Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Books Releasing During the Second Half of 2023

Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week the themis Most Anticipated Books Releasing During the Second Half of 2023.  Normally I have to go looking for books for this prompt but there are so many good books coming out over the next few months!

Codenamed Charming by Lucy Parker - I read the first book in this series a couple of years ago and have been waiting for this ever since.

Daisy and Kate by Meredith Appleyard - This author was at the retreat I went to last month and the book sounds good. It doesn't hurt that the cover is gorgeous.

The Girl from Portofino by Siobhan Daiko - I read The Girl from Venice a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it so I am on the lookout for this one.

Back on Track by Tricia Stringer - Another author who was at the retreat, this book is primarily set on the train that goes from Adelaide to Darwin,  The Ghan, which is a trip I would love to do at some point.

Family Lore by Elizabeth Acevedo - This is this author's first adult book. I loved the YA book I have read by her so hopefuly that this would be good.

At the Coffee Shop of Curiosities by Heather Webber - I have enjoyed this authors previous books!

Lady Tan's Circle of Women by Lisa See - So looking forward to this one. I really enjoyed her last book.

System Collapse by Martha Wells - The fact that I still haven't read the last book in the series doesn't mean that I can't be excited about this one!

The Phoenix Crown by Kate Quinn and Janie Chang
- Kate Quinn. Need I say more!

The Paris Agent by Kelly Rimmer - Very excited about this one!

Do you have any of these books on your list this week?

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Weekend Cooking: RecipeTin Eats: Dinner by Nagi Maehashi

I am not quite sure how, but I wasn't familiar with Nagi Maehashi's website RecipeTin Eats until this book was chosen as the book of the month for the Lambs Ear Cookbook Club a few months ago. I must have been living under a rock or something!

Whenever there is a new cookbook announced for the cookbook clubs I am in, I try to borrow it from the library which is what I did with this one. We picked this book up from the library and I was flicking through it in the car. By the time we got home, my husband said we need to buy this book. And he was driving!

I love the way that this cookbook is put together. For each recipe,  you obviously have ingredients and instructions on how to make the dish. In addition there is an introduction for each recipe as to why you should cook it and also notes which might be substitution suggestions, or cooking tips, and every recipe has a tip regarding leftovers. In addition, each recipe includes a QR code which you can scan and it will take you to the RecipeTin Eats blog where you will find more hints and tips including videos.

The book is broken into a number of chapters which are Everyday Food, Effortless, Stir-Fries and Noodles, What I Do with a Piece of..., Pasta and Cosy Food, Meal-worthy Salads, Mexican Food, Asian Bites and Soups, Bigger Things, Sweet Endings and Everything Else You Need.

There are just so many clever features. For example in the What I Do with a Piece of .... chapter  she takes a protein and then talks about what she would do with it. Another example is in the sweet section, there are recipes for chocolate cakes, vanilla cake and numerous other desserts, but there is also a double page spread where there are 10 different variations of buttercream frosting. In the stir fry section, she shares her formula for a good stir fry as well as her go to stir fry sauce and in the Mexican chapter there are a number of essential sauces and sides included

We have tried a few recipes so far but there are so many more that we want to try. Somewhat strangely most of the ones that we have tried are for chicken. Here's what we have tried so far:

Butter Chicken

Chorizo Potato Stew-Soup

Pad See Ew

Juiciest, Easiest Roast Chicken Ever

The most recent recipe that we tried was Creamy Tuscan Chicken Pasta Bake which was delicious the first night we made it and still delicious when it was reheated! I am planning to make it again this weekend! The kids are coming for lunch on Sunday to see my husband who had surgery this week, so this is what I will be cooking. 

If you were to scan the QR code in the cookbook for this recipe, it takes you to this page where you can watch the video associated with the recipe. I was pretty happy with how it turned out!

There is one thing that I absolutely love about this cookbook and it is nothing to do with the recipes. It is that at the back of the book, each team member who worked on the book is acknowledged, but it isn't just a list of names but rather there is a photo for each of them. It's a simple touch but so lovely.

