARC to read and review.

Review: Farmacy Kitchen Cookbook Plant Based Recipes for Conscious Living – Camilla Fayed

Farmacy Kitchen Cook Book by Camilla Fayed cover art

Farmacy Kitchen Cookbook

Camilla Fayed

Hachette Australia

Aster: Octopus Books

ISBN: 9781912023509

 

Description:

Want to eat well with nature’s best ingredients while being aware of where our food comes from?

 

Think taking better care of the land and people who grow these ingredients is important?

Welcome to the FARMACY KITCHEN, where you will find inspirational ideas for conscious living and delicious recipes for plant-based eating. The Farmacy ethos is about bringing attention back to nature, simplicity and balance. We love to follow the concept of ‘simple abundance’ in the food we create, using fresh, colourful and whole foods in inspired combinations for maximum taste, digestion and enjoyment.

 

We know how good food tastes when it’s made with love and intention. It’s a creative process that brings care into the kitchen to make great-tasting food to nourish the body and energise the soul. A process that you can now bring to your own kitchen with the help of this book.

 

 

My View:

This beautiful book pays homage to fresh, natural plant based ingredients in colourful and tantalising ways. I must admit I was instantly drawn to the breakfast breads and some of the desserts (especially the gluten free, vegan, raw Chocolate Wheels – which look a lot like a commercially made comfort food of my childhood).

 

This book has so much more than comfort foods to offer; I love that there is a comprehensive guide to preparing nuts, seeds, grains and beans.  Activating nuts and seeds by soaking makes digestion easier and their nutrients easier to absorb. And can improve taste.  Following on is a section on sprouting, and then another on cooking with beans and pulses. A great tip here (that I know but don’t follow often enough) is to soak and cook different types of beans separately as the cooking times varies depending on the variety.  I often make a bean casserole or need a mix of beans for a dip or burger – and sure enough if I try and short cut and soak and cook together some are over cooked (mushy) some are still hard…one I will learn J

 

There is a great section on “basics” which covers making sauces, nut and seed milk, nut butter, fruit chia jams etc. There are sections on breakfast, dip and appetizers, sides, soups and salads, mains and desserts. The final chapter adds a surprising element – a section on natural recipes for keeping your home and body healthy without the chemicals; think edible body butter, natural toothpaste and body wash.

 

This is a comprehensive guide to fresh and natural plant based cooking.

 

 

 

 

Review – Mr Ordinary Goes to Jail – Wil Patterson

Mr Ordinary Goes to Jail by Wil Paterson cover art

Mr Ordinary Goes to Jail

Wil Patterson

Finch Publishing

ISBN: 9780648226741

 

Description:

‘Wil’s honesty really had me gripped and his description of his first night in jail is something I won’t forget.’ – Emily Webb, crime author and podcast host of ‘Australian True Crime’.

 

Wil Patterson was your everyday working husband and father, trying to keep up with the latest car, house and toys for his family. Always one to make light of things, he nevertheless became increasingly desperate about how he was going to pay his bills. One day while at work at his insurance job, he came across a large cheque that was addressed to someone who shared his name. The temptation was too great and soon enough Wil found himself down at the bank. After swearing to himself, ‘never again’, it wasn’t too long before a similar situation arose and Wil could not resist.

 

Well, no crime goes unpunished and Wil was eventually caught and charged and, to his horror, sentenced to 3 years’ prison time. Mr Ordinary Goes to Jail is Wil’s account of his time in a contemporary Victorian prison, the unusual characters he met, the often hilarious and terrifying situations he found himself in, and the ways in which he comes to terms with his past and forges a new future.

 

This is for anybody who has ever wondered, ‘What is it really like inside?’ or ever speculated how they might cope if they were in the same situation. It also details the reactions of Wil’s family and friends and examines the steps Wil had to take to be accepted back into his family and society.

 

 

My View:

One upon a time, many years and career changes a go, I had a part time job – social worker for visits time at a low security prison. I was filled with the same trepidation that Will experienced for his first night at prison.  I knew no-one else at the prison, I didn’t know how any of the prison systems worked (I had assumed I would have a meeting with someone on staff before I started work but that didn’t happen). I was a little concerned. The stereotypes of prisoners in crime fiction and film and TV shows were almost enough to put me off- but I was studying and thought I wanted this experience on my resume.

 

So Sunday – visits are generally on a Sunday, I made my way to the local prison. I didn’t even know how to enter the place and consequently drove down a road I shouldn’t have and was quickly escorted to the main entrance by a patrol of guards.

 

My concerns must have been obvious – one of the guards on duty that day took me to one side and said “They (prisoners) are just ordinary people. Think of the street you live in – you don’t know anything about those people, they could have a record…treat inmates like people.” But then suggested a few sensible precautions… and with that piece of worldly advice I started work, mostly I assisted prison visitors to fill out forms and allay their fears (most hadn’t been in a prison before either and shared many of my concerns) – a calm visitor makes for a good visit day.

 

I didn’t work there very long but that’s another story.

 

So I understood a little of Wil’s trepidation. It’s about expectations. And hoping most of them don’t come true.

 

I enjoyed this honest, creative memoir /coming of age/humorous (mostly) reflection on Wil’s time in jail. He highlights some flaws in the judicial system, reflects on his own past, his crime and accepts responsibility for his actions.  He doesn’t allow himself to be defined by the actions that landed him in jail. I am pleased he has found a way to reconnect with his family and start a meaningful life.

 

 

 

 

Review – The Other Wife – Michael Robotham

The Other Wife by Michael Robotham cover art

The Other Wife (Joseph O’Loughlin #9)

Michael Robotham

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733637933

 

Description:

A secret wife. A secret life. A killer who knows.

 

Childhood sweethearts William and Mary have been married for sixty years. William is a celebrated surgeon, Mary a devoted wife. Both have a strong sense of right and wrong.

This is what their son, Joe O’Loughlin, has always believed. But when Joe is summoned to the hospital with news that his father has been brutally attacked, his world is turned upside down. Who is the strange woman crying at William’s bedside, covered in his blood – a friend, a mistress, a fantasist or a killer?

Against the advice of the police, Joe launches his own investigation. As he learns more, he discovers sides to his father he never knew – and is forcibly reminded that the truth comes at a price.

 

Fresh from the highest selling book of his career, The Secrets She Keeps, multi-million-copy bestselling author Michael Robotham returns to his beloved Joe O’Loughlin series in this compelling psychological thriller that delves into the consequences of a tragedy, exposing a lifetime of shocking cover-up that is too close to home for the famous psychologist.

 

 

My View:

I love the Joe O’Loughlin series – I am invested in the main characters, their stories and the crimes they solve.  This episode centres on Joe and his family as suspects, victims and villains, what a read! And despite this book being number nine in the series it can just as easily be read as a standalone for those who are catching up with this series and author.

 

My enjoyment of this read was enhanced when I recently saw Michael Robotham at our local Readers and Writers Festival – what a great natural story teller he is.