Tag Archives: Young adult novels

FRIDAY FEAST with Beck Nicholas

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Hello, lovely people, and welcome to another fantabulous edition of Friday Feast! Today is very special because we have on a debut Australian author, a book giveaway and a totally slurpilicious recipe. Much cause for celebration!

Unlike a certain beloved football team whose performance in the  AFL Grand Final still makes me want to sob with heartbreak and bewilderment. But enough of the Sydney Swans. Cos, quite frankly, I’m still too upset to talk about it. So, in Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news… well, at least I wasn’t as bad as my football team! Not even close. Although I did send a ball hurtling into a dam. Actually, make that two balls. Oh… Hang on. It was three. Sigh. But I did spot a frill-necked lizard and had a brown snake go slithering across the fairway. Just as a bonus!

Speaking of bonuses, that’s what you’re in for today, so read on.Young Adult author Beck Nicholas

I am absolutely chuffed to welcome Beck Nicholas to Friday Feast and to showcase her debut young adult novel, Fake. Beck hails from Adelaide and has been a long time member of the Romance Writers of Australia, and we’ve caught up at many a conference. I was thrilled when I heard Harlequin would be publishing her first book and even more delighted when I saw the fantastic cover she’d been given. Now it’s wonderful reviews I’m seeing!

Fake is on the shelves now and while it might be marketed at young adult readers, adult readers will be in for a treat too. Take a look.

FAKE

Cover of Fake by Beck NicholasSeventeen-year-old Kath McKenny has a date to the end-of-term party with her since-forever crush. He publicly messaged her to confirm, but there’s been a recent status update: he’s taking the new girl — giggly, pretty, well-developed Lana Elliot — instead.

After being thoroughly humiliated in front of half the school, best friend Chay talks Kath into revenge: a scheme to create the perfect — and very fake — online guy for Lana. Once she falls for him, they’ll show her what it’s like to get brutally dumped.

Everything is going to plan until Kath starts spending more-than-just-friends time with the other new kid in town — Lana’s dreamy older brother, Sebastian. Kath finds herself getting in deep — in love and drowning in guilt, she tries to put an end to her prank, but it’s taken on an unstoppable momentum of its own, with very real consequences.

As her plotting begins to unravel, so do the people Kath thought she knew:
Her mother has a secret online life.
Her father has a whole new family.
Her best friend is barely recognisable.
Her boyfriend has a disturbing hidden past.
And her enemy is more familiar than she knew

Doesn’t that sound a blast? You should buy a copy right now. For the paperback visit most splendiferous online bookstore Booktopia. Also Bookworld, Dymocks, Angus & Robertson, QBD The Bookshop, Collins Booksellers, direct from the publisher Harlequin, or your favourite bookshop or chain store. For the ebook try Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite retailer.

Still not sure? Try this excerpt on for size.

‘Kath! What are you hiding here for?’

I look up, into the frowning face of Chayanne Davy. She’s been my best friend since fourth grade when she cut my finger in a fight over a piece of purple ribbon. She didn’t do blood and promptly fainted, meaning we both spent the rest of the lesson in the nurse’s office. Now, she looks even more pissed than she did then. Her eyebrows, a dozen shades darker than her bleached hair, are lowered in a scowl.

I shrug. ‘This is where we always sit.’

She drops a folder on the damp grass and settles beside me with an exaggerated sigh. ‘But now you’re dating Joel, you need to hang out near the canteen in case he wants to talk to you.’

‘He bought me an ice-cream almost two weeks ago. It’s hardly a commitment.’

‘You’ve finally got Mr Hottie’s attention and now you’re going to blow him off?’

I’m not sure a meet-up at Sweety’s Icecreamery, two doors down from my house, even counts as a date. I shrug again.

Chay flashes me one of her infectious grins. Her bright red lipstick matches her sandals which, combined with tiny cut-off shorts, are completely inappropriate for the chill in the air. ‘So did I imagine the fact that he asked you to the end-of-term party?’

