Julie Goodwin's Essential Cookbook

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Julie Goodwin’s Essential Cookbook
Author: Julie Goodwin
Publication date: APR 11, 2017 |
ISBN: Paperback 9780733637117
ISBN: e-Book 9780733637124
Publisher: Hachette Australia

Publishers Summary
Australia's best-loved home cook and original MASTERCHEF, Julie Goodwin is back with the accessible and practical cookbook every family needs.
Looking for the perfect meal for your family?
All you need to make delicious food to feed your hungry loved ones is contained here in one place. Collected here for the first time you can find Julie's essential go-to recipes: from making a great omelette, to roasting the perfect chicken, preparing simple and satisfying soups and salads and baking classic cakes, muffins and desserts that will become family favourites. Whatever ingredients you have in the house, no matter the season or occasion, you can put together a tasty feast that will please everyone, every time.
Review
I do love cookbooks and really looked forward to browsing through Julie Goodwin’s well titled Essential Cookbook.
The book is in paperback form with a glossy wipeable cover, at the back are a  few plain pages to use for jotting down notes, and the front and back covers have sturdy flaps to use as bookmarks.

According to the introduction, Julie wrote this with her sons in mind, by gathering all the recipes she has accumulated from family and other sources over the years and bringing them together, along with "little bits of kitchen wisdom”, she has ensured that her boys will always have mum’s recipes close by.

In the Cooks note Julie includes a (blessedly short) list of  kitchen equipment that would be helpful to own, comfortingly adding that not to worry if you don't own it all because "there's not much that can't be achieved if you have a good pan, a good knife, a whisk and a wooden spoon".
Heck, she even clarifies that eternal spring onion/eschallot/shallot debate!
What I call "spring onions" Julie calls "shallots", and somebody somewhere calls "eschallots" so now we are clear.

The recipes are, of course, divided in to the usual sections and are well laid out, not every recipe has a photograph of the finished product, probably because there are so many of them!
Where necessary, a recipe will have a footnote with helpful suggestions and a bit of guidance on substitutions or where to buy certain ingredients.

The guide to the various methods of cooking meat is useful, especially as recommendations for the most suitable cuts for each method is included and, importantly, the reasons for why we should use them.
This sets the tone for all of the recipes, if there is a little tidbit of advice she thinks will help then Julie provides it.

I like that the meat section includes not only the cheaper family style recipes, such as cottage pie, meatballs and the like, but dishes for those special occasions, Beef Wellington for instance, a little too technical for me, but on reading the clear instructions I am tempted to give it a go one day.

If, like me, you are a sucker for a good sauce, you will love the Sauce, Soups and Dips section which includes a gorgeous and very tasty pepper sauce recipe, I didn’t have a steak handy but it certainly bucked up the snags!

I couldn't resist trying out the cheese stuffed meatballs in sauce, I didn't have enough Mozzarella to fill them all so for some I used Colby, these were OK  but I preferred Julie's mozzarella stuffed ones.
I also tried the foolproof No-bake lemon cheesecake, this was so easy to make and absolutely tangy and delicious. 

If parents are looking to send their kids out in to the world armed with the knowledge to feed themselves, then this book is entirely fit for purpose.

In fact I can’t think of anyone who would not appreciate this book, it is full of tasty family recipes that have been well tried and tested. Many are of the straightforward home cooking type, others are a little more challenging and others are a little exotic. There is definitely something for everyone.

If nobody buys this lovely book for you then buy it for yourself

Highly recommended

Review copy provided by Hachette Australia 

Dead Like Me: Kelly Miller

Monday, 17 April 2017

Dead Like Me: A Detective Kate Springer Mystery, Book 1
Written by: Kelly Miller
Narrated by: Angel Clark
Length: 7 hrs and 34 mins 
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:02-13-17
Publisher: Kelly Miller

Summary
On edge after a two-week mandatory leave, Homicide Detective Kate Springer is blindsided when she discovers she shares a link with Tampa's newest murder victim. A troubled teen is found strangled and dumped in a remote part of town. The bond between them threatens to expose Detective Springer's past, a past she's been hell-bent on keeping secret. When the killer finally emerges from the shadows, Kate's secrets aren't the only thing on the line. So is her life.

