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Posts from the ‘Australian Women Writers’ 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”.

#Novella 2022 Elizabeth Jolley



Quick Scan:

  1. The story is about a woman (“Weekly”)
  2. who works cleaning houses for people
  3. ..but who has a life long wish.
  4. Strong point: tension
  5. Ms Jolley creates tension in the story because the reader
  6. WANTS to know what the wish is!
  7. Strong point: relatable character
  8. The major character Margarite Morris is relatable.
  9. Ms Jolley creates  vulnerability in her  character by 
  10. …giving her a burning desire for something.
  11. Will this desire overcome “Weekly” and
  12. …drive her to extremes…to a disaster?
  13. Strong point: structure
  14. Ms Morris’s life revolves.
  15. The story is not in chronological order.
  16. Just like many women…while busy cleaning house your thoughts drift
  17. off and “Weekly” revisits her  family situation,
  18. siblings, and her clients
  19. …on Claremont Street.



  1. I enjoyed the wit and life lessons Ms Jolley revealed in Margarite.
  2. She is lonely and emotionally alienated from their surroundings.
  3. Margarite lives in an imaginatively friendlier world
  4. ….saving her money for her big wish.
  5. Ms Jolley also describes how
  6. “She is trapped.”
  7. She was overcome by the unfairness in the world.” (pg 154)
  8. The reader is waiting for the moment when “Weekly”
  9. …will break the unchangeable pattern that is her life.
  10. This novella really packs a lot into a short space.
  11. It is dense enough to allow the reader to
  12. fully inhabit another world,
  13. …but short enough to be read in one sitting.
  14. What’s not to love?
  15. #MustRead

#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


#Novella nr 3: NovNov – AusReadingMonth 2021



  1. I started reading the complete works of Theas Astley during
  2. #AusReadingMonth in 2017
  3. …and have finished 13/17!
  4. Finally I found a copy of Beachmasters @
  5. That book is NOT easy to come by!
  6. Collected Short Stories (1997)
  7. ….also a very difficult or very expensive book to acquire!



  1. Girl with a Monkey (1958)
  2. A Descant for Gossips (1960)
  3. The Well Dressed Explorer (1962)                     Miles Franklin winner
  4. The Slow Natives (1965)                                    Miles Franklin winner
  5. Boat Load of Home Folk (1968)
  6. The Acolyte (1972)                                             Miles Franklin winner
  7. A Kindness Cup (1974)
  8. An Item from the Late News (1982)
  9. Beachmasters (1985) 
  10. It’s Raining in Mango (1987)
  11. Reaching Tin River (1990) 
  12. Vanishing Points (1992)
  13. Coda (1994)
  14. The Multiple Effects of Rainshadow (1996)  Miles Franklin long/shortlist
  15. Drylands (1999)                                           Miles Franklin winner

Short stories


Quick Scan:

  1. Coda examines the despair of old age.
  2. Thea Astley is a truth-teller about  becoming an “aged” misfit in society.
  3. Strong point: Ms Astley is still able to cut through
  4. …the tragedy with a sharp literary wit.
  5. Occasionally the narrative is interrupted by stories plucked from the
  6. Australian newspapers:
  7. “…there has been an alarming increase in so-called
  8. ...’granny-dumping’ throughout the country.” (Condamine Examiner, 16 Jan 1992)


Character:   Kathleen Hackendorf

  1. Born 1920s, no real ambition except get out of Townsville!
  2. We see her sitting in a tacky Mall at a plastic table under a fig tree
  3. drinking her coffee as she contemplates life and her grammatical losses:
  4. “I’m losing my nouns!”
  5. Daughter, Shamrock, wants her mother on a shelf like a cracked doodad.
  6. Son, Brian, a financial schemer in his second marriage has no time for his mother.
  7. Both have sold Kathleen’s house out from under her and put down the dog.
  8. BFF …Kathleen at least has her dotty dear friend Daisy
  9. Only trouble is ….Daisy is dead.



  1. I hope I’ve given you just a taste of
  2. …what you can expect in this book.
  3. Read as Kathleen wonders when the buzz went out of her she is
  4. “…rooting about for words in the old handbag of her years.” (pg 188)
  5. Weak point: I found the pages devoted to Brian’s
  6. “crackpot stratagems” (pg 106) too long.
  7. It ruined the mood of the story about the aging Kathleen!
  8. Weak point: In the end, expected some fireworks from Ms Astley
  9. …but Kathleen’s life story seemed to just fizzle out.
  10. Again, I am a fan of Thea Astley and find that some of her
  11. later books lack the punch of  her best books
  12. The Slow Natives, The Acolyte, Boat Load of Home Folk and
  13. A Descant for Gossips.
  14. #MildlyDisappointed

#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 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”.

#Fiction The Yield



  1. Language shapes our thinking.
  2. Indigenous languages see the world in particular ways.
  3. There are three stories:
  4. Poppy Albert – built a dictionary of his language
  5. Granddaughter August –  returned home for his funeral
  6. Reverend Ferdinand Greenleaf – defender of
  7. ….“the decent Natives whom I have lived amongst”


Strong point:  

  1. Each narrative has a distinct writing style…remarkable!
  2. The ways that the author uses words, sentence structure
  3. …and sentence arrangement all work together
  4. to establish mood, images.