And, of course, there's Dozer, the author's Golden Retriever who is the official taste tester! Adorable.

I am not the only one who has loved this book I am sure. After all, it made the New York Times bestseller list and won both Book of the Year and Illustrated Book of the Year at the recent Australian Book Industry Awards.

I think it is pretty obvious that I am loving cooking from the book! And I am now following her on Facebook so that I can see new recipes that come out. I sure hope she is going to publish another cookbook because I won't worry about borrowing it from the library first. That is one cookbook that will be pre-ordered!

Weekly meals

Saturday -  
Sunday -  
Monday - Creamy tuscan Chicken Bake
Tuesday - Creamy Tuscan Chicken bake
Wednesday - Pulled pork and mash
Thursday - Honey chicken and rice
Friday - Steamed fish, rice and veggie

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, June 20, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Winter to Read List

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

e is Books on My Summer 2023 to-Read List but it is winter here so this is my winter to read list.

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus - I have read quite a bit of this but I had to put it aside in order to read review books so I want to finish this. 

Happy Place by Emily Henry - I have a couple of hours left of the audiobook. I really want to finish it.

The Drifter by Anthea Hodgson - This is going to be my next audiobook.

The French Chateau Dream by Julie Caplin - Have had this author on my list for a while now!

Escape to Tuscany by Kat Deveraux - I am all about Italy right now!

Second Chances in Bellbird Bay by Maggie Christensen - The next instalment in the Bellbird Bay series

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy - This has been on my wishlist for a while so I was pleased when we were given it at a leadership event recently.

Homecoming by Kate Morton - My next read on a theme bookclub theme is Australian Authors so maybe this might be choice.

Food Americana by David Page  -  The next Cooking the Books collection.

Lost Luggage by Samantha Tonge - I had this out from the library and then realised that I already own it!

Have you read any of these?

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Weekend Cooking/Blog Tour: The Recipe for Happiness by Jane Lovering


Seren is quite happy in her small world. She enjoys her work in a day drop in centre for the elderly in her small tow. She likes living alone in the apartment above the centre.  So what if she doesn't like leaving her small town? So what if she doesn't like meeting new people? So what if she hasn't had a date in years?

Seren's brother Andrew and his husband Greg have other ideas. They are trying to encourage her to meet some new people and so they force her to join their Dungeons and Dragons group which mostly consists of a group of heavy rock musicians. They also dob her in to help out a local dog trainer.

Seren is the cook at the drop in centre, and even in that she is restricted. The regular clients who visit the centre are an interesting and varied cast of characters, but they do like their meals and treats to be exactly as it always is. One day Seren puts cheese in their mashed potato and it causes an uproar.

One new employee who has recently joined the team at the centre is Ned. Seren isn't quite sure what to make of Ned. He doesn't share a lot about himself and Seren finds herself wondering about who he might be and why he is working as a driver/handyman. Where does he live? What did he do before he started working here? Is he a serial killer just out of jail? What is his secret?

When Seren goes to help out with the dog training, she suddenly finds herself with temporary custodianship of an energetic Collie called Kez. The only problem is that there isn't really room in her one bedroom apartment above the drop in centre, and her boss doesn't know and won't approve of the dog. And having a dog means that she will need to take him for walks, and all of a sudden her world is expanding piece by piece.

In order to keep Kez,  Seren and Ned agree to pretend that Kez is his dog, and so in order to keep up the charade, they begin to take Kez further and further afield together. Soon Seren is beginning to learn more about Ned, and he is encouraging her to try to figure out what it is that causes her so much fear whenever she moves outside of her comfort zone, and that will mean unpicking some traumatic events from her childhood. And if she can work through some of those issues, she will be able to realise that she has some other dreams (including expanding her food dreams) that she has been holding back for far too long.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the setting of the drop in centre with the varied characters of the clients. For example, there is Tom who insists that he does not cheat at Scrabble, he just has a very large vocabulary. They can be an unruly rabble at times, something which Ned finds out to his detriment when he volunteers to take them for ice cream on a warm day. I liked the Yorkshire setting and I liked how gradually the truth about the each of the character's truths were revealed and their world slowly expanded.

