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Posts from the ‘#AusReadingMonth’ Category


#AusReadingMonth 2021 Wrap-up post

  1. It has been a long summer…
  2. filled with climate change events COP26  (fires, hurricanes, floods)
  3. ….USA finally ending a 20 yr war….(…exit was messy)
  4. ….battle to control Covid #DeltaVariant  and now
  5. …a new #OmicronVariant continues!!
  6. I always look forward to #AusReadingMonth2021
  7. @bronasbooks (This Reading Life)
  8. ….and want to thank her for doing a wonderful
  9. …job hosting and reviewing!


 For #AusReadingMonth2021 I read:

  1. Coda – Thea Astley (1994) (novella)  REVIEW
  2. The Year of Living Dangerously – ( 224 pg) Chris Koch (1978)  REVIEW 
  3. Always Add Lemon – Danielle Alvarez  REVIEW
  4. Vertigo: A Novella – (144 pg) Amanda Lohrey (2008) (novella)  REVIEW
  5. The Newspaper of Claremont Street – Elizabeth Jolley (1981) (novella)  REVIEW
  6. In Praise of Veg – Alice Zaslavsky  REVIEW
  7. Australian Food – Bill Granger  REVIEW
  8. Basics to Brilliance – Donna Hay (cookbook)  REVIEW
  9. Tea and Sympathetic Magic – Tansy Rayner Roberts (novella)  REVIEW
  10. I’m Ready Now – (156 pg) Nigel Featherstone (novella)  REVIEW



#AusReadingMonth 2021 Cookbook nr 4

  • Author: Danielle Alvarez
  • Title: Always Add Lemon
  • Published: 2020
  • Trivia: Danielle Alvarez is the chef behind Sydney restaurant Fred’s.
  • Monthly reading plan
  • #NonFicNov 2021
  • #AusReadingMonth2021 @bronasbooks
  • #AWW 2021


Quick Scan:

  • Of all the cookbooks I review for #AusReadingMonth 2021
  • Danielle Alvarex is the chef with the most impressive credentials!
  • Born to a food-loving Cuban family in Miami.
  • She trained at some of the most prestigious restaurants in California:
  • The French Laundry, then Boulettes Larder and finally Chez Panisse.
  • She brought these culinary talents with her to Sydney in 2016.
  • Ms Alvarez asked her to head up and design the kitchen the new  restaurant, Fred’s.



  • Ms Alvarez sets the cooking bar very high!
  • I thought I would dip into her book and select a recipe and have
  • ….a meal quickly on the table.
  • Little did I know, the author expects the reader to be a bit more serious!
  • The book is full of beautiful, culinary inspiration,
  • …but I found the recipes somewhat unapproachable.
  • I became anxious just thinking of cooking Ms Alvarez’s suggestions.
  • There are so many ways to go wrong.
  • Funny, I am the only one in the kitchen…and eating my food
  • …but still I feel judged (by myself) when I create a disaster.
  • Looking at the photo’s of perfect food….by a master chef
  • …intimidates me.


Personal Challenge:

  • At first glance ….these recipes look  a little too time-consuming.
  • They feel more suited for a restaurant professional.
  • The language felt complicated, ingredients that I had to look
  • up in the culinary dictionary!
  • Every time I decided to cook
  • something I was discouraged halfway reading the instructions!
  • I put the book away for weeks….just postponing the inevitable.



  • Section: salads (17 recipes) I’m making the first 7 salads.
  • As you can see many ingredients are not available for this mere mortal
  • …and that is what makes many delicious recipes feel “unapproachable”
  • I will improvise and do my best!


