Category Archives: Book Reviews

Joy Dettman’s Woody Creek Series: A review and a sad goodbye.

tying threads

I have just finished reading the last book in an enthralling series by Australian writer, Joy Dettman.

I was lucky enough to be sent the first five books last year and took my time reading them, devouring each word and transitioning seamlessly onto the next book in the series, and then waited VERY impatiently for the next instalment.  When Pan Macmillan advised the next book was soon to be released I jumped at the chance to get a review copy sent to me. I was so excited to read it and so upset to learn it was to be the last in this series.

It took awhile to become reacquainted with the characters, because by the sixth book there are so many of them! 

Settling in to the book, I decided that if it was the last book, surely all loose ends would be tied up in a nice neat bow for me. After all, the book is even called The Tying of Threads. I had even predicted what would happen to most of the characters. But I was so very wrong and the end of the book left me crying for more. MORE!

How dare she stop writing. What happens now? Am I left to write some hideous fan-fiction just to finish these stories for my own satisfaction. *sigh*

The Woody Creek series starts in rural Victoria in 1923 with the first book, Pearl in a Cage. While reading that first book, every old shack in the rural properties I drive past everyday became Gertrude’s house. I loved that old lady.

These books are not my usual style. When I first started reading, the story reminded me of Virginia Andrews’ books that I read as a teen, with family secrets, a touch of incest, betrayal and hideous relatives. But Dettman’s characters are so easy to relate to and lovable and believable, easily and quickly setting her high above Andrews.

The familiarity of the settings and the Australian voice made these books even more enjoyable and my almost obsessive search for the real Woody Creek was a touch insane. Knowing full well that this small rural town is just a fictional place made up of every rural town you have ever been to.

Joy Dettman was born in Echuca and the real life details of Melbourne and surrounding rural towns in the book are written with a local knowledge. I really wanted Woody Creek to be Riddell’s Creek, which is very close to where I live and even if Jenny caught a bus from Greensborough back to Woody Creek and the bus went through Kilmore, thus disproving my Riddells/Woody Creek theory unless the bus route was seriously inefficient, I don’t care. Woody Creek will always be Riddells Creek to me even if the evidence points to Echuca. – See what I mean? I’m obsessed with this fictional town being real.

Anywhooo. My slipping grasp of reality aside, I LOVED these books. I loved the characters and the intertwined stories and the terribly tangled family tree that grows more and more tangled with each new novel. Thankfully Dettman includes a family tree at the front of the book to remind us who belongs to who.

This final novel begins in the late 1970′s and gallops to it’s end in this new millennium and I see why Dettman thought it was time to put Woody Creek and it’s inhabitants to bed for good. but I don’t have to be happy about it. *grumpy face*.

The only thing that pleases me now is finding out that Joy Dettman has eight earlier books that I have yet to read! All the yays!

The Woody Creek Series includes:

Pearl In A Cage

Thorn on the Rose

Moth to the Flame

Wind in the Wires

Ripples on a Pond

The Tying of Threads

As well as being available as proper hold in your hands and curl up and read books, they are also available on iTunes and Kindle. I have been sending them to my mum and she is also loving the series.

I give each book in this series an easy five stars. Thoroughly recommended reading.

 

 

 

Sugar Free Baking – Cookbook Giveaway

 

This giveaway is now closed. The original winner did not reply to the winning email. I have redrawn and the new winner is Julie Asher. Julie has been emailed. sfb title

I was given this gorgeous book to try out.

It is full of yummy, healthy recipes packed with whole foods and no refined sugar.

The book is written by the lovely Nicole from The Happy Parent Project

What I love about Nicole’s approach to sugar free is her use of natural sugars to replace the over processed bleached white stuff that we’re all used to. I’ve seen other sugar free people shy away from all sugars including all those yummy natural sweet things. It’s just not a life worth living without honey, honey!

I chose to bake the Banana and Chocolate muffins because yum!

sfb5

Ingredients

2 ripe bananas, mashed
2 Tb honey
1 egg
3 Tb coconut butter
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup self raising gluten free flour
1/2 cup flaked quinoa
1/2 cup dark organic chocolate
1/4 cup milk of your choice

sfb2

 

Method

1. Pre-heat oven to 180˚C
2. Grease muffin tins
3. Mix together banana, honey, egg, milk
and coconut butter
4. Break chocolate into pieces
5. Add dry ingredients and chocolate to
wet ingredients and mix gently
6. Spoon into muffin tins
7. Bake for 10-15 mins or until muffins
spring back to the touch
8. Cool for 10 minutes before removing
from pan.sfb3 sfb4

Lick the spoon. ALWAYS lick the spoon.

Here’s an excerpt from the book’s press release, which sums up what the book is all about better than I could:

“SFB is the healthy baking learner guide for busy Mums. Mums these days are so aware of the need to feed their family healthy and nutritious breakfasts and snacks but they struggle to know where to start in making them. SFB has 30 exquisitely photographed full colour recipes that are refined sugar/ wheat/ dairy/ gluten and soy free. There are 8 pages of handy charts and tips which guide Mums on the rules of baking without refined sugar and flour, and the alternatives they can use. To supercharge their baking Mums will also learn how to pump up their recipes with immune boosting and calming whole foods as well as tips on how to make the transition to healthy eating for their family without any fuss or pain”

I love the charts. It means I can easily change up the ingredients of my current everyday recipes to make them healthier just by looking at the chart to see my alternatives.