There are a couple of Seren's recipes shared in the book, but they are almost written as stories. For example, one of the recipes is for "A Very Easy But Very Flash Cake" which is "For When You Have to Knock Out a Showstopper Cake For An Open Day (or birthday or even a wedding) At  Short Notice". Other recipes include Proper Scnes, cottage pie and Earl Grey Tea scones.

Jane Lovering is the author of more than 30 books, many of which are set in Yorkshire. When I lived in the UK, I lived in Sheffield in South Yorkshire, so I did enjoy this aspect of the book. I just purchased another one of her books, so I expect I will read more from this author soon!

Thanks to the publisher, Netgalley and Rachel's Random Resources for the review copy.

I have also linked this post up with Foodies Read hosted at Based an a True Story, British Isles Friday (hosted at Joy's Book Blog)

Rating 4/5

About the book

The Recipe for Happiness

When Seren’s brother Andrew signs her up to Yorkshire Dating, only for them to recommend that she ‘gets a life’ before they find her a match, Seren has to admit that they may have a point.

She loves her job cooking at an elder day centre and her little flat, but it’s fair to say her life is a little short of hobbies and friends. Since she was young Seren has felt safer close to home, but now she’s a thirty-something divorcee, it’s time for a change.

Change arrives in the shape of alarmingly clever collie Kez, who Seren offers to take in ‘temporarily’, and kind but mysterious new colleague Ned. But as Ned and Kez tempt Seren out of her shell, it means facing her fears. And when Andrew finally reveals the secrets of their childhood, Seren’s need for safety suddenly makes sense.

A problem shared is a problem halved, and with friends by her side, Seren might be able to get a life that she loves at last.

Purchase Link - https://mybook.to/recipehappinesssocial

About the author

Jane Lovering is the bestselling and award-winning romantic comedy writer who won the RNA Contemporary Romance Novel Award in 2023 with A Cottage Full of Secrets. She lives in Yorkshire and has a cat and a bonkers terrier, as well as five children who have now left home.

Social Media Links –

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Jane-Lovering-Author-106404969412833

Twitter https://twitter.com/janelovering

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/JaneLoveringNews

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jane-lovering

Weekly meals

Saturday -  Meatballs
Sunday -  Ratouille, couscous with chipolata
Monday - 
Tuesday - Sausages, mash and gravy
Wednesday - Pad See Ew
Thursday - Fried Chickens and chip
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

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Blog Tour: The Girl from Venice by Siobhan Daiko


When Charlotte's beloved grandmother dies, she takes on the duty of clearing out her home where she finds several unopened letters from an address in Venice. Charlotte's mother is distant but she was very close to her grandmother, and she wants to find out where her grandmother came from. She is aware that her grandmother was Italian, but that is all she knows. Her grandmother refused to talk about anything in her previous life. Charlotte therefore decides to follow the clues and heads to Venice.

Lidia de Angelis and her father live in Venice. He is a doctor and Lidia is studying to follow in his footsteps. When Lidia is excluded from university because she is Jewish, and her closest friends decide to leave, her father still doesn't believe that they are in any danger. When he is arrested Lidia goes into hiding, staying with a farming family and assuming a new identity.

Now known as Elena, she lives and works with the family, until she catches the eye of a blackshirt. Determined to protect her Elena is moved into the partisan encampment on the local mountain. With her medical skills and her excellent English she quickly becomes an integral part of the partisan organisation. 

The author takes very familiar dual timeline story elements - a family member finding old letters/photos/etc and then tracks them back to their secret life. What elevates this particular take is the setting which is in Venice and the nearby region of Veneto. The tragic events that are portrayed in the book are based on true events and the author doesn't hold back. There is no whitewashing of the events, particularly the events later in the book which are so vividly and graphically portrayed.

