A Man with One of Those faces: Caimh McDonnell 5 STARS

Friday, 23 September 2016

Author: Caimh McDonnell 
Paperback: 332 pages
Publisher: McFori Ink (August 27, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0995507503
ISBN-13: 978-0995507500
Source McFori Ink/via NetGalley
Genre: Humorous  Crime
 5 STARS

Publishers Summary
A darkly comic Irish crime thriller. 
The first time somebody tried to kill him was an accident. 
The second time was deliberate. 
Now Paul Mulchrone finds himself on the run with nobody to turn to except a nurse who has read one-too-many crime novels and a renegade copper with a penchant for violence. Together they must solve one of the most notorious crimes in Irish history . . . 
. . . or else they’ll be history. 

Review

I loved this book! It appeared without the usual publishers’ fanfare and hyperbole of many a lesser book and so I feel lucky to have come across such a gem. 
Now, 
a bit about our hero…

Paul Mulchrone is twenty-eight years old and “five foot nine of sheer ordinariness”. He is a man whose only friend seems to be Mickey, the delivery driver for a Chinese takeaway, The Oriental Palace which proudly boasts of an in-dining area (with ambience).

Pauls Great Aunt Fidelma, whom he’d only met twice and didn’t much like, died and left everything to the donkey sanctuary. She didn’t forget Paul though, he was to be allowed to live in her house and was to receive 500 euros a month - with conditions! 
1: He could live there until he found gainful employment 
2:He must not get into any trouble with the law and
3: In order to improve himself he must undertake six hours of charitable work each week, to be monitored by Mr. Greevy of Greevy and Co. solicitors.
When Paul learned of these conditions he determined that, just to spite Aunt Fidelma, he would live off her 500 euros forever - hence he lived a very frugal life!

…and now just a little bit about the story

We meet up with Paul at the hospice where he is carries out his charitable duties; he becomes whatever the confused patient wants him to be, son, nephew, grandson, Paul didn’t mind. 
He was about to go home and was wanting Nurse Brigit Conroy to sign his work note when she asked him a for favour, Nurse Brigit has a bit of a mouth on her and despite having worked five minutes overtime that week Paul found her to be a woman who was difficult to refuse. 
The old fella she wanted him visit mistakes Paul for someone else, someone he obviously disliked because, with the last of the strength left in his body he attacked and stabbed Paul in the shoulder. At the hospital Dr. Sinha, trying to cheer up Paul tells him that being stabbed is better than being shot, and how much nicer it was to be stabbed by someone you didn’t know rather than by someone you did know, as that wouldn’t be very nice at all.

Before long it became apparent that somebody somewhere thought that Paul knew something about something, and for that he must be taken out.
Paul had no idea what that ‘something’ might be.
Not having much faith in D.I. Jimmy Stewart and his sidekick Wilson to protect them, Paul and Nurse Brigit go on the run. 
Somewhere along the way the awful police officer Bunny McGarry intrudes himself into the case, Paul having been “one of his boys” in his hurling team from way back, justified Bunnys poking his nose in to everything.

Paul and Nurse Brigit are given temporary shelter by Dorothy, who believes that Paul is her  grandson Gregory. In an effort to remain ladylike, Dorothy transposes the first letter of every cuss word with an “m”, so “muckin’and  “ munt” appear quite frequently.
Eventually their hideout is discovered and that is when the real adventure begins, Nurse Brigit, whose only experience of crime is from watching the telly is secretly thrilled to be involved, she decides they must investigate. That is, until it gets really dangerous!

This is humorous crime at its finest, droll, witty and highly entertaining. The characters are well fleshed out and engaging - wait ’til you meet the very pregnant Nora Stokes, Pauls solicitor. - What a Woman!

The writing is skilled and captivating, I am eagerly awaiting the next book.


Review copy provided byMcFori Ink via NetGalley

Cuba! Recipes and Stories from the Cuban Kitchen 5 Stars

Sunday, 18 September 2016

By Jody Eddy, Dan Goldberg, Andrea Kuhn
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Ten Speed Press 
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
ISBN-10: 1607749866
ISBN-13: 978-1607749868
Source: NetGalley / Ten Speed Press
Publishers Summary: 
Cuba continues to captivate visitors with its vibrant culture, colorful cities, and incredible cuisine.Cuba! explores the magic of this country through recipes and stories that will set taste buds on fire and delight even the most well-seasoned traveler.
Review
What a fabulous read! Cuba! takes cookbooks to a higher level, giving as it does so much more than recipes.
I enjoyed learning a little of the history of Cuba and the effects of the strict rationing which gave rise to The Paladares, private restaurants. Once illegal because, by taking advantage of black market products, they provided relief from the rationing for those who could afford it.

