Tag Archives: Being Jade

THIS WRITING LIFE: Highlight Reads of 2014

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I read so many memorable books this year that it’s hard to choose which were my highlights but I’m going to give it a go, ending with a

Book Hangover Of The Year Award

for the book or series that left me totally bereft and rudderless on completion.

For more information or to buy any of the books, click on the headline or covers.

So… in no particular order, here they are!

Dinner at Rose’s by Danielle HawkinsCover of Dinner at Rose's

I adored this book. It was quirky, romantic and made me laugh and cry. And it featured a hot dairy farmer. Not to be missed Kiwi rural romance. (Hawkins’ second novel, Chocolate Cake For Breakfast, was also a beauty).

the-winter-brideThe Winter Bride by Anne Gracie

The Chance Sisters series has been wonderful so far but The Winter Bride is my favourite. Damaris and Freddy are such great characters. Following their journey to happily ever after was hugely satisfying. Please read this series. It will make your heart sing.

Marina by  Carlos Ruiz ZafónCover of Marina

I can’t rave about this book enough. I’m a huge Zafón fan. His gothic stories captivate from the opening page but for me this is his best. It was mesmerising.  The moment I finished I wanted to go back and read it all over again. Even typing this makes me want to reach for it. Runner-up for Book Hangover of the Year. Yeah, it was that good.

being-jadeBeing Jade by Kate Belle

A riveting, complex and beautifully written tale of love, betrayal, tragedy, and the difference between love and sex. What a talent Belle is.

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontzodd-thomas

Oh, this was fun. Spooky, quirky and perfectly paced. A rollicking ride through our hero Odd Thomas’s most interesting life. With bonus Elvis sightings.

holding-out-for-a-heroHolding Out For A Hero by Amy Andrews

What a hoot! A sexy sportsman hero, a determined heroine and loads of memorable secondary characters. Wish Andrews would hurry up with the sequel.

daughter-of-smoke-and-boneDays of Blood and Starlight and Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

This trilogy (starting with Daughter of Smoke and Bone which I read in 2013) was amazing. The writing is lush, and the world-building and characterisations are first class. Absolute page-turners.

thornwood-houseThornwood House by Anna Romer

I’m a terrible sucker for a gothic story and this Australian-set tale didn’t disappoint. Romer has a distinctive and appealing writing voice, and the romance in this was subtle but very fulfilling. Her next, Lyrebird Hill, is near the top of my to-be-read pile.

Mr Impossible by Loretta Chasemr-impossible

No wonder this romance is considered a classic. It has everything. Great setting, amazing characters, adventurous plot, witty dialogue and a completely gorgeous romance. Not to be missed.

rivers-of-londonRivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Like Harry Potter for grown-ups! Huge fun. I’ve already read the 2nd in this series, Moon Over Soho, and plan to keep going. It’s just too much fun to stop now.

Her Christmas Earl by Anna CampbellHer Christmas Earl

Maybe it was my mood, maybe it’s a result of reading a Christmas themed book on Christmas Eve but this has just shot to the top of my Anna Campbell favourites list. Who’d have thought being locked in a wardrobe could be so much fun?

 

And now for the big one…

My Book Hangover of the Year Award goes to

The Grisha Trilogy:

Shadow and Bone, Siege and Stormand Ruin and Rising

by Leigh Bardugo

Grisha 1.0

I gobbled these books one after the other and was so bereft after finishing this romantic fantasy series it took me nearly two weeks to settle into another book. I missed the characters dreadfully and if it weren’t for my gigantic to-be-read pile I would have gone back to the start and read it all over again. Stunning.

*

What were your highlight reads of 2014? I’d especially love to hear which one gave you the biggest book hangover so I can check it out myself. Unlike other hangovers, book ones are good for us!

 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Kate Belle

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Hello Feasters! I’m super excited because today we have the author of one of the best reads of the year on the blog.