Generally one aspect of a dual timeline is stronger than the other. For me, that is usually the historical aspect, and that was true of this book. I liked Charlotte's story, enjoyed her connecting with some of the people who knew her grandmother and helped her unravel the hidden story. I also didn't mind the relationships that developed over the course of the book, although there was a bit of insta-love and good fortune.

Despite the tragic events portrayed, this was still a very quick read. I was able to finish it in a couple of hours while I was on a train trip to the country.

Venice is calling me at the moment. Over the last weekend I have watched three shows all about spending time in Venice and then I read this book. I have warned my husband already that we might want to start thinking about a trip to Venice next time we go to Europe, whenever that might happen. I would be keen to find some of the memorials that are mentioned, particularly the memorial to the Shoah in the Venetian Ghetto 

This isn't my first book by this author. However, the previous book was set in Hong Kong, so it is interesting to see the author moving between these two settings. Her next book is once again set in Italy, this time in Portofino. I definitely plan to read her next books, regardless of whether they are set in European or Asian WWII theatres of war.

This read counts from the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge which I host. Nice to have a read to link up this month!

Be sure to check out other stops on the blog tour

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources, the publisher and Netgalley for the review copy.

About the book

The Girl from Venice


Lidia De Angelis has kept a low profile since Mussolini’s laws wrenched her from her childhood sweetheart. But when the Germans occupy Venice, she must flee the city to save her life.

Lidia joins the partisans in the Venetian mountains, where she meets David, an English soldier fighting for the same cause. As she grows closer to him, harsh German reprisals and Lidia’s own ardent patriotic activities threaten to tear them apart.

Decades later

While sorting through her grandmother’s belongings after her death, Charlotte discovers a Jewish prayer book, unopened letters written in Italian, and a fading photograph of a group of young people in front of the Doge’s Palace.

Intrigued by her grandmother’s refusal to talk about her life in Italy before and during the war, Charlotte travels to Venice in search of her roots, There, she learns not only the devastating truth about her grandmother’s past, but also some surprising truths about herself.

Purchase Link - https://mybook.to/girlfromvenicesocial

About the author

Siobhan Daiko writes powerful and sweeping historical fiction set in Italy during the second World War, with strong women at its heart. She now lives near Venice, having been a teacher in Wales for many years.

Social Media Links –

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/siobhan.daiko.author

Twitter https://twitter.com/siobhandaiko

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/siobhandaiko_asolandobooks/

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/SiobhanDaikoNews

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/siobhan-daiko

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: Woof!

 Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week the theme is Bookish Wishes, but I am twisting the topic a bit!

Yesterday was the first birthday of our dog Max, so my theme today is all about dogs! But first, here's the birthday dog himself

So today I bring you nine books with the word dog in the title, a couple of which are and one book with a dog on the cover, including a couple of kids books.

The Snake, The Crocodile and the Dog by Elizabeth Peters

The Lost Dog by Michelle de Kretser

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Hatton

A Dog's Purpose by W Bruce Cameron

Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion

Hairy McClary from Donaldson's Dairy by Lynley Dodd

The Labrador Pact by Matt Haig

Snowy Mountains Daughter by Alyssa Callen 

Happy birthday Max!!

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Sunday Salon: Historical Fiction Reading Challenge - May statistics


Each month I share the statistics for the previous month for the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge. I always find it interesting to see what are the books that people are reading and reviewing! This month I have visited most of the reviews that have been linked up. Hopefully I can get to the rest over the weekend. 

In terms of the books, it was another really good month for reviews with 84 reviews linked up for the challenge, shared by 22 participants. This is 19 more reviews than for the same month last year. There were 81 individual titles reviewed, written by 75 different authors. There were 7 reviewers who reviewed 5 or more books each. Thank you to everyone who shared their links whether it be 7 or just 1. 

Let's move onto the books. There were 3 books that were reviewed twice during May. Interestingly, one of these books was also on our most reviewed list for last month, which is quite unusual. 