I was surprised to read of the proliferation of organoponicos (organic urban gardens) which have been so successful in providing food for city dwellers, and are now copied worldwide. An interesting concept and well worth looking up.

Oh and the recipes, I appreciate how both the original recipes and the "gussied up" recipes are both given, there can't be a more staple meal than rice and beans, but with a few tasty additions who wouldn't appreciate a plateful of congri? There's a whole raft of wonderful recipes in this book to try, and I can't wait to get going on some of them.

The authors also include a few  anecdotes about the Cuban people themselves, allowing us a brief insight to their daily lives. The illustrations are gorgeous, my favourite being the Cuban Pantry.
I would like to express my appreciation to the authors for producing this outstanding book, so entertaining, so informative and so beautiful.
ARC provided by NetGalley and Ten Speed Press for an unbiased review

About the Authors (via Amazon)
Dan Goldberg is an award-winning commercial photographer specializing in food photography. His work has been recognized by the London International Advertising Awards and he’s been listed as Archive’s Best 200 Advertising Photographers. When not taking photographs, you can find him seeking out the best food and drink in town, fly-fishing, and traveling the world with his wife, Casey and daughter, Dylan.
 
Prop stylist and art director, Andrea Kuhn’s work has appeared in national magazines and ad campaigns, as well as numerous cookbooks, including The Girl in the Kitchen, the James Beard-nominated Spiaggia, Cookie Love and Fat Rice. When not on set, you can find Andrea perusing flea markets (near and far) looking for that perfect prop, enjoying a good cup of coffee, and hanging at the dog park with her doodle, Finley. She lives in Chicago, Illinois.  
 
Jody Eddy is a food writer and the author of Come In, We're Closed and the IACP Award-winning North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland. She is also the former editor of Art Culinaire. A graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan, Jody has cooked at Jean Georges, Tabla, and The Fat Duck. She lives in Chicago where she enjoys running, gardening, and planning tomorrow’s next culinary adventure.

Available from BOOKTOPIA  and AMAZON

Taste of Persia: Naomi Duguid 5 STARS

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Hardcover
ISBN 9781579655488
Author: Naomi Duguid
Publisher: Artisan Books

Publication Date:  September 2016
5 Stars
Description
Following up on Burma, her stunningly well-received exploration of another fascinating cultural crossroads, Duguid introduces us to the next place we want to visit with recipes for food we can't wait to make, and with tales that are memorable and moving. In the way that the Mediterranean has a common palate, so too do these nations: one centered on a love for the fresh and the green (beginning with the piles of fresh herbs that accompany every dish with abandon) and also the tart, as revealed in the ingenious use of sour plums, sour cherries, pomegranates, and limes. There are the delectable filled dumplings, flatbreads, and stuffed vegetables; plus gorgeous Persian rice dishes, grilled meats, and skewered kebabs. There are fresh cheeses, sparkly salads, spice blends, and spectacular sauces based on walnuts ground to a paste.

Taste of Persia is an adventure of discovery—not only of a fascinating region, rich with history and variety, but of a wealth of culinary traditions and innovations as well.

Review
Taste of Persia: A Cook's Travels Through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Kurdistan

This book is absolutely gorgeous, my first impression is of beautiful high quality colourful  illustrations of people places and food.
Interest is ramped up by the wonderfully descriptive travelogue and the fascinating anecdotes about a people I know so little about.

The layout is very well thought out everything I want in a cookbook as it includes Pantry Basics, the all important but too often omitted glossary, so necessary  when attempting new and unusual dishes. There is even an annotated bibliography - perfect!

Then of course there is the food! I would feel confident to try these recipes, though maybe not the plor dish, that looks a bit complicated for me, but there are several delicious looking other stews

Many of the recipes are cooked on the stove top, even bread recipes, I loved the look of the cheese filled quick breads and the half moon hand pies. The recipes are well written with clear instructions for the nervous cook, so no excuses for not giving them a go.