The book is FULL of the most mouth watering recipes. I cannot wait to try Mint Chocolate chip Ice cream! or Raw Berry Cheesecake! OMG Yum!!!

I have one of these delicious books to give away.

The winner will receive the proper real hold-it-in-your-hands book AND the e-book.

Simply leave a comment below. All comments go into the draw. The winner will be chosen at random on Saturday 1st March.

Winner will be notified by email and will need to reply with their postal address within 48 hours or I will chose another winner.

If you simply cannot wait you can buy the books here.

 

 

Baby Boomers, Bellies and Blood Sugars

BELLIES FRONT COVER

When I was told about this book I was excited and ordered a review copy immediately.

Although this book is targeted at baby boomers, which I am not.  I am insulin resistant and this book has really helped me understand what that all means. How my body processes (or doesn’t process) sugar and the insulin spike that comes with it and how to manage that with food.

It has changed the way I eat. I’m now having omelettes for breakfast instead of what used to be my daily breakfast of Weetbix, natural yoghurt and fruit. I thought I was oh so healthy. That is a healthy breakfast, but not for me. The spike in insulin caused by that breakfast caused me to be hungry and crave more carbs and sugar. More, more, more. My days were spent snacking endlessly until a carb filled dinner.

Since reading this book, the changes I have made in my diet have left me feeling full, satisfied and healthy. My husband says my mood has improved and I feel great.

The book is full of simple no nonsense facts. Like, did you know there were three teaspoons of sugar in a slice of bread? Even wholemeal bread! And it also debunks some commonly held beliefs about sugar, carbs and cholesterol. Very educational.

Without jumping on any sugar quitting bandwagons or following fad diets, this book has made all the difference to how I eat, and how I feel. Without depriving me of my evening glass(es) of wine.

It also includes some awesome recipes and beautiful food photography.

Definitely worth checking out if you are insulin resistant, have type 2 diabetes or know someone that does.

A Corner of White: Book Review and Giveaway

“Perfectly strange and absolutely comical and heartfelt … Jaclyn Moriarty is one of the most original writers we have.”  Markus Zusak, award winning Australian author.

When I have time to read, I tend to chose action thrillers or murder mysteries or something as far away from kids television as humanly possible. Fantasy is not my genre of choice. However, I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to the next one in the trilogy. Read on and you can win one of three copies of A Corner of White for yourself.

Jaclyn Moriarty, author of best-selling young adult series The Ashbury/Brookfield Books, writes beautifully. Which seems to come naturally because I’ve read bits of her blog and her voice is light and humorous and warm and lovely.

Here is the blurb:

Madeleine Tully lives in Cambridge, England, the World – a city of spires, Isaac Newton and Auntie’s Tea Shop. 

Elliot Baranski lives in Bonfire, the Farms, the Kingdom of Cello – where seasons roam, the Butterfly child sleeps in a glass jar, and bells warn of attacks from dangerous Colours.

They are worlds apart – until a crack opens up between them: a corner of white – the slim seam of a letter.

Elliot begins to write to Madeleine, the Girl-in-the-World – a most dangerous thing to do for suspected cracks must be reported and closed.

But Elliot’s father has disappeared and Madeleine’s mother is sick. Can a stranger from another world help to unravel the mysteries in your own? Can Madeleine and Elliot find the missing pieces of themselves before it is too late?

A mesmerising story of two worlds; the cracks between them, the science that binds them and the colours that infuse them.

It took me a while to get into the book but I did start reading it when I was ridiculously stressed and busy and I couldn’t get my head around the new characters I was being introduced to. I put the book down until my head was in a calmer place and then started again and this time I was hooked. What I thought was a slow start was actually nothing to do with the book but everything to do with my head.

I thought the letter exchange thing might be a bit contrived,  a bit Lake House. But it wasn’t like that, it was much cooler and more magical. Much more parallel world than time travelling letter box and has potential for much more in the next two books.

I love the Kingdom of Cello where Elliot lives. I love that winter can last an hour or weeks. That summer can happen in an  afternoon and that a wave of red can have the townspeople of Bonfire declaring their love for their neighbour and getting all romantic. Then the next wave of Red can have them on a mission to complete unfinished business or start new ventures. Gym memberships would sell out like hot cakes during a fourth level grade 6(d) Red.

Some of the colour attacks are not quite as amusing and Elliot believes his Dad was abducted by a Purple that also killed his uncle.

This book is for adults instead of Moriarty’s usual younger readers but it still contains an innocence I would expect in a young adult novel.

It’s fantasy without the elves and goblins and with one foot planted in the reality of Cambridge, England. It’s light and humorous, imaginative and whimsical and just.. lovely. I really want to read the next two books right now. I’m not good at waiting.

A Corner of White, the first in the Colours of Madeleine trilogy is released on September 18th.

Win yourself a copy of the book here. Just tell me what your favourite colour is. Simple as that.
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