  1. Beetroot (yellow)persimmons (not available)  – feta, honey, pistachio nuts and
  2. Aleppo chili flakes ( not available..use ordinary flakes)


  1. Update: 
  2. Best replacement or persimmon is a peach or nectarine.
  3. It is Autumn and…these fruits are NOT is season.
  4. I just used thinly sliced oranges.
  5. Yellow beets..who would have thought!
  6. My first attempt at Danielle Alvarez’s (top-chef) starters in
  7. …her book Always Add Lemon.
  8. No persimmon in my neck of the woods
  9. …so I just used thinly sliced oranges.
  10. This salad takes planning but is delicious.
  11. You would easily pay 12-15 euro for this starter in a restaurant


  1. Fig and goat’s curd salad – smokey paprika vinaigrette
  2. (ingredient for dressing pimentón de La Vera dulce….not available)
  3. Tomato salad with sumac, onions, tahini yoghurt (not avaliable...
  4. I’ll make it with yogurt and sesame paste) – fennel
  5. Tomato and fried crouton salad with olive oil packed tinned tuna – capers
  6. Cucumbers with mustard vinaigrette and dille
  7. Belgian Endive (…radicchio (not available) with bagna cuda
  8. (Ms Alvarez raves about this dipping sauce) and walnut oil
  9. Zucchini with mint, lemon and bottarga
  10. (not available…and it is just as well, sounds vile, see Google)


Strong point:

  • The book is a well-made beautiful book
  • …feels luxurious with high quality paper.
  • So impressed the images that I’ll add the links to the
  • photographer Benito Martin
  • stylist Jessica Johnson
  • …just take a look at their portfolio’s ….creative genius!



Pg 16:  How to dress a salad – Chardonnay and honey vinaigrette

  1. I have NO chardonnay or sherry vinegar.
  2. Substitute:  balsamic vinagar
  3. Substitute: Listau Sherry ….made with grapes grown in the Jerez area of Spain.
  4. Lustau sherry is the industry’s gold standard
  5. a sweet sherry from Pedro Ximenz grapes.
  6. Jury:  unanimous vote…this is a keeper!
  7. Lessons learned: 
  8. I did not know that a salad dressing should marinate 15 min before using!
  9. Always use just-washed hands (not tongs)…you need to feel the dressing coating the leaves!
  10. Taste….more salt? ….more honey?….more vinegar?
  11. Different salad leaves require different amounts of dressing
  12. …bitter radiicchio needs more dressing/salt
  13. …delicate leaf like arugula (rucloa) wants smallest amount of dressing
  14. …gentle touch just to coat them.



  1. Ms Alvarez challenges me again on pg 17 “Salsa Verde”.
  2. Original recipe was too salty for me (capers and anchovies).
  3. If I make this again I would reduce the acid (vinagar or lemon juice) and oil by half!
  4. I would use 1/2 amount of  the “salty elements”
  5. ..and drain the shallots of vinegar and only
  6. add the shallots to the condiment.
  7. I froze  1 TB portions to be thawed in the fridge…worked perfectly.
  8. I TB is thawed within 5 mi…and I used it mixed
  9. into my mashed potatoes!
  10. Jury: Lovely burst of flavor, dille, chives, honey and parsely.



#AusReadingMonth 2021 Cookbook nr 3

  • Author: Alice Zaslavsky
  • Title: In Praise of  Veg
  • Published: 2020
  • Monthly reading plan
  • #NonFicNov 2021
  • #AusReadingMonth2021 @bronasbooks
  • #AWW 2021



  • In Praise of Veg won the 2021 ABIA (@abia_awards)
  • …for the best non-fiction illustrated book.
  • This award is voted on by members of the publishing industry.
  • The longlist is selected by a group of 250 publishers and book-sellers
  • The winner is decided on by an esteemed panel of experts.


Quick Scan:

  • 50 favorite vegetable varieties, offering 150+ recipes.
  • The book is  filled with countless tips on flavor combinations,
  • rule-of-thumb buying/storing/cooking methods,
  • shortcuts, and veg wisdom from over 50 of the world’s top chefs.
  • Strong point: Very Educational
  • ...and I thought I knew enough about veggies…but I learned so much



  • After reading  Basics to Brillance by Donna Hay….on black paper
  • …this book is a joy to open!
  • The book is 70% reading….and 30% recipes.
  • Weak point: recipes lacked imagination….
  • I had the feeling I’d read these cooking suggestions in other books!
  • I did find some very good tips about storing veggies and herbs
  • …but the recipes were a big disappointment.
  • Strong point:  book is a visual delight!
  • Within the pages of In Praise of Veg, the recipes  are refreshingly grouped
  • …together according to the color of each vegetable.
  • Strong point: book is about vegetables but NOT purely plant-based
  • Ms Zaslavsky says:  “… it is a “plant-forward” source of inspiration.”
  • The premise is… “to start with veg and build a dish around it”.