This is a book that I would look at often, I imagine the recipes will be well used and, even if not in the mood for cooking, the illustrations are worth looking at over and over.
What a fabulous and welcome gift this would be for anyone interested in food.

ARC via NetGalley for unbiased review

Murder Strikes a Pose: Tracy Weber 4 Stars

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Written by: Tracy Weber
Narrated by: Anne James
Length: 8 hrs and 18 mins 
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:08-16-16
Publisher: Tracy Weber
Whispersync for Voice-ready
Publisher's Summary

Seattle yoga instructor Kate Davidson often acts more like a champion fighting rooster than the Dalai Lama. When she's not teaching yoga, she spends her time hiding from her creepy landlord and dodging her best friend's relentless matchmaking attempts. Even though her father was a cop, Kate has zero crime fighting aspirations. She has enough trouble keeping her struggling yoga business afloat while trying to live up to yoga's Zen-like expectations.
Then she stumbles over a body in the studio's parking lot.
The police dismiss the murder as drug-related street crime, but Kate knows that George - a homeless alcoholic she had befriended-was no drug dealer. And if the police won't take his murder seriously, she'll just have to solve the crime herself. After all, "Drunk Dies in Drug Deal Gone Bad at Yoga Studio" isn't exactly the free publicity she's been hoping for.
Kate stretches herself and takes on two new challenges. First, solve George's murder. Second, find someone-anyone-willing to adopt his intimidating, horse-sized German shepherd, Bella, before Animal Control sends her to the big dog park in the sky.
But with Bella's time almost up and the murderer hot on her trail, Kate will have to work fast. Or the next time she practices Corpse Pose, it may be for real.
©2014 Midnight Ink (P)2016 Tracy Weber
Review
I always  enjoy a cozy when one of the lead characters is a dog, and Bella is the real star of this show.
Kate Davidson gets upset when a homeless man, George, sets up right out side of her yoga studio to sell his papers. It isn't so much George that she objects to as his dog Bella, she goes crazy if another dog comes near, Kate worries that the racket she makes will disturb the calm atmosphere of her yoga classes. Times are tough for Kate at this time and she can't afford to lose customers because of raucous Bella.

Despite a rocky start, she and George come to an arrangement, but Bella is sick and losing weight, George discovers that she needs expensive enzymes in her food to keep her well. He tells Kate that he has an idea of how to get the money and then disappears for a few days.

Meanwhile she is deterring the advances of the charming pet store owner because he has a beard, she hates beards and, coincidentally, so does Bella.

George returns, Kate discovers his body, the police initially assess his murder as a drugs deal gone wrong, they don't seem to believe Kate when she denies that possibility. Kate temporarily takes over the care of Bella until she can find her a new home.

Kate is angry with the attitude of the police and so decides to investigate Georges murder herself. everyone warns her off, but she is determined and carries on anyway.

I quite enjoyed the story, except for Kate! Kate, you see, knows best. She has a really nasty mouth on her, upsetting people for no better reason that they dared to disagree with her, and nothing is ever her fault. She complains greatly about how little money she has but has no qualms about spending plenty in the coffee shop and on other things that it didn't seem likely she could afford. she didn't quite fit in with the whole yoga philosophy.

Still, she did seem to improve in character and temperament towards the end, so maybe there is hope for her yet in future stories. Who knows maybe Kate will start a new trend: the protagonist you love to hate!

I recommend this book for anyone who loves a cozy - and a dog!
Narrator
Thoroughly enjoyable narration by Anne James, pleasant voice with good pace and rhythm. I loved how she portrayed Kate at her most indignant and obnoxious! Good gender differentiation, Anne gave each character a distinct and easily identifiable voice.

