Monday, February 28, 2022

This Week....

I'm reading....

As I mentioned last week I started reading The Life She Creates by Maggie Christensen on the plane to Tasmania. It turns out that the Granite Springs books are perfect holiday reads as I ended up finishing that book and the next book in the series, The Life She Regrets. I started the final book in the series, The Life She Dreams on the plane on the way home. I guess I am going to be looking for Maggie Christensen's earlier books now.

The other book that I finished on the plane was Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr. As I sit here I am trying to work out what I felt about the book. There was beautiful use of language, so many lovely quotes, and overall it was a satisfying read. It wasn't perfect though. I would just get invested in one of the stories and the narrative would change. I admired it a lot but it was a challenge to read.

I thought I would mention that I am planning to participate in March Magics, hosted by WeBeReading. The idea of March Magics is to read Terry Pratchett and Diana Wynn-Jones. The theme for this year is Old Friends and New which is a perfect theme for me. I have been reading Pratchett for a long time and yet I still haven't read all of them, and I have never read Diana Wynn-Jones. I know....shocking. My intention is to read a book of essays I have titled Women of Pratchett by Tansy Rayner-Roberts and then to read Moving Pictures. As for DWJ, I am not really sure where to start. Maybe with Howl's Moving Castle.

I'm watching....

We just watched what we could find whilst we were on holidays. We did watch more news than we would normally so we have been watching the news with disbelief, both in terms of the news coming out of the Ukraine and the unfolding flooding situation in Queensland.


Have I mentioned that I was on holidays this week? We had an amazing week away in Tasmania. I had been there before but my husband hadn't but we are already talking about what we will do next time we go. I posted some photos from Port Arthur last week and here's a few pics from this week.

Posts from the last week

Top Ten Tuesday: Dynamic Duos

Weekend Cooking:What I Baked in February

I've linked this post to It's Monday, what are you reading? as hosted by Book Date

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Weekend Cooking: What I Baked in February

Normally I share what I have baked at the beginning of each month, but we are away this week and so I have decided to share it this week instead. I did have something else planned for today but I haven't made it yet so hopefully I will get around to making it in order to post about it next week!

In the end I only made one thing in February, but it was a big hit so we will definitely be making it again and it looked so good in the bundt tin that I bought recently. I can really see myelf getting addicted to buying new bundt tins. I am currently contemplating two different designs to be my next purchase. And maybe I should get some mini bundt tins whiile I am at it You know, just so I can save on postage.

I used this recipe for a Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake from Cupcake Jemma and I loved how light and lemony this was, and my husband loved it, to the point that he didn't even want to have cream on it, which is saying a lot in his case.

This is definitely on the favourites list and I will be making it again.

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Blog Tour: Summer in Bellbird Bay by Maggie Christensen

I have been reading Maggie Christensen's Granite Springs mature age romance series for just over a year now. I love that they are consistently good and very comfortable reads, so I can't tell you how disappointed I was when I heard that the series was coming to an end, despite the fact that I still have a few books in the series to read.

It turns out though that there was no need to worry because she is now writing a new series set in a town on Queensland's Sunshine Coast called Bellbird Bay and it has all of the same elements that I love. Where Granite Springs is set in a university town, Bellbird Bay is a beachside town. There is a slight link to Granite Spring series, in that the main character, Ailsa McNeil is the sister of one of the characters who got their happily ever after in the previous series. However, that is really the only link so you don't have to read all nine books in the Granite Springs series to appreciate this book.

Ailsa McNeil's life has been turned on it's head unexpectedly after her husband says that the marriage is over. She needs some time and space to think things through, so she takes advantage of a standing invitation from her old friend, Bev Cooper, to visit her home in Bellbird Bay, leaving her husband and grown sons behind.  Long walks on the beach in a town where no one knows her sounds perfect, especially seeing as she is not ready to talk through what has happened in her life with anyone. And it was ideal until Bev's brother Martin suddenly announces that he is coming home. No one really knows why and Martin is not ready to talk about why he is returning to the town that he left many years ago. Ailsa has never told Bev about the spark that she felt for Martin as a teenager.

Martin is a successful photographer. His work has taken him to many out of the way places and he has worked hard to build a career that is enviable to his peers. What he has never been good at is relationships with women. His latest romantic partner moved on to someone else as soon as his career took a nosedive in controversial circumstances. Now he is back in the town that he grew up in hiding from the world. It is, however, hard to hide when you are something of a local celebrity, and many of the people in the town are the people that you grew up with. He really doesn't see the attraction of staying in the town like his old mates have.

