Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Back to school


Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This 

week the theme is Back to School. Our school year runs from late January to mid December so it is an unusual time for this theme for us but I am going to stick with it.

So, here are ten books which feature schooling relating words.

Kalahari Typing School for Men by Alexander McCall Smith - the fourth book in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series

The School for Heiresses - This was an anthology featuring Sabrina Jeffries, Julia London, Renee Barnard and Liz Carlyle. It's such a shame that Liz Carlyle doesn't write any more. Her books were fab. (review)

Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn - I did a joint review with Beth Fish Reads for this book which was so much fun.

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister - This book made me want to take cooking lessons! (review)

Charm School by Nelson De Mille - I read this book back in the early 1990s, as well as several other books by this author. This was a Cold War spy novel. Not sure it would hold up too well now, but I did enjoy his books a lot at the time.

Poison Study by Maria V Snyder - I could have chosen any of the Study trilogy really. (review)

The Piano Teacher by Janice Y K Lee - love the cover of this book!

Teach Me by Olivia Dade - I read this book earlier this year. It won't be my last book by this author.

French Lessons by Ellen Sussman - I don't remember much about this book but to be fair I did read it 11 years ago.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R Covey - I did this as part of a leadership program through work a few years ago now.

Blog Tour: Starting Over in Bellbird Bay by Maggie Christensen


I am running very late with my post for this tour, so my apologies are due to Rachel from Rachel's Random Resources and Maggie Christensen. The reason I am late is because I was moving house.

Cleo Johansen also moved but for far different reason than I have. Cleo and her daughter Hannah moved to the beachside town following the death of her American born husband Stan. Together Hannah and Cleo had built a life together, but now Hannah is moving out of home into a share house and Cleo is feeling a bit lost.

One of the men that Hannah is going to share a house with is Owen, the son of Will Rankin. Will runs a surf school on the beach for people of all ages and abilities and is something of a local legend. When one of his students takes more than a shine to him, a mutual friend suggests that he pretends to be involved with Cleo to deter her. But what happens if all that does is antagonise the woman?

At first Cleo is reluctant but the more time she spends with Will the more she likes him, but she's not sure about moving forward with a relationship. 

There is a lot going on in this book. There's an environmental fight to save a pristine bay that is home to nesting turtles from a high rise development,  there's a stalker, there's some missing girls which is sparking safety fears in the town and then there is the mysterious American woman who has a connection to Stan. And when some of these events threaten to get in the way for Will and Cleo, they need to decide if what they have is worth fighting for.

It is always a pleasure to get lost in the towns that Maggie Christensen creates. Her books are easy, pleasurable reads which feature older characters taking a chance for happiness when it comes their way! The town is full of people who you could easily imaging spending a fun night around a dinner table or at a pub or even just having a chat with as you wander around town.

I am already looking forward to the next book in the series!

My thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the review copy of this book.

Rating 4/5

About the book

Starting Over in Bellbird Bay

Following the death of her husband, Cleo Johansen and her daughter moved to Bellbird Bay determined to make a new start. Having carved out a new life, Cleo is shattered when a shadow from her husband’s past throws their lives into disarray.

Will Rankin has lived in Bellbird Bay all his life. Now widowed, the former surf champion runs the local surf school and enjoys a close relationship with his son. Content to lead a single life, the appearance of an undesirable stranger is quick to upset his peaceful existence.

While neither Will nor Cleo is interested in forming a new relationship, an unexpected attraction surfaces when a mutual friend suggests they spend more time together.

Set against a background of sun, sea and sand, can Cleo and Will find a way to move forward together?

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

Purchase Link - getbook.at/StartingOverinBellbird


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. Maggie has been called the queen of mature age fiction and 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, Maggie was lured to Australia by the call to ‘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 –





Monday, August 29, 2022

This Week....

I'm reading....

Life has gotten in the way a few times recently so it has been a couple of weeks since my last Monday post. That sounds like a confession of sorts right?

I have been doing a lot of driving lately so I have made some good progress with listening to An Island Wedding by Jenny Colgan, the latest book in the series set on the island of Mure. I really enjoy this series. Hopefully I will get some more listening in this week.

I did finish reading Starting Over in Bellbird Bay by Maggie Christensen last week, and I am just a few days behind posting the review! Must get onto that.

The current selection for the Cook the Books group is Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, so I started reading that over the weekend. I did buy a version from Amazon which was very strange. It had a 3-4 page summary of the story and then 3 poems,  not written by Lewis Carroll. Needless to say I will be returning this one. I am now reading one from Project Gutenberg.

I'm watching....

We have been watching a bit of this and that. I did finish Sweet Magnolias and now I am several issues into the latest season of Virgin River.

We had all the fun of setting up a new TV so have been setting up all the apps which has reminded me of how many things there are on all the apps that I either need to finish or start!


We made a quick trip to Adelaide for my brother's belated 40th birthday last weekend which you can see some pics here.