Audiobook provided by the author, publisher or narrator for unbiased review




Taste and Technique: Naomi Pomeroy 5 Stars

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Author Naomi Pomeroy
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Cooking, Food & Wine
Pub Date 13 Sep 20
ISBN 9781607748991

Source: NetGalley/Ten Speed Press

Description
James Beard Award-winning and self-made chef Naomi Pomeroy's debut cookbook, featuring 95 lesson-driven recipes designed to improve the home cook's understanding of professional techniques and flavor combinations in order to produce simple, but show stopping meals.
Combining elements of Julia Child's classical aesthetic and ambition to teach the world how to cook with Naomi Pomeroy's own unique history, style, and verve, this book is an inspiring guide for home cooks who want to up their game in the kitchen. Pomeroy demystifies professional techniques by paring back complex recipes to the building blocks necessary to create them. Her "master lessons" approach will appeal to home cooks of all levels who want to improve their skills. And her nurturing, self-deprecating tone is a welcome change from the ethereal fine-dining tomes that home cooks can't actually cook from or the snapshots of a specific restaurant meant to celebrate the chef's cult of personality. Beginning with sauces, and working from straightforward to more complex recipes, Pomeroy presents a collection of dishes you want to eat every day, including salads, vegetables, fish, pork, meat, and desserts--along with the tools and techniques you need to make each meal shine.
Review
The first thing I noticed and liked about this book is the abbreviated history of the author including her path to becoming a chef and of both her business successes and failures, I like to know a little of the road people have travelled.

In the informative “How this book works” section Chef Pomeroy explains her cooking philosophy in a down to earth workmanlike way, from the building blocks of technique to how the mood you take with you to the kitchen can affect the taste and quality of the food you produce.

It has an easy to read layout, divided into sections with each section having  a little “menu” of contents so the reader can easily see the recipes at a glance.

The techniques are built in to each recipe , a good example being the very detailed instructions for making consommé, a long and many staged process, but if you can master it you will learn some very useful techniques. However, many of the recipes are what most people would consider to restaurant standard and a little too challenging. Nevertheless, ambitious home cooks will find plenty to challenge and inspire them.

As for myself, I discovered a couple of recipes that I will certainly be trying, one being for aioli with variations. Another recipe I thought I might manage is Classic French Onion soup. I thought that the cabbage veloute with lemon confit creme fraiche and herb oil would be a bit too difficult and fancy for my taste!

Other useful sections include the choosing of equipment, a handy pantry guide and a most excellent glossary of techniques. 
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in food, even if the recipes are not exactly everyday cooking, there is something of interest for every food lover, no matter their level of expertise.

ARC provided by NetGalley and Ten Speed Press
Available from Amazon

Kevin The Koala: Rachel Bright Jim Field 5 STARS

Author: Rachel Bright  Illustrator: Jim Field
Audience: Children 
Format: Hardcover 
ISBN: 9781408331637
ISBN-10: 1408331637
Publication date: 13 Sep 2016
Page count: 32
Hachette Australia Imprint: Orchard Books
Source: Hachette Australia
Publishers Summary (excerpt)

Sometimes change comes along whether we like it or not . . . but if you let it, change can be the making of you. Kevin the Koala discovers this and more in this delightful picture book from the bestselling creators of The Lion Inside!

Review

Such a beautiful book!
This is a really lovely story that will help to teach children that new experiences can be fun, even those that might seem to be a bit scary at first:

Kevin the Koala won’t leave his tree, he feels safe and secure high above the world. Kevin is sure that if he leaves his little haven, bad things will happen. Even when his friend Wombat calls to him to come down and play Kevin makes up excuses to stay right where he is.

The story is told in a charming, lively four line rhyming style that is so easy for little ones to learn. Each rhyme is matched to a beautiful illustration rich in colour and detail, there will always be something new to look at and talk about.

The book itself is of high quality, a bright and sturdy covers encloses high quality paper meant to endure years of poking and page turning by little fingers. The size is just right for sharing the story, pictures and enjoyment, who doesn’t love a koala?

I highly recommend this book as a gift for a child of around 3 to 5 years of age, it would be an especially useful way to introduce the children of other countries to some of our Australian creatures such as Wombat, ‘Roo and Dingo.
Review copy provided by Hachette Australia

About the Authors
Rachel Bright is a writer, illustrator, printmaker and eternal optimist. She is the creator of the award-winning stationery and homewares range, The Bright Side, which has sold over 2 million cards worldwide. Rachel has written and illustrated several books for children, including Love Monster, What Does Daddy Do? and My Sister is an Alien. She lives on a farm near the seaside with her partner and new baby daughter.