When Bev hurts herself, Martin and Ailsa are forced to spend time together working hard to keep her garden centre and cafe going while she recovers. And spending time with Martin brings that spark back to life, but Ailsa still has to deal with her marriage and work out what her future is going to look like.

One of the things I found myself thinking about as a read this book was about the idea of coming home. I have lived in several cities now. I started in Perth, then moved to Adelaide when I was ten and lived there until my early twenties, went overseas for five years, back to Adelaide and then moved to Melbourne around twenty years ago. It's odd to me that for all the time I lived in Adelaide, Perth was still home to me (mainly because most of my family still lived in Perth) but as soon as I moved to Melbourne that felt like home. I do still love visiting Perth and there are certain things that very much make me think of it with fond memories even now. 

One of the things that I love about these books is that the romances are for mature people. As much as I love to read about twenty somethings falling in love, I do enjoy reading stories where people my age or older are getting the chance to meet that someone special. After all, I was lucky enough to meet someone amazing in my mid 40s.

There was an interesting cast of secondary characters in this book, and it is clear to me that at least some of these will become the primary characters in their own stories in the series. The next book, Coming Home to Bellbird Bay is out in May and I am already looking forward to it. In the mean time, I am reading all the Granite Springs books I haven't yet read. I've read two this week alone!

Rating 4.5/5

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the review copy of this book

About the book:

Summer in Bellbird Bay

Can Bellbird Bay provide solace to these two broken souls?

When Ailsa McNeil’s marriage falls apart, an invitation to spend the summer with an old friend in Bellbird Bay offers her the opportunity to escape and regroup. What she doesn’t expect is to meet her friend’s twin brother, the first man to stir her emotions when she was an impressionable nineteen-year-old.

As a young man, Martin Cooper couldn’t wait to leave Bellbird Bay. He has spent the past thirty years travelling the world and has accomplished his dream of becoming a celebrated travel photographer. But it has come at a price and, when his career and personal life take a downward turn, he returns to his hometown to consider his future.

When an accident thrusts the two together, their earlier attraction resurfaces. Torn between the desire to protect herself from further hurt and her renewed feelings for the man she’s never forgotten, can Ailsa find happiness again or is it too late?

A heartwarming tale of family, friends, and how a second chance at love can happen when you least expect it.

Purchase Link -


About the Author –

After a career in education, Maggie Christensen began writing contemporary women’s fiction portraying mature women facing life-changing situations, and historical fiction set in her native Scotland. Her travels inspire her writing, be it her trips to visit family in Scotland, in Oregon, USA or her home on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast. Maggie writes of mature heroines coming to terms with changes in their lives and the heroes worthy of them. Her writing has been described by one reviewer as like a nice warm cup of tea. It is warm, nourishing, comforting and embracing.

From the small town in Scotland where she grew up Scotland, Maggie was lured to Australia by the call ‘Come and teach in the sun’. Once there, she worked as a primary school teacher, university lecturer and in educational management. Now living with her husband of over thirty years on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, she loves walking on the deserted beach in the early mornings and having coffee by the river on weekends. Her days are spent surrounded by books, either reading or writing them – her idea of heaven!


Social Media Links –







Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Dynamic Duos


Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week the topic is Dynamic Duos (Submitted by Elley @ Elley the Book Otter). My orginal thought was that I was going to really struggle to come up with many dynamic duos, so I started to do a twist on the theme. However,  a bit of thought and I managed to come up with ten so my twisted topic will need to wait until the freebie in April.

Some of my duos are more dynamic than others but they are all memorable in their own ways.

Jamie and Claire from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Murderbot and ART from Artificial Condition by Martha Wells (part of the Murderbot series)

Death and Susan from the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett

Alex Clairmont-Diaz and Prince Henry from Red White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Yelena and Valek from Poison Study series by Maria V Snyder

Madame Ramotswe and Grace Makutsi from the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series

Alexander and Tatiana from The Bronze Horsemanby Paullina Simons

Aziraphale and Crowley from Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Nicholas Brisbane and Lady Julia Grey from The Lady Julia Grey series by Deanna Raybourn

Amelia Peabody and Emerson from the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters

Who were the dynamic duos on your TTT this week? 

Monday, February 21, 2022

This Week...

I'm reading...

Last week I mentioned that I was starting Summer in Bellbird By by Maggie Christensen which I read in a day and thoroughly enjoyed. My blog post should be up this week. This is the start of a spin off from the Granite Springs series. Reading this book reminded me that I had not finished reading the Granite Springs series and so this week I read A Granite Springs Christmas and I read half of the next book, The Life She Creates on the plane this morning. I foresee the last two books in the series in my very near reading future.

