Hey cHEwY gum gums

My Review series continues with 2 of my favourite things that begin with B…let’s start with the books that really zinged for me. I’m happy to say that I have read more books than last year!

In no particular order, here are my faves

Stella the Unstoppable and the Talent Show Fiasco- Richard Newsome (Affirm Press)

Can I just say how impressive Affirm Press have been? From hearing them speak at this year’s CBCA conference to seeing latest their line up, they are smashing it. Richard Newsome’s latest series is about a girl who is oblivious to anyone else and is a trouble-magnet. Richard nails the voice seamlessly and she is a joy to follow. I’ve only read the first book about the talent quest, but I want to read the rest. Sarah Davis’ illustrations are divine too.

Pie in the Sky-Remi Lai (Walker Books)

Confession time: I’m always going to be shouting out Asian-Australians in the kidslit community (blog post coming soon), so I was instantly attracted to Remy’s debut novel about two boys migrating to Australia. 10 years after Thai-riffic!, it is refreshing to read a different take of how difficult/easy it is for migrants to settle into Australia. Jingwen genuinely struggles with the English language and from there, his inability to make friends and survive school only escalates. There’s also a tender backstory about Jingwen’s family, as well as some brotherly fun. I haven’t even mentioned the cakes yet, oh those cakes! Remy’s illustrations scattered throughout add an extra layer to this heartwarming story, with an unexpected ending. I can’t wait to meet her one day 🙂

Lenny’s Book of Everything-Karen Foxlee (Allen and Unwin)

Okay, so remember how I said that this wasn’t in any order, maybe I lied, because if there was one book, one world, one character that lingered in my head longer than anyone else this year, it was Lenny.

I’ve never read To Kill A Mockingbird, so I just had to marvel at Karen’s wizardry to tell an young-adult story through a child’s eyes and yet land emotional blows with every page. My goodness, I will ever write a book this good. Ever. The encyclopedia angle is more than just a gimmick, it cements this story between Lenny and her strange but wonderful brother. To write more about this would only ruin the surprise, but rest assured, if you ever read one book this year, make it this one.

Onto those delicious burgers now. Another stellar (ha!) year with over 130 burgergrams…oh my heart just stopped, ah there it goes. It’s time to look back on three particular faves that stand out for me…

Rock Me Burgers-Chiang Mai, Thailand

Legend has it that a US chef rocked up to Chiang Mai and decided to rock the burger scene (okay, I’ll stop here) with own take of American burgers with a twist. Each of the burgers on the menu are inventive and I had to settle for one. The Purple Rain is a bit more simple than the others, with hash brown, sweet potato bun, maple bacon and cheese. But together, they were bliss.

Burgerfiend, Cessnock, NSW

Lunch break during the school days of the Newcastle Writers Festival and wowee, what a find. Or should I say, fiend hehe. This Aussie classic does the little things right, soft bun, tender patty and fresh ingredients that let the meat stay in the spotlight. And that sauce, whoa that sauce is to die for.

Fergburgers, Queenstown, New Zealand

I’m afraid that I’ve been spoiled for burgers ever since the second week of 2019, where I ventured to Queenstown and had Fergburgers. Ed Sheeran hung out here heaps. The queues are always an hour long at all times of the day. Listed in top 10 burger places around the world as close to the top. And you know what? They were all right. The hype is real. Jacqueline Harvey, if you are reading this, get down there now.

Let’s start with the basics. The buns matter, hun! Fergburgers started off as a bakery so their buns are baked fresh and they hold the ingredients better than any bun that I’ve ever had. Yes, the rest of the burger is amazing, from the chargrilled beef, the smokey bacon and all that. But when they say burgers are a one-handed meal, this is what they truly mean.

Will I ever find a better burger than Fergburgers? Bring on 2020 hehe


About the author

I'm an author, stand-up comedian and teacher. My books include Thai-riffic!, Con-nerd, Punchlines and The Other Christy. I'm a massive Nintendo fan and love eating burgers. Follow me on Twitter or Instagram @oliverwinfree

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