My lips twitch but I refrain from repeating the jig I’d performed in the privacy of my bedroom. ‘Nope.’

Truth be told, for a while I’d worried that I’d dreamed the casual invite to the annual dress-up celebration. I’d been polishing off the remnants of my strawberry shake and the final slurp nearly drowned his words.

Wasn’t that fun? Now go buy. Go on!

Sorted? Excellent. Please enjoy some delicious naughtiness with Beck.

A Little Fakery

I am a regular reader of Friday Feast for the brilliant excerpts (to make my TBR pile groan)and the recipes. Part of the excitement of that call with my first sale was the prospect of at last being a guest myself. Here I am with FAKE on the shelves and my turn in the FF spotlight. Thanks for having me Cathryn (even though we might have a slight disagreement on footy teams – Go you Crows, 2015 for sure!).

There isn’t a lot of cooking in Fake – apart from one horrible experiment when Kath makes her fave lunch of banana and peanut butter warmed on fresh bread. The thought of it actually makes me gag but I remember a friend at school LOVING the combination. Personally I preferred the timeless (but perhaps equally disgusting) potato chip sandwich for my no-mum-around meal.

Although there aren’t many cooking moments, the characters do spend an awful lot of time visiting Sweety’s Icecreamery where they enjoy ice-creams and milkshakes… and a little romance.

Today I’m sharing a recipe inspired by the mint milkshake in the book. It’s is more of a building than cooking one but is super delicious. And you know sometimes it doesn’t hurt to Fake it a little.

Choc-mint Ice-Cream Sandwich

One tub awesome choc mint ice-cream (whole tub not required for dessert)

Choc chip cookies (or buy some)

150g softened butter

1/2 cup caster sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 1/2 cups SR flour

1 cup milk chocolate bits

Method

First, cream butter and sugar. Add in egg and vanilla and beat well. Mix in sifted flour and choc chips, until well combined.  Place heaped teaspoons of mixture onto lined tray, and press gently flat.

Bake at 180C for 10-12 minutes or until golden in colour and slightly gooey.

Choc chip cookies

Choc sauce

200g 70% Cocoa dark chocolate

185ml thickened cream

Break up choc and mix together. Heat in microwave or over double boiler gently, stirring often to combine.

Broken up chocolate ready for melting

Construction

Place dollops of ice-cream between two cookies. Then simply drizzle the warm choc sauce over the top.

Choc-mint Ice-Cream Sandwich

Enjoy!

I’m not sure how many this makes thanks to family scavenging as I cooked but all the components can be enjoyed on their own too.

For a chance to win a signed copy of Fake, comment below to let me know your favourite after school snack or an easy dessert.

 

Thanks, Beck! And how good does that sandwich look? Mmm. I adore mint chocolate so this is right up my alley.

Now, you heard Beck. There’s a…

GIVEAWAY!

Rah! We so adore a giveaway on Friday Feast. It’s such a great way to discover a new author and this giveaway is totally easy-peasy. All you have to do to win a signed paperback copy of Fake is leave a comment sharing your favourite after school snack or easy dessert.

In the interest of playing along, I’m going to divulge one of the snacks I used to sneak in as a teenager: zap a snack-sized tin of corn in the microwave, drain and then stir through one (or many more) of those individually wrapped cheese slices. Zap a bit more until the cheese is melted, then scoff with spoon. Embarrassing to think about now but I loved that mix.

Your turn to share!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 7th October 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Beck and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Twitter using @BeckNicholas.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Shelleyrae who has scored a copy of Beck’s fabulous debut release, FAKE. Thanks so much to everyone who joined in the Friday Feast fun. There were some wonderful after-school snack blasts from the past, as well as some, how shall we say… not for the fainthearted foods mentioned!

FRIDAY FEAST with Fiona Palmer

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Greetings from Mount Gambier, the Blue Lake city! Well, for a few minutes more anyway. I’m flying out shortly after a whirlwind three days spent chatting to wonderful readers here, and at Hamilton and Balmoral in western Victoria. What fun!