#AusReadingMonth 2021 Cookbook nr 2



  1. Bill Granger is very famous in Australia.
  2. Granger was born to a vegetarian mother and a
  3. father who worked as a butcher.
  4. He lives with his wife Natalie Elliott and their three daughters.
  5. Strong point: the dedication in the book is just so beautiful:
  6. “For Natalie”
  7. Her name might not be above the door,
  8. but the door would never open without her.”


  1. With eighteen restaurants around the world, Bill Granger has spread
  2. the Aussie way of dining far beyond the beaches of Sydney.
  3. There are 5 photo’s of Bill in the book
  4. …how approachable he looks and
  5. …how handsome padding across the beach in his bare feet.
  6. Bill’s crinkly smile is infectious…he makes me believe I can really cook!
  7. I was surprised he is photographed with a coffee and newspaper
  8. instead of a huge glass of wine in the kitchen…like me.


  1. Sydney-style avo toast, was popularized by
  2. Australian chef-restaurateur Bill Granger,
  3. whose early 90s version…toast, mashed avocado, lime, salt, chilli flakes
  4. …has since taken over the world.



  1. Weak point:  font used in the index is too small…or my eyes are too old
  2. Strong point:  I made 1 recipe from each section except BBQ.
  3. I was introduced to at least 8 ingredients I never used before.
  4. This was because Bill Granger makes many Asian influenced dishes…all new to me!
  5. This aspect of the book makes it so exciting to cook with Bill Granger.

Update: 20.11.2021

  1. Leave it to Bill to come up with
  2. the answer to my “Christmas Party” prayers!
  3. I’m hosting a 4 course Christmas dinner for friends.
  4. I love wine with my food….but don’t want to send the guests home
  5. and have them washing the wine and champagne out of their hair the next day
  6. …along with a hangover.
  7. So..Bill gave me  the Negroni Spritz on page 174 (Australian Food).
  8. I’ve modified it to replace:
  9. 100 ml wine –> cold water
  10. 30 ml vermouth –>   juice of one lemon
  11. ice cubes, curl of lemon peel and 40 ml Campari
  12. …small squeeze honey if you like a bit of sweetness!
  13. Absolutely a visual refreshing delight in a wine glass!

#AusReadingMonth 2022 Tansy Roberts


Quick Scan:

  1. Tea and Sympathetic Magic
  2. Miss Mnemosyne Seabourne teams up with a fascinating
  3. spellcracker Mr.  Thornbury to foil the kidnapping of the
  4. Herny Jupiter the Duke of Storm
  5. …and prevent a forced marriage.



  1. Strong point:
  2. Ms Roberts use names
  3. from mythology and the solar system for her characters!
  4. Henry Jupiter  – is a very eligible bachelor, with grand library.
  5. The planet Jupiter’s most iconic feature is a
  6. giant STORM know as the Giant Red spot.
  7. The Duke is wearing “…a bright orange cravat.” (pg 10)
  8. …just like The Giant Red Spot on Jupiter!
  9. Ms Roberts  uses this info to create
  10. “Henry Jupiter, the Duke of Storm”.


  1. Strong point:
  2. Ms Roberts uses lovely names of moons for female characters
  3. Moons circle planets…usually  men in society!
  4. Mnemosyne – moon of Saturn
  5. Europa – moon of Jupiter
  6. Galateamoon of Neptune


  1. Strong point: Ms Roberts does highlight important issues
  2. …that the main character Mnemosyne is passionate about:
  3. A) Rules for men were different than for women...
  4. Duke of Storm enjoys special rituals to meet his demands
  5. “brimming cup of tea and does not have to wait 2 seconds”
  6. ….and he had done nothing to deserve this attention. (pg 10)
  7. “This is the world we live in: one where
  8. B) Ladies traveled by the slow path,
  9. …while gentlemen were allowed short-cuts.” (pg 17)
  10. C) “No one should marry the wrong person.” (pg 39)


  1. Weak point:
  2. the title suggests “magic” but I was so
  3. …disappointed.
  4. The idea of a spellcracker…walking through portals, transforming
  5. a ball into a prickly hedgehog to stop a wedding and throwing
  6. tea cups at a wedding cake to release a captive wedding guest
  7. is NOT my idea of magic.
  8. It is just not.


