Thursday, 30 March 2017

Children's Book Review: 
The Leaky Story by Devon Sillett, Illustrated by Anil Tortop



In this delightful children's picture book titled The Leaky Story, an abandoned, long-forgotten book waits impatiently on the living room shelf at the Blossburn residence, longing to be read. 
One day, the book begins to swell up with yearning, and then it starts to leak! 
Initially, the book drips out slowly, but it isn't long before the entire Blossburn living room looks like an aquarium!
Once the family realises what is happening, they collaborate together to reclaim their living room from swashbuckling pirates and sea creatures. 

This book takes the reader on a real adventure. The illustrations are bright, and I love the message that the story has - it shows us why books can be such magical fun for all members of the family.

The Leaky Story is aimed at young readers 4-8 years, and retails for $24.99. It is published by Exisle Publishing, due for release in early April, and it will be available from www.ekbooks.org, and wherever good books are sold.
For further information, head here 

Monday, 27 March 2017

Cookbook Review:
The Adriatic Kitchen by Barbara Unkovic 



I was delighted to receive this cookbook recently, thanks to Exisle Publishing.
I have always enjoyed perusing cookbooks, poring over the recipes and discovering new dishes to try.

The Adriatic Kitchen features delicious recipes inspired by seasonal produce from the sun-drenched Croatian island of Korcula.
This book features over 70 recipes, including Leek & Potato Soup, Olive & Lemon Chicken, Black Risotto, and Oven Baked Octopus, plus breads and jams.
It also features a range of sweets such as Adriatic Almond Biscuits, Walnut & Coffee Slice, and Apple & Cinnamon Cake. 

What I was most pleasantly surprised with when looking through The Adriatic Kitchen was that the recipes are all quite simple to follow, and don't require many ingredients.
I've never eaten Croatian food, but I was really enticed by the beautiful recipes. In fact, I was so taken by them that I decided to make the Vanilla Horseshoe Biscuits that are featured in the cookbook (more on that later).
I also like the size of the cookbook; it is soft covered and quite light - not at all like the big, bulky recipe books I've come across in the past which can be quite difficult to handle in a busy kitchen.
The book is illustrated with rustic line drawings by Barbara's brother. I think that he has done a really lovely job with the artwork.
The Adriatic Kitchen retails for $14.99 and will be available from April from all good bookstores and www.exislepublishing.com.au. For further info, head here


As mentioned above, I made the Vanilla Horseshoe Biscuits and they were a hit!





I had all of the ingredients on hand apart from almonds, which I substituted with walnuts. 




I beat the butter and cream, then added the egg.




I added flour, baking powder, finely chopped walnuts, and milk alternately until it formed a dough.


I then shaped pieces of the dough into horseshoe shapes, and placed them on a baking tray, then baked them until pale golden brown.


I dusted them liberally with icing sugar whilst still warm.


Yum! 

As you can see, these are quite easy to make, and they tasted great too. I look forward to trying more recipes from this book in the near future. It's a great reference for any kitchen!

Do you use cookbooks to get ideas and inspiration from when cooking? 
Do you have a favourite cookbook, and if so, which one is your favourite? 


Disclosure: I was given a copy of The Adriatic Kitchen by Exisle Publishing in exchange for an honest review. I have not been paid for this review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Book Review: The Ex by Alafair Burke





Olivia Randall is a criminal defense lawyer who was in a serious relationship with Jack Harris twenty years ago. 
Olivia was the one who ended their relationship, and has had a string of uncommitted relationships since. 
Jack went on to marry a woman named Molly, who was sadly gunned down in a rampage three years ago.

One day, Olivia receives a phone call from a teenage girl named Buckley, explaining that her dad has been arrested for a triple homicide in relation to a shooting near the Hudson Parkway. 
It turns out that Buckley is Jack Harris' daughter..

Olivia decides to represent Jack, but as the evidence starts to piece together, she is doubtful of his innocence, especially as one of the victims had a connection to his wife's murder.

Could the man Olivia once loved and cared about really be capable of murder?
Or has Jack been framed by someone, and if so, who?

The Ex by Alafair Burke is a novel that has many twists to keep you turning the pages. I had an inkling pretty early on as to who the culprit was, so there wasn't as much suspense as I would've liked, but it is still fairly engaging. 
It has received mixed reviews, so I'd love to hear your thoughts on it if you have read it. 