Speaking of fun, my Sydney Swans were awesome last week, with an excellent win over Essendon leaving us sitting 3rd on the AFL ladder. Rah! Sadly, the Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Author Fiona PalmerPlay Golf news isn’t as positive. I appear to have lost all putting ability. Probably because I can’t stop thinking about The Falls, my next rural romance, and its hero Lucas in the pool. Deep sigh. That man…

Speaking of great characters, best-selling Australian rural romance author Fiona Palmer is spreading her wings with a wonderful new young adult series and it sounds a cracker. The first book in the MTG Agency series is The Recruit and features Jasmine Thomas who is definitely not your average teenager.

This is so cool! Take a look…

THE RECRUIT

Cover of The Recruit by Fiona PalmerFrom one of Australia’s Queens of Romance comes the debut in a brand new YA series about secrets, strengths, and what lies beneath the surface.

Jasmine Thomas may not be completely normal, but she’s a pretty typical seventeen-year-old girl. She hates the rich mean kids, loves her best friends, and can’t wait to get out of school each day. Her spare time is spent at The Ring — a boxing gym where she practically grew up — learning karate, boxing and street fighting. So, yeah, Jaz can kick some major butt.

Life seems pretty normal until the day Ryan Fletcher enters her gym…mysterious and hot with heaps of bad boy charm. Sure, she checks him out. Who wouldn’t? But what doesn’t show on his gorgeous abs are secrets and lies that dominate his very grown-up world. Now Jaz has to figure out just how far she is willing to go to know more. Could Ryan really be offering the life-fulfilling life path she’s always dreamed of?

The first in the MTG Agencies series.

Doesn’t that sound a ripping read? You can own it right now with just a few clickety-clicks. Buy the ebook from Amazon for your Kindle, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi, BigW ebooks, Barnes & Noble Nook, ebooks.com, All Romance eBooks or your favourite ebook retailer.

Loaded up? Wonderful. Now here’s Fiona.

Easing Into Winter

Oh I love the Friday Feast, thanks Cathryn for having me! It’s always great to be here and also a little scary. :/ I love eating food, I’m just not big on preparing/cooking it!!!  So as usual I’m going to share with you one of my foolproof recipes. (These are the only recipes I keep and tend to make over and over again.)

At the moment we are moving towards winter, I have already lit my fire and love sitting by it as it crackles away. So I’ve picked a meal my family loves to eat during winter. It’s a vegetable risotto with a twist.

Even my fussy child eats this, even with those awful vegies in it because the chicken stock makes it all taste the same.

So here it is: My Vegetable Risotto with Chicken Stock instead of Vegetable Stock

VEGETABLE RISOTTO

Fiona's vegetable risotto

2 cups sliced mushrooms (dice small if need to hide it from kids)

1 cup frozen beans (once again I cut these up into smaller bits)

1 cup frozen corn

1 cup diced red capsicum

1 onion finely diced

2 cups raw Arborio rice

6 cups (1 ½  litres) ready made chicken stock liquid

2 level teaspoons reduced fat margarine

1 level teaspoon crushed garlic   (when I’m cooking, nothing is ever precise. The

amount of ingredients that goes in depends on my mood.)

1/3 cup white wine (now I never seem to have wine when I cook this so I never put it in.)

3 level tablespoons parmesan cheese

2 chicken stock cubes

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook this in a large non-stick saucepan. (Also have vegetables cut and ready before you start.) Melt margarine, add onion and garlic, cook 2 minutes. Add in rice and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 2 cups of stock liquid and stock cubes, bring to boil then simmer stirring frequently until liquid has been absorbed by rice.

Add in wine, once absorbed pour in 2 cups of liquid, bring back to boil.

Add mushrooms, beans, corn and capsicum, reduce to a simmer stirring frequently until stock water is absorbed. Add final 2 cups of stock liquid, when almost all liquid has been absorbed (rice should be cooked by this stage) stir in parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste.

I had never made a risotto before making this one but every time I’ve made it, it’s been a hit. (If you know me, then you know that’s pretty amazing!!) So what I’m trying to say is if you follow the recipe you can’t go wrong.

We are big parmesan fans in this house so we like a bit extra on top. 🙂

 

Thanks, Fiona. LOVE risotto and even better when it’s super easy to make and tasty like this one. And healthy with the veg too, not to mention comforting. There’s something really warming about risotto. Perfect for these cooler months. Ah, those Italians, they really know how to please a stomach.

What about you, Feasters? What’s your favourite winter warmer?

I adore steamy rich casseroles but also anything with pulses in it. We have an amazing baked bean with meatballs recipe that is a huge favourite. I tested out a new Italian beef and cannellini bean recipe last week that’s going straight into the favourites pile too. Pulses are just so hearty and lovely!

Must share that bean and meatball recipe on Friday Feast one day… In the meantime, how about sharing your favourite winter tucker?

If you’d like to learn more about Fiona and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Twitter using @fiona_palmer and Facebook.

 

FRIDAY FEAST with J.M. Bray

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Welcome to Friday Feast, where food and fiction unites in one mouth-watering place!

And we’re going to be getting very mouth-watery soon with a Feast first-timer. But I’m sure you’re anxious for the latest instalment of Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf, and I wouldn’t want to deprive you. Last week I only lost one ball to a dam. A miracle! Next week I’m aiming for none. Can such a feat be achieved? Stay tuned!author JM Bray

Now on to my guest, a man set to break Feasty tradition. No, not because he’s a he – although this is unusual – but because he’s… American. Yes, today’s guest, J.M. Bray hails from Southern California.

I know, I know. Friday Feast is usually restricted to my enormously talented and glamorous Australian compatriots, but  J.M. asked nicely if he could and I said yes. ‘Tis good to have variety, plus J.M. is a member of the Romance Writers of Australia and is published by Australian publisher Escape. And he plays guitar and races a Porche, which, let’s face it, sounds pretty damn cool, so I think we can kind of claim him for today.

J.M.’s debut release is a new adult romantic fantasy novel called Tearing The Shroud and it looks a brilliant read. Take a peek.

 

TEARING THE SHROUD

 

Cover of Tearing The Shroud by JM BrayFall in love, be possessed, hunt a sorcerer and save the world — and Vincent thought calculus was tough.

1984 — Vincent expected college to be about freedom and girls, but then the nightmares of sorcery, monsters and other worlds began. Not even the surprising attention from his dream girl, Julie, could shake them.

Before he’s even nailed his second date with Julie, he’s possessed by Coleman, a warrior from another realm. Coleman is hell bent on defeating the monstrous Kafla who threatens to tear into Vincent’s reality, changing both his and Coleman’s worlds forever. They have one chance to stop them: Vincent must allow Coleman to share his body and wage war against the sorcerer.

Now it’s up to them, the women they love, and Vincent’s rag-tag bunch of role- playing and gaming friends to save the world, or see 1984 descend into the apocalypse.

 

See? Told you it sounded fantastic. It’s available now for immediate download to your e-reader, tablet, computer and phone.  Buy from Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, BigW ebooks, Google Play and JB Hi-Fi, or your favourite ebook retailer.

Loaded up? Excellent. Now enjoy this man-in-the-kitchen moment!

 

On Grandmother’s Stepstool

 

The earliest memory I have of a cooking is being on a stool next to my grandmother. We lived in a small house behind her home and every morning until I was five, I’d toddle down to her back porch where she waited for me. I can still here her say, “Come on, honey, help grandma cook.” Her heavy, white porcelain, gas stove with cast iron skillets and big pots bubbled and sizzled magically. I would watch as she fried bacon, then used the dripping to fry eggs, the centers soft and the edges a crispy dark brown from the bacon fat.

Photo of JM Bray Teaching his 2 year old grandson some kitchen skills

Teaching my 2 year old grandson some kitchen skills

My very first experience as a “cook” was near that time, stirring the white, sausage gravy. Yes, sausage, bacon, fried potatoes, eggs, fluffy biscuits (scones), coffee and juice was the normal breakfast. She was from the south, of Irish descent, born in 1898, five foot two inches tall and not a thin woman…which isn’t surprising given the food she made. Based on the time frame, I was about four. I’d stir the white gravy, with a spiraled whisk, careful to keep it from sticking as it thickened to a creamy consistency, later to be slathered over buttered biscuits.

Through years, she taught me how to bake bread (which she did twice a week until her death at age 81,) flip eggs without breaking them, make gravy and cook my favorite…potato soup. I once ate so much of it as a young teen that when I tried to stand afterward, I ended up on the kitchen floor. I learned my love for cooking at her side. I am the cook in our family and every time I lift a ladle or toss a spice in without measuring it, she is with me.

Today’s recipe is of that same soup…though I’ve made a slight improvement on her recipe. I think she’d approve. This soup, made by my protagonist for his girlfriend and her family, appears in Mending the Shroud, book two of the Shroud Trilogy. It will release mid-year through Escape Publishing. Consider this a preview.

In the Comments section post a fond memory of you have of a family recipe or cooking with grandma. We’ll roll the dice among the entrants and the winner will receive an ebook (.mobi or .epub) of my romantic fantasy novel, Tearing the Shroud.

 

 Potato Soup

 

Ingredients for potato soup

8 large-ish russet potatoes (about fist sized) peeled and cubed

1 medium onion chopped

1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)

1 12 oz. can of evaporated milk

Water

Salt

Pepper.

Serves 6-8 as a full meal.

chopped onions

Chop the onions and put them in a large pot with the stick of butter on a low-medium heat to cook until transparent or slightly golden.

cooking the onions

While that’s cooking, peel the potatoes and cube them to about 3/4 inch.

chopped potatoes

When the onions are ready add the potatoes to the pot and stir carefully, coating them with the onion butter mixture. Add just enough water to come ¾ of the way up the potatoes.

Adding the potatoes to the pot

Bring to a light boil, cover and let cook until the potatoes break apart when poked with a fork. Check occasionally to make sure you don’t run out of water.

(This is the change from grandma. who boiled the potatoes and onion in a lot of water, poured it off, then added the butter. Which I think tosses away some of the potato-y-goodness)

Add the can of milk and mash with a hand potato masher…DO NOT MIX with a mixer or immersion blender. It breaks up the potato too much and makes it too starchy. You want the soup to have texture with little pieces of potato.

Potato soup 

If you need to thin the soup, use milk or half and half, not water.

Salt and pepper to taste. It takes much more salt than you’d think, so don’t be shy.

As you can see, this is not a health conscious recipe, but is it ever good! It is, however economical. For less than five dollars, you can serve a hearty meal for 6-8 people. This soup also works wonderfully as a starter for large dinners or banquets. When I’ve done this, I just multiply the ingredients for my crowd and garnish with a sprinkle of chopped chives just before bringing to the table.

Enjoy!

JM

 

I think we will enjoy, J.M. What a handy recipe. With that creamy, buttery spudly goodness I’m thinking it’ll taste awesome too.

So Feasters, we have another giveaway!

Share a fond memory of cooking with your grandma or a treasured family recipe and you’ll go into the draw to win an e-book copy of J.M.’s fab novel, Tearing The Shroud.

I have lots of wonderful memories of cooking with my Nanny. Mum used to go off to netball on Saturdays and I would spend the afternoon with my grandparents. During those hours Nanny taught me to bake and sew and do all sorts of house-wifely things. They were lovely times that I’ll always treasure.

What about you? Any sweet memories you can make us dewy-eyed with?

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 4th March 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about J.M. and his books, please visit his website. You can also connect via Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, and also through his blog.