Last Thoughts:

  1. I decided to read  this novella because I so
  2. enjoyed Girl Reporter by Ms Roberts last year.
  3. I missed a great story idea, a memorable main character
  4. and unique writing style.
  5. IMO this novella is like cotton candy
  6. sickly sweet, all fluff and just melts away.
  7. #IAmNOTIntendedTargetAudience


#AusReadingMonth 2021 Christopher Koch


  • Author: Christopher Koch (1932-2013)
  • Title: The Year of Living Dangerously
  • Published: 1978  (224 pg)
  • Trivia: This book helped Australia to shift its cultural focus from
  • Britain and Ireland toward its increasing engagement with Asia
  • ….and continuing into 21st C (nuclear powered submarines from USA)
  • Trivia: The banned film (1982) version directed by Australian Peter Weir
  • was shown for the first time in 2000 at Jakarta Film Festival.
  • Monthly planning
  • #AusReadingMonth2021   @bronasbooks


Quick Scan:

  1. C. J. Koch’s The Year of Living Dangerously takes its title
  2. from Sukarno’s term for 1965, the year in which the novel takes place.
  3. R. J. Cook, first-person narrator, recounts the events that occurred
  4. during that tumultuous, chaotic year.
  5. In 1965 Sukarno was overthrown (see book published 2020: The Jakarta Method)
  6. and Suharto, a right-wing officer, assumed control of the Indonesian government.
  7. Sukarno’s fate, however, is linked to the fates of the characters:
  8. Guy Hamilton – a correspondent for an Australian news network
  9. Trivia: loosely based on Mr. Koch’s younger brother, Philip.
  10. Billy Kwan – an Australian-Chinese dwarf who is a highly intelligent cameraman
  11. Jill Bryant –  the woman both men love.



  1. This was an amazing book…just stunning!
  2. I saw the movie version in 1980s and didn’t understand any of
  3. the politics in Indonesia and USA’s use of…
  4. The Jakarta Method.
  5. Now I do..and it isn’t a pretty picture for America’s foreign policy.
  6. Has anything changed?? (Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan….and now Taiwan?)
  7. Chris Koch is an excellent writer/journalist and several  intrigues
  8. were weaved seamlessly into the story.
  9. I could not stop reading…..
  10. Billy Kwan is the “spider in the web”
  11. …the Wayang shadow play puppet master!
  12. The ending of the book was genius.
  13. Please, don’t miss this #classic
  14. It is probably waiting for you on the library shelf
  15. …better yet, buy it and support your local bookstore.
  16. #MustRead.



#AusReadingMonth 2021 Cookbook nr 1

  • Author: Donna Hay
  • Title: Basics to Brillance
  • Published: 2016
  • Monthly  plan
  • #NonFicNov 2021
  • #AWW 2021
  • #AusReadingMonth2021   @bronasbooks


Background and authority.

  • Donna Hay (1971)
  • Author of 27 bestselling cookbooks
  • Her books are known for their simple recipes
  • …and beautiful photography.

Identify the intended audience.  

  • Foodies: love her recipes
  • Professionals: irritated that this self starter has become rich and
  • famous by peddling recipes that a child could master.
  • Nancy: not one of Donna Hay’s fans…after reading her book!



  • Strong point:
  • If you love beautiful food photography…this is you book.
  • I am more interested in cooking….and not picture gazing.
  • This coffee table size cookbook is not
  • …something that is easy to use in the kitchen!
  • Strong point:
  • Ms Hay includes handy “notes” in each recipe.
  • Weak point:
  • Many recipes include references to basics…
  • for example: chicken base soup “see basic recipe”
  • or…basil pesto “see basic recipe”
  • …but I wish she would include the
  • page number where the reader can
  • …FIND the ‘basic recipe”. 
  • I lost time and interest searching in  this
  • chunkster of a cookbook!
  • Weak point:
  • Buyer beware!
  • ratio price/quality 
  • 36% of the book is filled with full page food photography
  • 32% recipes (some were spread over 2 pages that easily could have been 1 page)
  • 32 % miscellaneous – glossary, measurements, bio of Ms Hay, Thank-you note and index
  • Weak point:  personal note…all recipes are printed on black paper
  • …depressing and difficult to read!
  • Last thought:  not recommended