Review
Content warning: this story deals with child abuse which may distress some readers.

Detective Kate Springer is seeing a police psychologist, ostensibly because of her involvement in a shooting incident. However, as time goes by, Kates childhood secrets, so carefully hidden in deep her mind, begin to emerge. 

When called to a crime scene Kate gets a real shock when she first looks at the body of the young girl because she bears such a strong resemblance to herself at that age.

The investigating team pull in several men to assist with their murder inquiries and when Kate, by chance, sees one of them being interviewed, she is horrified, he is like a ghost risen from her secret past. 
How will she cope? Can she maintain her outward composure when all the time her mind is trying to make sense of this awful situation?

This story contains some interesting characters, Kates work partner Patrick Jessop is the perfect foil for Kate with her funny little ways. They get along quite well but that doesn’t prevent Kate from hiding her secrets from him. Her relationship with her therapist is interesting too, I can see this being built upon in future books.

Though quite gripping and fast moving for the most part, it did seem as if certain parts were being read straight from a text book, particularly the information regarding alcoholism, for me, this somewhat intruded on the flow of the story.

I’m not usually too keen on the psychologically damaged, kick ass type of character in books, but must say, that Kate, despite her flaws, comes off as far more interesting than most.
I have made a couple of negative comments but I really did enjoy the story and would happily read more about Kate Springer, I’m sure this will be a successful series.
Ah yes, just one more thing, I’m sure all us frumpier RNs didn’t take too much offence!

Narrated by Angel Clarke who is a seasoned performer with several audiobooks under her belt. Her experience shines through, I loved her as Kelly in particular. 
Angel brings a vitality to the characters, but a little too much at times I thought as couple of female voices were just a tad over animated for my taste. 
Audiobook provided by the author in return for an unbiased review


The Chalk Pit: Elly Griffiths 5 Stars

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Author: Elly Griffiths
Series: Dr. Ruth Galloway Mystery 9
ISBN 9781784296599
Publication date: 23 Feb 2017
Imprint: Quercus

When forensic archeologist Dr. Ruth Galloway is called in to inspect some bones found in the underground tunnels of Norwich, she finds that they are not ancient as first suspected, but have been placed there quite recently. What began as an  archeological find turns in to a murder investigation for DCI Harry Nelson.

In the world above ground, Babs, a rough sleeper has been reported as missing. DS Judy Johnson takes this seriously and uncovers rumours of a community who live in the tunnels. 
When two rough sleepers are found murdered the police take a closer look at the disappearance of Babs. 
When a housewife goes missing, resources are stretched to the limit as the police search for any link between the murders, the two missing women and the bones found in the tunnels.

Ruth, believing her involvement ended when she had examined the bones, later finds herself deeply involved in the murder case - and also with go-getter Superintendent Jo! Things get very exciting and the pace really picks up.

Meanwhile, Harry tries very hard to tolerate his new boss, Superintendent Jo Archer, at the same time, just as he thought that his life could be getting back on an even keel, he gets a big shock. Life is not going too well for Harry.

There is enough adventure, mystery and personal goings on to keep the reader fully engaged, for me it never lagged. Good writing ensures that the characters we have come to know continue to grow and remain interesting,
and there is always some unfinished business going on to lure the reader to the next book.
Yet another excellent read from author Elly Griffiths.

Review copy provided by Quercus via NetGalley

Killer on the Fens: Joy Ellis 5 Stars

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Series: DI Nikki Galena, Book 4
Written by: Joy Ellis
Narrated by: Henrietta Meire
Length: 6 hrs and 34 mins 
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:02-28-17
Publisher: Tantor Audio 

This is the fourth book in the series and it follows on nicely from the previous books.