The big news is ....... we moved house!!

We are mostly moved in and unpacked enough to be able to live. There are plenty of boxes in the garage, the wardrobes need to be reorganised, and a few other things, but we are in. I do need to get used to the noises here at night!

Posts from the last week

Weekend Cooking: A Quick Trip to Adelaide

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

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Weekend Cooking: A quick trip to Adelaide

 Last weekend my husband, my sister and I undertook a quick roadtrip to Adelaide for my brother's belated 40th birthday celebrations. 

Normally when we do this drive, it is get in the car and drive, only stopping at certain designated places. This time, because it was my husband's first time of travelling this road we stopped a lot to see various sights along the way. Here are a couple of photos:

First, there is the Big Koala (Australia likes big things) which I prefer to call the scary koala! We also added 3 more  of the art silos to our list, with the bonus of painted sheep all through the town of Horsham! You can see other examples of silos we have seen before in these posts.

I am aware that this is a Weekend Cooking post, so here are 5 food related things from our trip to Adelaide

1. Delicious pasta - We didn't book anywhere for dinner on our first night in Glenelg, so we just went to an Italian restaurant around the corner from the hotel. This was Fettucine Al Pollo - so good.

2. No more bowls of coffee - The last two times we have been to Adelaide, we have gone to a cafe called Swedish Tarts where the highlight for my husband has been the ability to have a bowl of coffee (literally). They don't do the bowls anymore (insert sad face here).

3. Burrata - Until a couple of weeks ago I don't believe I had ever heard of burrata, then I heard of it twice! So, when it was on the menu I knew we had to try it, and it was totally delicous. Creamy cheese, delicous bread, balsamic vinegar and heirloom tomatoes. I was kind of expecting it to be served warm, but it wasn't. Unfortunately I didn't think to take a picture of the cheese ball before I cut into it. I guess that means I need to order one again!

4. After a really good steak dinner, it was time for dessert and I chose "Davidson plum and rhubarb crumble with  pepperberry custard, macadamia & honey ice cream, freeze dried davidson plum powder, murray river salted tuille". Oh my goodness, this was so good!

6. Hahndorf - On the Saturday we went for a drive through the Adelaide Hills. There are plenty of foodie places through the hills. We decided to visit the town of Hahndorf which is famous for it's German heritage. I was hoping to have something distinctly German for afternoon tea but instead I had a giant cream donut. So delicious!

Whilst in Hahndorf we visited the Fruchoc shop. What you might ask is a Fruchoc - well,  it is a South Australian favourite. It is a small ball of a paste made from dried apricot and peach which is then covered in chocolate and my South Australian friends go mad for it! We bought home a bag but havne't cracked it open yet!

On the way home we took a detour to a historical railway station in a tiny town called Serviceton. Once upon a time, it was a bustling border station between Victoria and South Australia where people changed trains. I have seen the sign for the station so many times but this was the first time we visited. What an interesting place!

 Weekly meals

Saturday - Birthday dinner
Sunday -   Beef brisket rolls
Monday - Butter Chicken Pizza
Tuesday - 
Wednesday - Mexican Chicken and Rice
Thursday - Stir Fry
Friday - Takeaway

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, August 23, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Series that I just sort of stopped reading


Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This 

week the theme is Completed Series I Wish Had More Books. I have decided to twist it a little bit and talk about the series that I kind of, sort of, just stopped reading. It wasn't a conscious decision to stop, but just haven't picked up the next book in the series.... yet. In some cases it has been 10 years or more since I stopped.There's still time right?

The last book I read in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series was The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection which is book no. 13 in the series by Alexander McCall Smith. Book number 23 is due to be released this year. Just a little bit behind then.

The last book I read in the Play by Play series by Jaci Burton was Quarterback Draw which is book no. 9 in the series. It does look as though the series has ended at book no. 14. This is especially strange given that this was one of the few contemporary series I was reading a few years ago. Now I am reading lots! Just not sports ones!

I used to wait with great excitement for the next Diana Gabaldon book to come out. I would buy it as soon as I saw it in the shops. I still haven't bought the latest book in the Outlander series let alone read it!

I listened to the first two books in Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall trilogy on audio. Goodness knows when I will get to the third one.

This is another trilogy where I have read the first two books in the trilogy and meant to read the third one, Ambulance Girls At War by Deborah Burrows. I did borrow this book from the library at least twice but still didn't read it.

I read and loved Dear Banjo by Sasha Wasley, the first book in the Daughters of the Outback trilogy, a few years ago. Still haven't read the other two books in the series. I have bought other books by Wasley since then too!

I have read the first 18 books in the Virgin River series by Robyn Carr at least twice. So why haven't I read the last book that was released a couple of years ago yet.

I have read a lot of books by Lisa Kleypas over the years. The last book I read in The Ravenels series was the third book, Devil in Spring. There are now seven books in the series. One of the issues is that I just don't read a lot of historical romance any more.