Jim Field drew from a very early age with a burning ambition to 'make cartoons'. He studied animation at Hull School of Art and Design, graduated in 2002, gradually paved his way into the animation industry working as a director for Partizan in London. Meanwhile, he was also penning his way as a freelance illustrator working for editorial publications. His first picture book, Cats Ahoy! written by Peter Bently, won the Booktrust Roald Dahl Funny Prize in 2011 and was nominated for the Kate Greenaway award.
Available from Booktopia  and Amazon

The Hating Game: Sally Thorne. 4 STARS

Friday, 9 September 2016

Author: Sally Thorne 
Paperback
ISBN: 9780349414256
E-Book
ASIN: B01DT7MSLO
Publisher: Hachette/Imprint: Piatkus 
Publication date: 09 Aug 2016
Source: Hachette Australia
Publishers Summary
Nemesis (n.)
1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
2) A person's undoing
3) Joshua Templeman
Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She's charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.
Trapped in a shared office together forty (ok, fifty or sixty) hours a week, they've become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There's the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can't let Joshua beat her at anything-especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.
If Lucy wins this game, she'll be Joshua's boss. If she loses, she'll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she's got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth-shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she's got Joshua Templeman all wrong.
Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn't hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn't hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game

Review
Well, not my usual genre for sure! Usually knee deep in crime books I was in need of something light, easy to read and funny. I grabbed the chance to read The Hating Game as it seemed to fit the bill nicely.

So, how did these two game players end up sharing an office?

Gamin Publishing and Bexley Books were both sinking fast, the solution was to merge the two failing publishing houses to form a new baby: Bexley and Gamin Publishing.
The two co CEOs are chalk and cheese, Helen Pascal is a real Gamin girl (books are treasure) and Richard Bexley is a true Bexley bloke (books are units). Due to their polar world views they could not possibly share just one executive assistant so Lucy Hutton (Gamin) and Joshua Templeton (Bexley) found themselves sharing an exceedingly shiny office on the 10th floor.

 What are these Hating Games all about? For a start, they are childish and, as Lucy admits “dreadfully immature”. They are conducted mostly in silence, like the Mirror Game, every move Lucy makes is mirrored by Joshua on an ever so slight time delay. Then there is theHR game where one reports the other for some real or perceived  infraction. Even the HR lady is fed up to the back teeth with the pair of them.

They hate each other then do they? Hmm, do they really? By page 50 Lucy is having/enjoying a Joshua dream where they are playing an altogether different game!

Back to daytime reality, the co CEOs announce that a brand new position is coming up for grabs, it has the grand title of “Chief Operating Officer” (yes, COO). It is open to outside candidates but Joshua and Lucy are both encouraged by their respective CEOs to apply, the expectation being that one of them would be successful. 
Big problem! 
The loser would be working for the winner, a thought that neither can bear.
This, then was to be the biggest and most important game of all!

I really enjoyed the first part of the book, very witty, very funny and the antagonism between the pair of them is so well described that it isn't difficult to imagine such silly little antics happening in real life. 

The middle part focuses on the process of Lucy admitting to herself that she is falling for Josh (by now, he is Josh).  I did get a bit fed up with her drooling over his amazing body. I also got a bit tired of hearing about her tiny stature, it was mentioned so often that I began to wonder if she were a Little Person, but no, she is 5 foot tall, a respectable enough height which doesn't really warrant all the girly "I'm so tiny" references. 
Then there were some very long, very tedious conversations between the pair of them, I would have preferred it if they had been a lot less chatty!

The final part became a lot more interesting again and the humour returned, I don't want to risk a spoiler so I will simply say that Josh has a secret! Of course, Lucy discovers this under somewhat embarrassing conditions - and that is all I’m saying!
One odd little thing, there is no mention of country of setting, and though the author is Australian, I’m pretty sure it is set “somewhere in America”. The clues are in the terminology, we Aussies, Kiwis, Brits and other English speaking readers do not call our mothers “Mom” nor do we shop at a “drug store,” and we no longer record our body temperatures using the Fahrenheit scale, I reckon these are pretty convincing clues.
An enjoyable book with some really good qualities that makes it suitable for holiday reading; it is funny; it requires no brain effort, and most importantly it is highly entertaining. 

Review copy provided by Hachette Australia.

About the Author

Sally Thorne lives in Canberra, Australia and spends her days writing funding submissions and drafting contracts (yawn!) so it's not surprising that after hours she climbs into colorful fictional worlds of her own creation. Sally believes that romance readers are always searching for intensity in their next favorite book - and it isn't always so easy to find. The Hating Game is her first novel. (via publisher)





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