Recommended reads
Authors’ best books read lately

Natasha Lester recommends:

The Sisters’ Song
By Louise Allan

As children, Ida loves looking after her younger sister, Nora, but when their beloved father dies in 1927, everything changes. The two girls move in with their grandmother who is particularly encouraging of Nora’s musical talent. Nora eventually follows her dream of a brilliant musical career, while Ida takes a job as a nanny and their lives become quite separate.

The two sisters are reunited as Nora’s life takes an unwelcome direction and she finds herself, embittered and resentful, isolated in the Tasmanian bush with a husband and children.

Ida longs for a family and when she marries Len, a reliable and good man, she hopes to soon become a mother. Over time, it becomes clear that this is never likely to happen. In Ida’s eyes, Nora possesses everything in life that could possibly matter yet she values none of it.

Set in rural Tasmania over a span of seventy years, the strengths and flaws of motherhood are revealed through the mercurial relationship of these two very different sisters, Ida and Nora. The Sisters’ Song speaks of dreams, children and family, all entwined with a musical thread that binds them together.

Kate Forsyth recommends:

A Skinful of Shadows
By Frances Hardinge

This is the story of a bear-hearted girl . . .

Sometimes, when a person dies, their spirit goes looking for somewhere to hide.
Some people have space within them, perfect for hiding.

Twelve-year-old Makepeace has learned to defend herself from the ghosts which try to possess her in the night, desperate for refuge, but one day a dreadful event causes her to drop her guard.

And now there’s a spirit inside her.

The spirit is wild, brutish and strong, and it may be her only defence when she is sent to live with her father’s rich and powerful ancestors. There is talk of civil war, and they need people like her to protect their dark and terrible family secret.

But as she plans her escape and heads out into a country torn apart by war, Makepeace must decide which is worse: possession – or death.”

Sarah Mills recommends:

The Prophet
By Kahlil Gibran

Kahlil Gibran’s masterpiece, The Prophet, is one of the most beloved classics of our time. Published in 1923, it has been translated into more than twenty languages, and the American editions alone have sold more than nine million copies.

The Prophet is a collection of poetic essays that are philosophical, spiritual, and, above all, inspirational. Gibran’s musings are divided into 28 chapters covering such sprawling topics as love, marriage, children, giving, eating and drinking, work, joy and sorrow, housing, clothes, buying and selling, crime and punishment, laws, freedom, reason and passion, pain, self-knowledge, teaching, friendship, talking, time, good and evil, prayer, pleasure, beauty, religion, and death.

Authors’ best cookbooks read lately

Natasha Lester recommends:

Women’s Weekly Sweet Old-Fashioned Favourites

Originally released in 1991, this is one of The Australian Women’s Weekly best-selling cookbooks. It is being released again now by popular demand and contains all of the nostalgic, fondly remembered recipes for cakes, biscuits, desserts and more from yesteryear.

Kate Forsyth recommends:

French Farmhouse Cookbook
By Susan Hermann Loomis

As much a book of inspiration as a collection of more than 250 uncommonly delicious recipes, French Farmhouse Cookbook captures the rustic and richly flavoured farmhouse cooking that is the basis of French cuisine and a perennial inspiration of French chefs. The author visited and lived among farmers, cheesemakers, ranchers, and vintners from the Pyrénnées to Alsace-Lorraine, from Normandy to Provence. The result is a stunning portrait in recipes, lively essays, and a wealth of astucesó tips passed down through generations of cooks. Here are dishes prepared by lifelong cooks – not chefs – intended to satisfy, not impress.

Sarah Mills recommends:

Two Fat Ladies: Full Throttle
By Jennifer Patterson and Clarissa Dickson Wright

In their third uncensored romp through British and European cuisine, TV’s doyennes of decadent food let it rip with all-new, rebelliously rich recipes and food for thought. This raucous ride finds Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Paterson storming across the cattle and pig farms of Britain to reclaim meat-eaters, searching through dead royals’ repertoires for time-tested treasures, and even venturing down under to Australia for their delectable gems.

Companion to their hit series, The Two Fat Ladies Full Throttle offers a diversity of dishes that makes menu planning easy. These intensely flavored recipes deliver palate-pleasing meals that are a delight on your plate as well, for as Clarissa maintains, “Nothing is worse than an all-white menu.”

Replete with hilarious anecdotes from their forays into the British countryside and beyond the Channel, The Two Fat Ladies Full Throttle includes full-color photos of finished dishes. Never has indulgence been so over the top and so very tempting.