I have read the first 3 books in the Study series by Maria VSnyder twice, including a couple of years ago when I read them in anticapation of moving onto the next book in the series. Still haven't  read the next book which is sometimes referred to as the first book in the Glass trilogy or as part of the bigger overall series, Chronicals of Ixia.

A series that I really can't understand why I stopped reading is the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters. I loved them so much. I read up to The Golden One, book 14, and then just stopped. I feel like I would have to reread a lot of them before I could pick up the next next book in the series. The series ended up being 20 books long.

Do you ever just stop reading a series without meaning to?

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Weekend Cooking: Tisdagsklubben (Tuesday Club)

I have a friend who I go to the movies with quite regularly. We like to go to a place in the city where they show a mixture of new films, foreign and art house style films. Everytime we go we look at the next foreign film festival and say we really need to go to see a movie at the next film festival. And then generally we don't!

When we went to see Where the Crawdads Sing recently we saw that the Scandinavian Film Festival was on and so we had our normal conversation of we really should go and see something. There were several films that look really good, including a Danish film about a husband and wife restauranteur starting Nickolaj Coster-Waldau (from Game of Thrones) called A Taste of Hunger.

In the end, I decided to go to see this film by myself on a Sunday afternoon as my friend wasn't available and my lovely husband was doing something else. I am so glad I did as it was a delightful film to watch.

Karin is apparently happily married to Sten and they are celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary when she finds out that maybe he isn't as happy married as she was. Unfortunately, when she shows him the evidence he injures himself and ends up in hospital. Their daughter, Frederika, who is most definitely a papa's girl,  is surprised by how disinterested her mother is in her husband's condition.

When she is reluctantly visiting Sten in hospital, she runs into an old friend from school, Monika. Monika has long been a free spirit, moving from country to country. She has come home to be with her dying mother and needs to stay long enough to sort everything out. She is also very persistent and won't take no for an answer and so Monika convinces Karin to go to dinner with her. After a delicious dinner, they see that the chef is running cooking classes, so they sign up, along with their other friend Pia. 

Over the course of the cooking classes, Karin is reminded of her passion for food, and meets an assorted group of participants. Heading the class is the chef, Henrik, who is very much the grumpy chef who want thing only done his way, He too has recently returned home but he is not sure that he has made the right decision in doing so.

The food that is cooked in the class looks mouth wateringly gorgeous. So many colourful,delicious looking dishes that I am sure tasted amazing! This movie isn't only about the food though. It is about following your passions, about friendships, both new and old, about starting over and taking chances.

It is a rom-com, and it is true to the genre, as you would expect. I would, however, say that it is a superior example. There is humour, has a great soundtrack, including a boot scooting version The Look by Roxette.

The cast is amazing, although I will say that Frederika was a bit of a pain, but she came good at the end. I especially loved where it looked like her story was going!

If you find this available on a streaming service near you, then you could do a lot worse than spend just over an hour and a half watching this film!

The cinema recently starting advertising their Italian film festival, and I already have my eye on at least one film.

 Weekly meals

Sunday - Roast beef and veggies
Monday - Chicken enchiladas
Tuesday - Pork chops, mash, beans and gravy
Thursday - Pepper beef pie
Friday - Out for dinner

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, August 16, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Love That Are More Than 10 Years Old


Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week the theme is Books I Love That ARe More Than 10 Years Old. 

I don't really read a lot of old books, so I decided to tweak the theme a little and share the last ten books I have read that are more than 10 years old. It just so happens that this list includes some books that I loved!!

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones - (published in 1986). I read this earlier this year as part of March Magic. I did see that the movie version of this is currently on Netflix so I might watch it soon.

Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran- (published in 2005) I read this a couple of years ago now for Cook the Books (review here)

Poison Study by Maria V Snyder (also Magic Study and Fire Study) - (published in 2005) I decided I was going to reread this series, and then carry on to read the next books in the series. I did the re-read part, but still haven't read the next books in the series. (review here)

Henrietta's War by Joyce Dennys - (published in 1985) - This was originally a series of stories published during WWII and then republished in this form 

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl - (published in 1961) I actually listened to Taika Waititi and his famous friends read this story back in the early days of the pandemic!

The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta - (published 2010) - I have listened to this on audio several times now. Might just about be time for another listen!

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley - (published 2008) - Yay! Another opportunity to mention this book! (review)

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett - (published 1990) - So much fun. I have watched the TV adaptation twice so far.

Sylvester by Georgette Heyer - (published 1957)- There are a couple of Georgette Heyer books which have been narrated on abridged audio by Richard Armitage - my idea of aural bliss! Highly recommended. (review here)

Ross Poldark by GrahamWinston - (published 1945) - I read this after watching some of the TV series.

I am looking forward to seeing what books other participants have on their lists.


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