Monday, 20 March 2017

Book Review: The Mother's Promise by Sally Hepworth




Alice Stanhope is 40 years-old when she is diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer.
She is the sole carer of her 15 year-old daughter Zoe, and has never needed anyone else up until this point in her life.
But her grim diagnosis gets Alice thinking that may have to change, and soon.
Thankfully, her cancer-care coordinator, Kate Littleton, and her social worker Sonja, offer the help and support she needs, and extend that kindness to Zoe, who suffers with social anxiety.
Kate steps in and offers to take Zoe in whilst Alice recovers from surgery. 
And whilst Alice initially has her hesitations, she eventually learns to accept her fate and allows Kate and Sonja to make her dark journey a little brighter.

The love that Zoe and Alice share is so special, and I think that the author did a great job of capturing their relationship perfectly. Here are two people who have always depended upon one another for support, encouragement, and companionship, and they both have their lives turned upside down with this terrible diagnosis. It is very emotional, and the reader gets a real sense of their closeness. 
I really felt for Zoe as she had so much to deal with. A debilitating mental illness, a sick mother, and the uncertainty of her future.
Both Kate and Sonja also have their own personal battles, although I felt that the story could've done without Sonja's struggle. It just added a layer that detracted from the main topic and didn't fit nicely in the storyline.

Many of us take for granted the support and love we have from family and friends, and this book gets you thinking about those that don't have that option, as well as leaving the reader asking what they'd would do in a similar situation.
Whilst the story is rather sad, there are elements of humour throughout, as well as hope. It is a thought-provoking novel that is told with a lot of emotion. 

Disclosure: I was given an ARC of The Mother's Promise with thanks to Beauty & Lace and Pan Macmillan in exchange for an honest review. I have not been paid for this review. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Book Review: The Summer Seaside Kitchen by Jenny Colgan 



The prompt for Life This Week, (a blog link-up run by the lovely Denyse) is 'My Favourite Colour.'
Whilst I don't have one favourite, I often find that I am drawn to books with covers that are bright and colourful. Of course, that isn't the only thing that I look for, but I do enjoy looking at book covers a lot!
Colours also play an important role in many stories, as they are often used to describe surroundings, and even emotions.
For example, in the book I review in this post, The Summer Seaside Kitchen, set for the most part in Scotland, the lush green surroundings, the long, light-filled days, and the beautiful blue oceans are depicted in great detail, and add a special element to the story.
And now, onto my review.. 

 Flora MacKenzie is a single 26 year-old woman, who, although successful in her career as a paralegal, sadly doesn't have the same fortune in love. She has a crush on her lawyer boss, Joel Binder, but unfortunately, he barely acknowledges her existence.
Flora has a Scottish background but currently works in London after leaving her hometown of Mure a couple of years earlier following the death of her mother.
Joel originally hails from America, and when a fellow American client named Colton Rogers needs his assistance regarding the opposition of wind farms in Mure where he is currently restoring a popular landmark, he asks Joel for someone in his department with a Scottish background to help out his deal. Joel sees that Flora is the obvious choice, and appoints her as the candidate.
Flora is hesitant to return to her hometown, but eventually agrees to take the job.
She returns home to her brothers, Innes (who has an adorable young daughter named Agot), Fintan, and Hamish, and her father Eck.
Flora is shocked to see that the men have let not only the house, but their health, go downhill. She sets about fixing up the home and upon doing so, she comes across her mother's old recipe book.
She creates some of the dishes that her mother used to prepare for them all, and they are reminded of the many joyous memories they shared with their mother. Even Eck, a man of few words, appreciates Flora's culinary skills.
When Colton is given the opportunity to sample her food, he is so taken by it that he requests Flora to prepare food to sell at another premises that he owns, which is currently vacant.
Flora opens up 'The Summer Seaside Kitchen', which proves to be hugely popular amongst the locals and tourists alike. Despite its success, Flora vows that the shop will only be opened temporarily as she plans on returning to London.
But as family secrets are revealed, and local man Charlie begins to show his interest for Flora, her plans may be foiled yet..

This is a delightful story that I thoroughly enjoyed, particularly as I have been reading some fairly dark novels lately, and this was so refreshing.
The way in which the author describes the settings of Mure made me feel as though I was right there too. 
With lovely characters and a charming storyline, this book ticked a lot of boxes for me.
I also adored the recipes that Jenny shares as the end of the book. They sound very tempting indeed!

What attracts you to a book? Is it the cover, the author, or the description? Or perhaps a combination?


Just a quick reminder that if you haven't already done so, you can enter my giveaway here. There's 3 children's books up for grabs! But hurry as it ends tonight!

Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of The Summer Seaside Kitchen through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and not influenced in any way. I have not been paid for this review.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Book Review: The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney



As we gear up for the long weekend here in Melbourne, I have so many books that I need to try and read before they are due back to the library, plus a couple on my e-reader that I need to read and review! 
But, I have recently read The Girl Before, and I've been struggling to come up with the words to describe this psychological thriller. 
I'll begin with intriguing and creepy, but not all entirely in a good way...