#Novella nr 2: NovNov – AusReadingMonth 2021


Quick Scan:

  1. Chapters 1-12  
  2. Introduction characters and backstories
  3. …marriages, childhood, deaths, abandonment.
  4. Chapters 13-16
  5. The tension rises to a boiling point: Gordon (son),
  6. Mother and Levi (Gordon’s lover) are all about to make
  7. a life changing decisions but it
  8. …is unclear to the reader what that will be!
  9. Conflict: should mother just listen to her son’s plans
  10. …or try to stop him from making a grave mistake?
  11. Chapters 17 – 23
  12. The story reaches the climax
  13. ….during Gordon’s 30th birthday dinner celebration.
  14. Chapters 24 – 32
  15. The resolution…each character embarks on their own paths.
  16. ..and perhaps those paths will cross each other in the future
  17. ….at least Nigel Featherstone ends the book on an optimistic note!
  18. Conclusion:
  19. Ending:…feels like the sound of a bell ringing.
  20. #Bravo !!!   Nigel!


  1. Strong point:  Structure – Alternating narrator:
  2. ch 1 Son (Gordon) and  ch 2 Mother (Lynne)…etc
  3. Strong pointThoughts and inner dialogue
  4. 70% of the book is inner dialogue that
  5. raises the emotional level in every scene!
  6. It reveals the truth, the darkness, hopes and dreams
  7. …that are often lost in direct dialogue.
  8. Mother (Lynne) is worried about her son
  9. …but cannot let him notice her concern.
  10. Son (Gordon) feels his heart is torn in half.
  11.  part  for his lover (Levi)  the other part
  12. for his determination to continue with
  13. …the “Year of Living Ridiculously”.


Major theme:  loss, abandonment

  1. In chapter 9 we hear Mother say words that left me puzzled.
  2. Gordon: “Is there anything you need while I’m up the street?
  3. Mother: “No, just make sure you come home.”
  4. Gordon “…of course I’ll come home…”
  5. Mother: “Than that’s all I need.”
  6. As you read Nigel Featherstone  adds layers
  7. with backstories about the characters and their lives.
  8. Only then does this short dialogue between mother and son make sense.



  1. Gordon (Donian, nickname) 29 yr, born 23 October 1981
  2. Levi Greenguard  (Jewish social worker, Gordon’s  lover)
  3. Mother (Lynne)
  4. Eddie (stepfather) – recently deceased
  5. Margie Ardmore (friend of Mother…feels like an aunt for Gordon)
  6. Patric Finn (…just mentioned as mother’s first love)
  7. Minnie and Lenah ( Gordon’s step-sisters)
  8. Ailis Kildare (Lynne’s  mother, from Ireland, died in Hobart 62 yr)
  9. Father – (name?) died 6 months later
  10. Shanie Doyle – G’s childhood friend …followed him from Hobart to Sydney
  11. Delia Canola – Shanie’s fiancée


Best Quote:  chapter 19

  1. “I think birthplace is a matter of DNA.
  2. You can try running from it….
  3. ….but it’s always in you, mapping you out.”



  1. Mother takes a flight from  Hobart, Tasmania to…
  2. Sydney – Gelbe, NSW (inner-city suburb) – Gordon’s appartment
  3. Convict-era cottage on 11 Union Street (polished doorknob) (backstory)
  4. Point Puer (place where Patric Finn made a film)
  5. Battery Point…where Shanie used to live
  6. Battery Point House  – owned by mother Lynne
  7. Gleeson House (1839)  (..the family home Hampton Road, Hobart)
  8. …is about to be sold at an auction…so Mother is visiting her son Gordon.
  9. Sydney apartment (Eddie’s  place at Manly on the Corso)


Title: “I’m Ready Now”

  1. Ch 27 – quote … to bookend the story: 
  2. Mother: “There’s a future in abandonment, so it seems.
  3. I’m ready for it.”
  4. Ch 30 – quote … as Levi leaves he says to Gordon:
  5. “marriage is not out of the question” the future. 
  6. Levi calls for a taxi  and says “Yes, I’m ready now”.