I still need to finish Cloud Cuckoo Land too!

I also finished listening to Comfort Me With Apples by Catherynne M Valente. What a strange and yet mesmerising story. This is a retelling with a difference and It;s really hard to even begin to talk about without spoiling.

Next up, I think I am going to start listening to Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Tales from the Cafe by Toshikazu Kawaguchi. My main reason for choosing this is tht it around 6 hours long which is a doable length for me.

I'm watching....

We are big fans of Escape to the Chateau so we were excited to see that there is a new series. My husband likes to think we are a bit like Angel and Dick, in that I think of an idea and then he has to make it happen. I think that is a bit harsh, especially seeing as sometimes they are his ideas!

I have also started watching two series about the River Thames which are Bridges that Built London and The Thames at Night which is hosted by Tony Robinson. I find all the hidden stories and historical information fascinating. It's right up there with train based travel shows for me.

We also binge watched season 2 of Starstruck on Saturday night. It was a fun way to spend a few hour.  The story focusses on a girl from New Zealand who is living in London when she meets a movie star. She is not great at relationships and so there are many ups and downs and hi-jinx all round. It's easy watching.


I spent Saturday morning getting cultured by attending an exhibition of scenes from the Sistine Chapel. Whilst it isn't the same as going to Rome, it was nice to be able too see many of the paintings from the frescoes up close and in detail. One of the things I loved was that Michelangelo really seemed to value books and learning and this was reflected in his paintings. I mean, we've all had that moment when we have been reading a really good book and we get interupted but we don't have a bookmark handy so we have to use our fingers to not lose our place.

We are currently in Tasmania on holidays and we spent Sunday at Port Arthur, which is a historical penal site and tomorrow we are heading up the coast. Look forward to more pictures next week.

Posts from the last week

Top Ten Tuesday: Books with No Words

Weekend Cooking: Big Night

I've linked this post to It's Monday, what are you reading? as hosted by Book Date

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Weekend Cooking: Big Night

My current obsession with all things Stanley Tucci continued this week. So far I have watched the Searching for Italy series (twice) and listened to his memoir, but this week I went way back and watched his 1996 movie Big Night.

The story is a simple one. The two brothers run an unsuccessful restaurant in Paradise, New Jersey. Primo, the older brother is the talented chef who is determined to serve only authentic Italian cuisine despite the fact that the locals don't understand or like it. Tucci's character is Secondo, the younger brother and the charming front of house man who takes care of the business side of things. 

After being told that they can no longer meet the loan repayments, a friend/business rival says that he can help out by getting a big star to come to their restaurant to do a benefit, so the two brothers decide to go all out. After all, this is going to be the night that saves their restaurant.

What happens is a big night. The guests eat, drink, flirt, dance whilst waiting for the star attraction to arrive. Therr are various undercurrents amongst the guests. There is Secondo's girlfriend who wants more than he is willing to give.  And then there is the friend/business rival and his lovely daughter. There is a car salesman who is never off the job. This group of people come together for one night

I really enjoyed watching this movie. The food scenes are so beautifully filmed and the movie is worth watching just for that. The film also explores a number of themes around family, and in particular the way that Primo is determined to keep the traditional ways going and Secondo has fully embraced the American way of life and how that causes division between them.

There are a number of big names in the cast in addition to Tucci. His brother is played by Tony Shalhoub and other cast members include Minnie Driver, Mark Anthony, Isabella Rosselini and Liev Schreiber.

There is no doubt that you can tell that this movie was made in 1996. One of the things that surprised me was how much smoking there was for example, but in other ways it is still a great movie. The final five minutes scene is exceptional. Five minutes with very few words but excellent interaction between the three characters involved. 

In the series Searching for Italy and also in his memoir, Tucci talks about the making of a timpano, and so I thought I would share the following clip:

Weekly meals

Saturday - Food truck food
Sunday - 
Monday - Valentines Dinner
Tuesday -Chicken Parma
Wednesday - Pasta Carbonara
Thursday - Takeaway
Friday - Dinner at the pub

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Books with no words

Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week the topic is Books Too Good to Review Properly (I have no words!) (Submitted by Dedra @ A Book Wanderer). I have decided instead to do a twist on this and do Books with No Words. Now it's not that the books don't have words, it's just that I listened to them and so I didn't actually do the reading.

So, here are the last ten books I listened to on audio.

Taste: My Life in Food by Stanley Tucci- read by Tucci himself. Very enjoyable.

Before the Coffee Goes Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (translated by Geoffrey Trousselot) - Right now I am all about short, engaging audiobooks and this one fits the bill. I think that the follow up book to this will be my next audiobook.

The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett - Listened to this just before Christmas. Thinking I might do that again too.

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley  - One of my all time favourite books

The Sun Sister by Lucinda Riley - Part of the Seven Sisters series. I have listened to them all on audio.

The Roommate by Dervla McTiernan - Connected to the Cormac O'Reilly mystery series.

Normal People by Sally Rooney - You don't notice things like missing speach quotation marks when you are listening to a book instead of reading it.

The Switch by Beth O'Leary - One of the narrators of this book was Daisy Edgar-Jones who starred in the TV adapttion of Normal People.

The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan - This is another of the books in the Cormac O'Reilly series. I think I have listened to them all on audio too.

The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan - I enjoy Jenny Colgan's books and this is another author who I tend to read on audio instead of reading the book.

Have you listened to any of these?

Monday, February 14, 2022

This week...

I'm reading...

Last week I had just started Cloud Cuckoo Land and I think I will be reading it for a couple more weeks at least because it is a big book. So far, it is really good. There are multiple stories which are going to be tied together at some point I'm sure.

I finished listening to Stanley Tucci's foodie memoir Taste: My Life Through Food and moved straight onto a story called Comfort Me With Apples by Catherynne M Valente - two very different books. In fact, Comfort Me With Apples is very unusual so far. I picked it up because it is only two hours long on audio which is a length that feels very doable to me. 

I also started reading Maggie Christensen's Summer in Bellbird Bay for a blog tour next week. We are going to be away next week so I feel like I need to get that book read and reviewed so that it can be scheduled and I don't have to worry about doing it while I am away.

I'm watching...

We finished watching The Book of Bobba Fett on Friday night. My husband has always been a big Star Wars fan so whenever anything Star Wars related comes along it is inevitable that we will watch it. I haven't seen all the movies but I am enjoying the spin offs.

We also started watching Jack Reacher on Amazon Prime and it will be a show that we will be watching together. We have watched two episodes so far, and it feels like such a good adaptation. I didn't mind the Tom Cruise movie, although I do understand why there are so many people who didn't like him as Reacher, but this feels so much better!

I also started watching Hotel Portofino, a British drama set in 1920's Italy. The scenery is gorgeous which fits my current taste for all things Italian.


Another busy weekend for us. Birthday lunches for family and friends on both Saturday and Sunday and on Saturday night we spent a very civilized evening sitting outside listening to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra play the music of John Williams.

In other names, there is finally some progress on our new house.I am hoping that there will be continued progress now that it is started.

Posts from the last week

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Romance Reads

I've linked this post to It's Monday, what are you reading? as hosted by Book Date

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Sunday Salon: Historical Fiction Reading Challenge - January stats

This year as part of the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge I am intending to provide some stats after each month and then at the end of the year I will do an overall wrap up for the year. That's the plan anyway. And today I am sharing a few stats about January, so I am sticking to the plan!!

During January, there were 71 reviews shared by 25 participants. Some of you, or more precisely 6 of you, have already shared more than 5 reviews which is amazing! Well done and keep it up!

In terms of the books, there were 66 individual titles reviewed, written by 64 different authors. There were several books that were reviewed multiple times. They were:

The Girl from Paris by Ella Carey - reviewed by both Yvonne at A Darned Good Read and myself

The Man in the Bunkery by Rory Clements - This is the sixth book in the Tom Wilde series and was reviewed at Secret Library Book Blog and also by Cathy at What Cathy Read Next.

The Paris Bookseller by Kerri Maher - This was reviewed by Davida at The Chocolate Lady's Book Blog and by Susan at Reading World. Paris and books! This definitely sounds like my kind of book.

The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray - This was reviewed by Constance at Staircase Wit and at Laura's Review.

The Siren of Sussex by Mimi Matthews -  reviewed by Yvonne at A Darned Good Read and at Laura's Reviews

There were 2 other authors who had more than one book reviewed in January. The first was perennial favourite Georgette Heyer whose books The Toll Gate and The Nonesuch were reviewed at Whatmeread and by Susan at Reading World respectively. Anita at Series Book Lover reviewed The Burning Chamber and The City of Tears both by Kate Mosse. 

It's not too late to join the challenge this year. You can find all the sign up details here and if you have a link to add to the challenge the February Linky can be found here.

Let me know if there is another statistic  that you would be interested in seeing each month.


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