But before I get into rave-land, let’s have some Sydney Swans news. Oh, my darling boys are really giving it to them now. Last Saturday we shorted out ladder leaders Port Power in a magnificent display of footy wizardry, leaving us still nicely perched at third. Rah! Speaking of nicely perched, in Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news, Jim and I combined well inAuthor Kate Belle the first round of our club’s Foursomes Championships to be sitting as the nett leaders. Can we hang on to win? Stay tuned!

Now on to today’s guest.

Kate Belle took many of us on a trip down memory lane with her debut novel, The Yearning, a read I enjoyed immensely. So when her publicist contacted me with an offer of a review copy of her second novel, Being Jade, I leapt at it. What a story! What writing! From the opening page I was mesmerised. Being Jade was fascinating and heartbreaking and so much more.

Seriously, you have to read it.

BEING JADE

Being Jade by Kate BelleA tragic death. A family divided. One truth can set them free.

Banjo Murphy is killed on the night he finally musters the courage to walk away from his wife Jade after twenty five years of repeated infidelities. In the aftermath, Banjo is bewildered to discover he still exists, but death has placed an invisible wall between him and his beloved family. In despair he watches Jade collapse into deep depression and his daughters, Lissy and Cassandra, struggle with their unexpected loss.

Lissy is tortured by guilt and the mysteries surrounding her father’s death. What compelled Banjo to leave the night he died? Why won’t Jade speak about what happened? In spite of their volatile relationship, Lissy believes her parents’ love to be enduring, but sensible Cassandra sees things differently. When Cassy discovers a sketch book chronicling Jade’s extra-marital affairs, the truth of their parents’ relationship begins to unfold and Lissy’s loyalties are divided.

Searching for answers, Lissy contacts Jade’s ex-lovers, unaware her father’s spirit watches as they visit. Unable to let go of his one true love, he aches to know that Jade loved him above all others. Banjo is taken on a journey of discovery through Jade’s memories as the lovers unveil long hidden secrets about her affairs. But the mystery remains, frustrating Banjo and Lissy, until Lissy’s questioning leads her to an explosive truth. One that will finally set her family free.

Did I mention you should read this book? You should. Like, really. Which means you’ll need to buy it and you can do that right now with a quick trip to your favourite book store or a few clickety-clicks of your mouse.

For the paperback try Booktopia, Bookworld, Dymocks, Angus & Robertson, QBD The Bookshop, Boomerang Books, Fishpond, Collins Booksellers or your local independent. For the ebook, try Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, or JB Hi-Fi.

Still not sure? Read the opening chapter. You’ll be hooked I promise!

Now please give Kate a big Feasty welcome and enjoy!

Instant Human – Just Add Coffee…

Hi Cathryn and readers – thanks for having me back on Friday Feast.

When I visited last year I gave you the Big Effort High Reward Heirloom Recipe – Great Auntiecoffee meme 1 - resized Flo’s Christmas Pudding. This required significant time, a fair bit of alcohol (both in the recipe and cook) and sticky hands. I thought I’d take it a bit easier on you this time around by sharing one of my FAVOURITE combinations in the whole world – caffeine and cake.

I’m a bona fide coffee addict. If I don’t have my coffee by about 11am I find it difficult to speak. I’m dependent on that early morning caffiene shot to function. I also have a penchant for desserts. Cakes, pastries, puddings, tarts – I’m not too fussed as long as it’s full of carbohydrate and sugar. But the very, very best in life is when the two are combined.

coffe meme 2I used to work in Melbourne CBD, at the Paris end, and discovered the Treasury Cafe nestled beneath the treasury building near Parliament. When I first walked in I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. A loooong glass counter laden with every kind of cake, tart, pudding, pastry you could imagine. Glazed apricot and cherry Danishes shone under the light of the counter, clouds of cream topped jam lamingtons the size of a man’s palm, summer yellow custard tarts, glorious wedges of dark chocolate mud cake and butterscotch fudge dripped over fluffy sticky date puddings. My mouth waters at the memory.

More often than not I left empty handed only because I couldn’t choose which sweet morsel to indulge in.coffee meme 3

Inspired by Treasury Cafe’s dessert cabinet, I went through a period of frenzied baking and rediscovered a promotional Nescafe coffee table recipe book I’d won years ago featuring – yep, you guessed it – coffee desserts. I have a few favourites in this book but nothing quite beats the cappuccino cheesecake. The recipe calls for instant coffee but I say Pfft to that! Brewed coffee is the only coffee worthy of a good dessert, so I amended the recipe to make sure the end result had the kick I looked for in this gorgeous cappuccino cheesecake.

Cappuccino Cheesecake

Cappuccino Cheesecake

Before you begin, brew yourself some fresh coffee, pour a cup and leave the rest to cool while you read your copy of Being Jade (like how I slipped that in??). Oh, and leave 500g of cream cheese on the bench to come to room temperature. If you’re able to stop after a couple of chapters you’ll need to head to the kitchen and find ingredients for the cheesecake crust:

•             100g mild-coffee biscuits

•             75g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

•             ¼ cup (70g) packed dark brown sugar

•             A pinch of nutmeg

•             40g hot, melted unsalted butter

To make the crust finely grind the biscuits (I use my mother’s method – chuck them in an empty cereal bag and beat them to death with a rolling pin). Mix in the chopped chocolate, brown sugar and nutmeg then bind it all together with the melted butter until the crumbs stick together. Press the mixture into the base of a 19cm springform pan, flattening it with the bottom of a glass. Put the pan in the fridge for 20 -30 minutes.

Pick up your book and read just a couple more pages…

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees then get to phase 1 of the filling:

•             500g low fat cream cheese (or be brave and go full fat if you want the full flavour!)

•             ½ cup sugar

•             1 tablespoon plain flour

•             ¼ cup strong brewed coffee (for real caffeine addicts you can also add 1 tablespoon of finely ground coffee – YEAH!)

•             1 teaspoon vanilla extract

•             2 large eggs

Blend cream cheese and sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer. Beat in flour, then add brewed coffee, ground coffee (if you dare), and vanilla until combined. Beat in eggs one at a time, make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl, until the mixture is smooth.

Pour filling over the cooled crust, place the cheesecake on a tray covered with a baking sheet and put in the middle of the oven to cook 45 minutes until the top is browning, puffed and cracking at the edges. Take it out to cool for 15 minutes, but leave the oven on while you make the frothy cappuccino topping.

Topping:Cappuccino Cheesecake

•             ¾ cup light sour cream (I reckon full fat’s better)

•             1 tablespoon sugar

•             1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk the ingredients together in a medium bowl and pour over warm cheesecake, spreading to cover it completely. Bake until the topping is set, about 10 minutes.

You could probably squeeze in a few more pages here.

Cover the baked cheesecake with gladwrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Before serving (with brewed coffee, of course!) shave a little dark chocolate over the top to decorate. Devour as you finish off Being Jade –  or, if you’re feeling more generous, share it with friends over afternoon tea or dinner and watch how animated your guests become after they’ve eaten it!

GIVEAWAY! 

Oh, Kate, that sounds divine! Hard to go past good cheesecake. Hard to go past good coffee too. And this combines them in one. Bliss!

Okay, my Feasty lovelies, for your chance to win a signed copy of Being Jade, what’s your favourite bit of cheesiness? I’m going to get a bit “out there” and suggest this song from the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest. Teo from Belarus singing… Cheesecake. Ha!

But perhaps you’ll be more traditional and suggest a slice of brie, the tv show Happy Days or even a spot of dad dancing. Whatever your fancy, cheese away and you could WIN!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, AEST 24th June 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Kate and her fabulous books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using the handle @ecstasyfiles, Goodreads and The Reading Room.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Sue who has won a copy of Kate’s brilliant new novel, Being Jade. Thanks to everyone for getting cheesy with us. Hope to see you again soon!