#Novella nr 1: NovNov – AusReadingMonth 2021



  1. Sometimes I search days for a good book
  2. …and sometimes one just falls into my lap!
  3. I ordered this book a year ago.
  4. This year for #AusReadingMonth I am determined to
  5. sweep through my Kindle TBR and read as many Aussie
  6. authors as I can.
  7. Also this review is ….for #NovNov @746Books



  1. Veritigo is a stunner.
  2. Luke and Anna, thirty-something…. decide on a change.
  3. Worn down by city life they flee to a sleepy village by the coast.
  4. One senses that the change of living area is only nothing more than as escape
  5. for a couple who have difficulty communicating.
  6. The neighbours are strange but authentic.
  7. The problem is the drought.


  1. The book felt like a compact box of chocolates.
  2. I ate the first few bonbons (part 1) and
  3. as I continued to  remove the layers (part 2)  of paper
  4. only to come deeper  (part 3) into an exquisitely crafted novella.


  1. Chocolate and this story are
  2. so addictive that one cannot stop reading/eating it.
  3. this book is unputdownable!”


  1. The last layer was one one the best descriptions I’ve
  2. ever read of a bush fire….incredible!
  3. #MustRead
  4.   …absolutely a “coup de coeur”.

After the Count…should have won Walkley Award 2020


  1. When young and fit professional boxer Davey Browne died in the ring
  2. pummeled to death in front of his family and friends…
  3. it was the result of a perfect storm of
  4. …incompetence by members of the boxing fraternity.
  5. For journalist Stephanie Convery it hit home hard.
  6. She was beginning her own serious boxing training
  7. …when she heard the news.
  1. After the Count investigates:
  2. the title fight
  3. the aftermath of David Browne Jr’s death
  4. interrogates the culture and history of boxing
  5. its gender dynamics
  6. the visceral appeal of the ring and
  7. the inherent contradictions of a violent sport
  8. …that refuses to face up
  9. the consequences of that violence.


  1. Strong point: excellent ‘hook’ …hits you with a 1-2 punch
  2. Strong point: excellent introduction revealing the structure of the book.
  1. Strong point:
  2. The very personal perspective written by a woman
  3. ..boxing and trying to come to terms
  4. ..with the fear head injury and permanent brain damage.
  5. …this makes the book tremble
  6. …in my hands (pg 83-84) she must have a CT  and MRI scan.

  1. Strong point:
  2. Ms Convery alternates between x-examination at
  3. inquest (lawyer vs neurosurgeon) with her personal visits to GP
  4.  and hospital for CT scan.
  5. This makes for intense reading that keeps
  6. this reader glued to the page.
  1. Strong point:
  2. Ms Convery…adds her own questions to the narrative:
  3. How many deaths attributed to the boxing sport?
  4. How knocks to the head change the brain?
  5. What is the link between concussions sustained in
  6. contact sports and
  7. CTE (Chronic traumatic encephalopathy)?
  8. This is a neuro-degenerative disease which causes severe and
  9. irreparable brain damage, as a result of repeated head injuries.
  10. Her research reveals the shocking facts.
  11. Eye-opener:
  12. It wasn’t unusual for boxers to break their hands
  13. in fights and to punch on regardless! (pg 76)
  1. Strong pointpg 253-261
  2. The reader follows Ms Convery during
  3. her Fight Night for her final grading
  4. as boxing student at Joe’s Gym.
  5. Just amazing listening to her thoughts as she
  6. prepares herself explaining
  7. ….that with all the knowledge she as
  8. learned during her research for this book about concussion
  9. as she tries to pull herself away from the sport…
  10. …it draws her back somehow.

Last Thoughts;

  1. What a powerful book….I am absolutely bowled over by
  2. Ms Convery’s investigative research, her coverage of the death inquest
  3. and most importantly her conclusions in the last chapter.
  4. Sometimes the shorlisted book is BETTER that the prize winner!
  5. This is the best non-ficton read of 2020!
  6. I guess I’ve saved the best for last!
  7. #MustRead

Books read: