Book Review: Little Tables – Anytime Breakfasts from around the World, by Vanessa Lewis

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_little_tablesThis book is half-recipe book, half-cute photos of kids book.  Visiting the cuisines of 32 countries across the globe, each country gets two recipes, a “fun fact”, and a gorgeous photo of a child that goes with the country’s “theme”.

The recipes weren’t created by Lewis, but come from websites, books and magazines.  They are wide and varied, with the idea that they give the reader a little taste of the culture of each country.  For example, New Zealand is represented by steel-cut oat porridge, and mussel and potato fritters.  The fun fact for New Zealand is about the carrot statue in Ohakune; it’s then followed by the mussel fritter recipe. I found this a bit jarring – some of the facts bear little or no relationship to the recipes, and I wondered what the point was; however, the bulk of the facts do relate directly to the recipe, or the nation’s cuisine.

The recipes themselves are fairly easy to follow, and they cover the range from basic to more complicated, allowing the book to be accessed by a wide range of home cooks.

It’s the photographs that are really the star of the book. The food photography is appetising and well-styled, inviting the reader into their own kitchen to get creating. The photos of the children are pretty lovely, with the children dressed to represent the country in some way, and interesting props.

This would make a nice gift for a child or family, to encourage some food adventures.  I know in my family breakfast is often rushed, and Little Tables would be fun to work through over the course of a year of weekends, trying many of the wide variety of dishes, and making an occasion of the meal.

Reviewed by Rachel Moore

Little Tables – Anytime Breakfasts from around the World
by Vanessa Lewis
Published by Beatnik Publishing
ISBN 9780994120595

Book Review: Heartland, by Jenny Pattrick

‘Donny Mac was released at Easter timecv_heartland_JP, about a month before Pansy Holloway, also known as Nightshade, disappeared for good.’

After a short stint in prison on trumped-up charges, Donny Mac returns to the house left to him by his grandfather in the small settlement of Manawa, in the shadow of Mt Ruapehu. Now inhabited by a handful of colourful locals, the once prosperous milling town is only bustling in the ski season when the out-of-towners arrive.

Awaiting his return is the drunken and pregnant Nightshade, who claims Donny is the father. Donny’s friends keep watch anxiously: the lace-making Bull Howie; Vera who can be seen every evening wheeling Bull’s dinner in a pram down to his house in her own version of meals on wheels; farmer George Kingi and his fey four-year-old daughter Lovey; and the strange elderly sisters who have moved in next door. Also watching is the Virgin Tracey, a sixteen-year-old hiding out in one of the abandoned houses, with her own tiny baby.

When an accident threatens to put Donny back into prison, he and the Virgin Tracey come up with a solution to cover it up. But can the secret remain hidden?

My Thoughts

Heartland is the story of a sleepy little town.

A town of old stalwarts set in their ways; of busybodies, bullies, no-hopers and townies.
A town full of secrets and lies.

Heartland is the story of a lost and broken teenager, saving a slow and misunderstood ex-con from himself, and in doing so they reunite a forgotten family, forge lifelong friendships, and find the strength to face their own demons and truly be themselves.

Author Jenny Pattrick has created a completely believable small town in New Zealand and filled it with lovingly quirky and original characters. I was quickly engrossed by this motley crue of townsfolk, their individual stories were carefully and beautifully woven together in a thoroughly engrossing tale that captivated me from the start.

An easy to read, eloquently written story, Heartland turned out to be a real gem of a read. Full to brimming characters that reminded me of a number of my old rural neighbours, mixed in with the almost Chinese-whisper-like tales that only a small town can conjure up made for an entertaining read and a small trip down memory lane for me.

I would have no hesitation recommending this book to many of my friends as I feel it crosses several genres and does so well enough to keep mystery, romance, literature – in fact, all book fans happy!

A slow paced sleepy town, but by no means a sleepy story – 4 stars.

Reviewed by Cath Cowley

Heartland
by Jenny Pattrick
Published by Random House NZ
ISBN 9781775535850