The story centres around two main female characters; Emma and Jane, and reverts back and forth between 'then' (Emma's story) and 'now' (Jane's story).

Then: When we first meet Emma, she is dating a man named Simon, and they are looking for a new apartment to live in as they've been recently burgled and Emma doesn't feel safe in their current residence.
They are shown a building called One Folgate Street. It is a very minimalist, high tech place. The architect owner is a man by the name of Edward Monkford. It turns out that Edward has a series of questions and unusual terms that he uses to select the tenants, and he makes it clear that no changes to the residence can be made in any way, shape, or form.
Although they are a little put off by his terms, Emma and Simon move in, but there are a lot of issues that they face, and after some time, they part ways. Emma finds comfort in Edward, and they begin a relationship. But don't think for a second that it is an ordinary relationship..

Now: Jane is 34 years old, single, and recovering from having a stillbirth.
She moves in to One Folgate Street after being selected by Edward. One day, she notices that flowers are left on her doorstep frequently, and at first, she assumes that they are from Edward as a way to welcome her into the apartment.
But when she catches the flower bearer heading back to his car, she's shocked when he tells her that someone named Emma had once been murdered in the apartment. 
Jane is intrigued by this discovery, and she decides to try and uncover just what happened to the girl before her who'd lived at One Folgate Street. 

I won't give away too much more, but I will say that Edward is a character I disliked instantly. He reminded me a lot of Christian Grey. Dominant, and very controlling . 
The story has a lot going for it though. Its fast-paced, suspenseful, and definitely kept me turning the pages.
The chapters are super short, and I often struggled with keeping track of whether I was reading about Emma or Jane, as they are very similar. It threw me off quite a few times, and I think that if the chapters had been a bit longer, it wouldn't have been much of an issue. 
I didn't like many (if any) of the characters but that is what made me want to keep reading!
I've heard that The Girl Before is being made into a movie, so I'm curious to see how it is adapted for the screen.

Are you a fan of thrillers? Have you read The Girl Before? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, 6 March 2017

Book Review: Can You Keep A Secret? by Caroline Overington.


I am a big fan of Caroline Overington's. She is such a talented writer and I can't wait until April to read her latest book, The Lucky One.
I just fly through her stories as they are told so well. 
Can You Keep A Secret? is no exception.

Twenty-eight year old Lachlan J Colbert (Colby) is an investment banker working at the World Trade Centre in New York just before the millenium when his colleague Robert suggests that they take a holiday. 
The destination is Far North Queensland in Australia. 
They charter a yacht and spend days sailing along the Whitsundays. Colby meets 19 yr old Caitlin Hourigan, who is working as a deckhand on the yacht. 
When the yacht docks in Townsville, Colby stays at a motel and invites Caitlin to join him. She agrees, and they begin a relationship. 
He returns to NYC, but he is smitten with Caitlin and they remain in contact. He visits her again in the year 2000, and the following year, he pays for her to join him in New York. 
She is there when the tragic events of September 11 unfolds. And although both Colby and Caitlin survive, she becomes fearful and anxious, refusing to fly back to Australia. 
They decide to get married, but there are secrets and lies, and things are definitely not as perfect as they appear to be..

I don't want to elaborate further as I try to keep all of my reviews spoiler-free, but this book was very, very clever and it had me thinking about the story long after I'd finished it. 
I kept asking myself 'How does Caroline come up with these incredible story lines?'
I thought I knew how the book would end, but it was certainly different to what I had envisioned. I really enjoyed this book, and can't wait to start reading another of Caroline's novels!
If you've read any of her books, I'd love to hear from you!

Also, there's still time to enter my giveaway to win one of 3 children's books here 

Linking up for Life This Week thanks to Denyse Whelan 

Friday, 3 March 2017

Book Review: I Don't Have Time - 15 Ways To Shape A Life You Love By Emma Grey & Audrey Thomas


I'm sure that you would all agree with me when I say that life is just so busy! 
Commitments, appointments, and just day-to-day life in general leave many of us playing the constant 'catch-up' game.
If you do feel like you have no time left for yourself at the end of each day, this fantastic self-help book will be of great benefit to you!
The book includes 15-minute experiments that will guide you to making little improvements every day which will allow you to put yourself first, even if for a short while.
It is very simple to follow, and offers tips to manage feelings of stress, and feelings of being overwhelmed too.
It also focuses on changing your mindset from a negative to a more positive one, without striving for perfectionism.
I like that both Emma and Audrey share their experiences and offer examples of their own personal failures and successes throughout the book. They're funny and most importantly, honest about their situations.
The book has been published recently and is available through http://www.exislepublishing.com.au/ and wherever good books are sold.