Strong point:  

  1. A sentence in chapter 6 struck a nerve.
  2. Thinking about all the people
  3. who have died in USA due to Covid-19.
  4. How the families must now cope with such grief and loss.
  5. …Ms Winch captures the moment for me:
  6. “…And just like that the home became just a house…”


  1. Albert:  40% of the book
  2. What does your this character want in the story?
  3. Determined to answer the call of the spirits (ancestors)
  4. urging him to remember. (Prosperous Mission)
  5. – personal narrative about family  told in the form of
  6. …definitions of aboriginal words.


  1. Rev. Greenleaf: 23% of the book
  2. What does your this character want in the story? 
  3. Determined to set the record straight
  4. …as to what happened at the Prosperous Mission.
  5. Rev. Greenleaf mentions  it was
  6. “not the sentiments that
  7. divided us…but the words.” (pg 148)
  8. Central in the book is the…
  9. importance of the Albert’s dictionary.


  1. August: 37% of the book
  2. What does your this character want in the story?
  3. Determined to honor her grandfather Albert (Poppy)
  4. …and save ancestral lands from a mining company.



  1. To be honest….the book was OK.
  2. I enjoyed  2 narratives:
  3. Poppy’s dictionary and Rev. Greenblatt’s letters.
  4. August? 
  5. Ms Winch writes with great insight of the
  6. unraveling of  August…when exposed to loss.
  7. She has made some mistakes when her
  8. life seems to be careening out of control.
  9. But I felt the “unraveling” was a bit too lengthy.
  10. August keeps  floundering around in their own distress
  11. …until chapter 33 when she finally decides to stay with her family.
  12. The last 9 chapters were full of action
  13. …and August’s new found purpose.

#AWW2020 Wild Sea: a history of the southern ocean

  • Author:  Joy McCann
  • Title: Wild Sea: a history of the southern ocean  (258 pg)
  • Published: 2018
  • Genre: non-fiction
  • Rating: C+
  • Trivia:  2019 Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) longlist
  • List of Challenges 2020
  • Monthly plan
  • #AWW2020   @AusWomenWriter


The Southern Ocean:

  1. Solo sailors call it ‘the South’, as if to emphasize its alien difference.
  2. The Southern Ocean is a place most of us have never been to
  3. …and never wish to visit.
  4. It is a realm of cold grey skies and raging winds
  5. …that eternally circulate round the bottom of the world.


Antartic Circumpolar Ocean Current:



Ch 1 Ocean – continental drift

  1. Pangaea –> current pattern of continents –> creation of oceans
  2. The continents  don’t change or move independently
  3. …but are transported by the shifting tectonic plates.




Ch 2  Winds

Clipper Route…. took advantage of the Roaring Forties and Furious Fifties winds….92 days London — Sydney 1862.




Ch 3  Coast

Located in the southern Indian Ocean off the eastern coast of Africa and just north of Antarctica are the Kerguelen Islands. A French territory, this island group (known as Îles de la Desolation in French) is considered to be one of the most isolated places on Earth.  (…2 little white dots!)



Ch 4  Ice     

  1. To sail from the Southern Ocean towards the open waters of the Ross Sea you have  to push through the ice a number of times….an ice barrier 100 miles wide.
  2. As the Southern Ocean is dominated by strong westerly winds it encourages a clockwise route.
  3. Antartica is only accessible for a few weeks in summer (January-February).
  4. By March ships risk being trapped in sea ice until the next spring.
  5. The ice begins to close in trapping you for the winter
  6. ….an experience no one is likely to survive.



Ch 5  Deep

  1. The ‘twilight zone is formally known as the dysphotic zone.
  2. Below 1000 meters lies the midnight zone…complete darkness.



Ch 6  Current

  1. ANIMATION of Antarctic Bottom Water
  2. A remarkably detailed animation of the movement of the
  3. …densest and coldest water in the world around Antarctica.
  4. The whale  is the totem of the Mirning people (Ngargangurie)



Ch 7   Convergence

  1. The Southern Ocean is no longer simply a remote space devoid of human habitation.
  2. The Earth is dependent upon the ocean’s heartbeat of seasonal ice
  3. …its carbon-filled lungs and slow circulation of its deep currents.
  4. Ocean covers 80 per cent of the Southern Hemisphere.
  5. Australia sits at an ocean cross-roads.
  6. Changes in the southern oceans may also alter the
  7. ….climate processes that control rainfall over Australia.
  8. We need to understand the influence of the
  9. …southern oceans on climate and sea levels.
  10. This book is a good place to start!
  11. #Bravo Joy McCann



  1. Detailing a mysterious realm that’s as vital to our existence as the air we breathe.
  2. Wild Sea: a history of the southern ocean
  3. is instructive, covering an area of knowledge that receives very little press.
  4. As the title says …it is a history
  5. …and Joy McCann uses many 19th C references.
  6. I must applaud the author because in her NOTES
  7. …she also  includes many links to websites
  8. …(Kindle edition) with a trove of information.
  9. The only weak point in the book is
  10. ….I was  always tempted to leave the text to often and explore
  11. the links  she provided!
  12. PS:  book contains some beautiful illustrations
  13. ….perfect viewing with Kindle!
  14. (…I never knew an albatross could be so big!! …see foto)
  15. Reading tips:
  16. Roving Mariners: Australian Aboriginal Whalers and Sealers in the Southern Oceans (2012)
  17. Slicing the Silence: Voyaging to Antarctica T. Griffiths (2010)