Nikki, still fragile following the death of her daughter, now face the inevitable loss of her father. During the end stages of his dementing illness he tells Nikki that she must “find Eve”.
DS Joseph Easter is on leave, his daughter Tamsin is staying with him, their relationship is still on very shaky ground. Deciding that they both needed something that they could do together, Joseph asks Tamsin to help him find the elusive Eve. Joseph is surprised at Tamsin’s efficiency and skill at putting together all the little clues gleaned from old papers and photographs.

Meanwhile Nikki must solve what turns out to be an extraordinary and complex case, her investigations lead her to a very strange and eerie underground location.
It all begins with the discovery of a badly injured young man who had fallen down a shaft, he was near to death. Later, when the murders begin, this young man is brought to Nikki’s attention. His grandmother is missing, as are some of the stray animals she had adopted.

Strange lights appear on the Fens, they are witnessed by police officers but their source cannot be found. Are they connected to the murders?

This is another intriguing mystery story in a series that continues to get better, and, in my opinion, this is the best one yet.

For those who love audiobooks, the narrator can make or break a story.
Luckily for us listeners Henrietta Meire continues to narrate this series and, as always, does a great job. Take a look at my reviews of previous “Fens” mysteries to read more about Henrietta. This recording is of excellent quality.
Copy provided by Tantor Media for an unbiased review

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Ragdoll: Daniel Cole 5 Stars

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Title: Ragdoll
Author: Daniel Cole
Genre: Crime. Mystery
Format: Paperback 
ISBN-10: 1409168751 
Published: 28th February 2017
Published in Australia by Hachette Australia
Imprint: Trapeze
5 Stars
Summary
A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together like a puppet, nicknamed by the press as the 'ragdoll'.
Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William 'Wolf' Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter. 
The 'Ragdoll Killer' taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them. 
With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move? 
Review 
This book is such a memorable read.
 It is an extravaganza of madness, murder and mayhem and it spins along at breakneck speed!
For starters, there’s the outrageously improbable plot:
Six people are murdered, parts of their bodies are stitched together to create one monstrous corpse. When closely examined, each part contains a clue to the identity of the victim. 
Next comes the Death List which contains not only the names of future victims but the date on which they will be murdered.
This list has been made public, sent to Andrea, a TV newsreader. Her awful boss decides to wring every last drop of publicity from it by featuring a prime time countdown to the proposed murders.

The two prominent detectives on the case are DS William Oliver Layton-Fawkes aka “Wolf” and DS Emily Baxter. Now if you like your fictional cops to be psychologically messed up, then you will love these two!
Fawkes did something unthinkable, got kicked out of the force straight in to a mental health facility. However ….
As things turned out, his crime was later viewed as being morally justified, the great British Public demanded his reinstatement so, when he was all better, he was back on the job.
DS Emily Baxters' troubles are not so obvious to the onlooker, but keep your eye on that one!
Emily is babysitting Edmunds, a young detective who has transferred from Fraud. Edmunds is reasonably normal, or was before his transfer.

What with the elaborate and quite spectacular plot, the black humour, the monstrous crimes and the crazy, unrestrained characters, my review is merely scratching the surface of this complex story.
Daniel Cole has created something that ought to be a great big blockbuster of a movie.
Fabulous entertainment!

Review paperback copy provided by Hachette Australia

Deliciously Ella with Friends: Ella Mills

Wednesday, 15 March 2017


Author: Ella Mills
Paperback
ISBN: 9781473655263
Pub. JAN 31, 2017 
Genre: Cookery / Health and Wholefood / Vegetarian
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Publishers Summary:
The much-anticipated follow-up cookbook from Deliciously Ella, the inspirational bestselling healthy food writer who has taken the cookery world by storm.
In the follow-up to her amazing bestseller DELICIOUSLY ELLA EVERY DAY, Ella makes it easy for you to prepare delicious healthy food for you, your friends and family, whatever the occasion. No more wondering whether certain dishes go together, Ella makes life simple with her menus - whether you are planning a laid-back brunch, a last-minute lunch or a fancy supper, Ella has it covered with wonderful hearty and filling recipes that celebrate her healthy eating philosophy.
With ideas and inspiration for every foodie occasion, including cosy nights in, easy kitchen suppers, flavoursome feasts, birthday parties, picnics and mocktails and cocktails, this is the go-to book for anyone who lives a healthy lifestyle and loves sharing food with friends and family.

Review
I usually cook a meatless meal a couple of nights a week so I looked forward to maybe getting a few ideas from this book.
Pros
Nicely categorised with some tasty looking main meals, particularly within the feast section. (Do try the Indian style recipes, very tasty indeed.)
A good selection of desserts and a few cakes for those with a sweet tooth
Plenty of photos so we know what the food ought to look like, possibly too many photos of widely smiling young things, but then, the title does state “with friends”.
Cons
There is no Glossary. 
The norm in most cookbooks these days and, I believe, essential. I like to have a full glossary to explain each ingredient and its possible substitute. 
For example, which type of coconut oil is the healthiest choice? Especially as it seems to be a controversial food product these days.
I would like to know how to substitute those ingredients which are unavailable to me where I live, how much vanilla extract equates to two teaspoonsful of vanilla powder?
There is no Pantry list. 
A suggested shopping list of ingredients to keep on hand would be handy for someone embarking on a plant based diet.
Lastly, and my biggest grouch is why, oh why are nutritional values not stated? This is a book about healthy eating, readers need to know if the protein/fat/carbohydrate content of a meal is balanced. I found this omission very odd.

Summary
I’m afraid I was underwhelmed and a bit disappointed with this book, maybe my expectations were too high, but this book did not provide me with the information I have come to expect from a modern cookbook. 
Ella needs to give her readers more information for their money.
Review copy provided by Hachette Australia


Without Remorse: The Harry Starke Novels, Book 9

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Without Remorse: The Harry Starke Novels, Book 9
Written by: Blair Howard
Narrated by: Tom Lennon
Length: 7 hrs and 9 mins 
Series: Harry Starke, Book 9
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:01-31-17
Publisher: Blair Howard
5 Stars
Publishers Summary
On a balmy afternoon in May 2002, wealthy stockbroker Peter Nicholson was turkey hunting with three friends in Prentice Cooper State Forest when he tripped, fell on his shotgun, and accidentally shot himself...dead, but did he? 15 years later, as a last resort, Nicholson's mother asks Harry Starke to find the truth. As we all know, Harry loves a cold case, but...as always, there's a twist in the tale.
Review
When Harry returned to work after his last adventure it was to discover that his staff were so efficient that they had nothing for him to do. Amanda was busy trying to get her old job back, Kate was busy, even Jaque was too busy to chat. He was a bit put out about this  ….  and Harry was bored!

That is until Helen Nicholson walked in. Helen did not believe that her son Peter shot himself, she was convinced it was murder. Having made several unsuccessful attempts to get the case reopened, she was looking for someone to dig up fresh evidence. She did not expect Harry to accept the case.

Well, of course, being Harry - a bored Harry, he surprised her by accepting.
However, when she told him who her sons shooting companions were on that day Harry could see why 
1: nobody else wanted to touch it and 
2: that this was going to be a very, very tough assignment.
You see, one was now a senior circuit judge, one was an Assistant U.S. Attorney and the third, a high flying lawyer.

Harry was right, it was tough going, but what an assignment it proved to be! Can Harry win this one?

In true Blair Howard style we get a fully engaging fast paced yarn, inhabited by all those wonderful, richly developed characters that Harry fans have come to know and love. Have no doubt, Without Remorse will keep you guessing.

Yes, narrator Tom Lennon lives up to our expectations again, giving us yet another outstanding performance and a high quality recording, thanks Tom.

Copy provided by narrator for review purposes
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