The three books that were reviewed twice were

Homecoming by Kate Morton - This was actually one of the books that was featured last month. Seeing the same book two months in a row doesn't actually happen very often. This month the book was reviewed by Bree from All the Books I Can Read and by Helen at She Reads Novels

The Castle Keepers by Aimee K Runyan, J'Nell Ciesielski and Rachel McMillan - Whenever I am doing these statistics I am never sure whether to count books with multiple authors as one author or three in this case. I seem to have landed on one for now. This book, which follows the lives of multiple generations who live in a castle was reviewed by Davida at The Chocolate Ladies Book Reviews and by Shirley on Goodreads. Each story is written by one of the authors.

The Letter Reader by Jan Casey was reviewed by Shirley on Goodreads and also by Cathy at What Cathy Read Next. This book sounds very interesting as it features someone who worked as a censor during WWII. I have never thought about the people who did this work!

There were a number of authors who were reviewed more than once but for separate titles

I was interested to see D E Stevenson reviewed 4 times this month. Barbara at Stray Thoughts review two Miss Buncle books (Miss Buncle's Book and Miss Buncle Married).  Carol from Journey and Destination reviewed The English Air and Spring Magic

It will be no surprise to regular participants to see that there were multiple reviews for Agatha Christie. This month the books reviewed were Death on the Nile which was reviewed at Laura's Reviews and Towards Zero which was reviewed at Shellie Loves Books
Daphne du Maurier

The final author to have multiple books reviewed is Martin Edwards, author of the Rachel Savanake series. Bev at My Reader's Block reviewed Blackstone Fell, which is the third book in the series whilst Cathy at What Cathy Read Next reviewed Sepulchre Street which is the fourth book in the series.

It's not too late to join the 2023 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge. The sign up post is here, and you can find the June linky to add your reviews here.

I am looking forward to seeing what people share during June. Next month, in addition to the normal monthly stats, I will share some stats at the halfway point of the challenge for this year. I know, I can't believe it either!

I am also sharing this post with Sunday Salon, hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Weekend Cooking: It's a fair question

As I read books, I often highlight quotes about food, books, places and Christmas that I save to share at some point.

Today, I am sharing a quote from The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles. This isn't a book about food at all, but there were several quotes which caught my attention. There were several book related quotes too!

I remember reading it and thinking it's definitely a fair question! Enjoy!

Coriander! said Woolly to himself with enthusiasm

For while Duchess was showing Billy how to properly stir a sauce, Woolly had set about alphabetizing the spice rack. And it didn’t take long for him to discover just how many spices begin with the letter C. In the entire rack there was only one that started with the letter A: Allspice, whatever that was. And Allspice was followed by just two spices that began with the letter B: Basil and Bay Leaves. But once Woolly moved on to spices that began with the letter C, well, it seemed there was no end to them! So far, there had been Cardamom, Cayenne, Chili Powder, Chives, Cinnamon, Cloves, Cumin, and now, Coriander.

It certainly made one wonder.

Perhaps, thought Woolly, perhaps it was like the matter of the Ws at the beginning of questions. At some point in ancient times, the letter C must have seemed particularly suitable to the names of spices.

Or maybe it was at some place in ancient times. Some place where the leter C had more sway over the alphabet. All of a sudden Woolly seemed to remember from one of his history classes that many moons ago there had been something called the Spice Route – a long and arduous trail along which tradesmen traveled in order to bring the spices of the East to the kitchens of the West. He even remembered a map with an arrow that arced across the Gobi Desert and over the Himalayas until it touched down safely in Venice, or some such spot.

That the C spices originated on the other side of the globe struck Woolly as a clear possibility, since he didn’t even know what half of them tasted like. He knew Cinnamon, of course. In fact, it was one of his favorite flavors. Not only was it used in the making of apple and pumpkin pie, it was the sine qua non of the cinnamon bun. But Cardamom, Cumin, and Coriander? These mysterious words struck Woolly as having a distinctly oriental ring.

-Aha! Said Woolly, when he discovered the bottle of Curry hiding behind the Rosemary in the second-to-last row of the rack.

For Curry was most definitely a flavor from the East.

Maybe this caught my eye because I don't mind alphabetising herbs and spices. Or labelling the jars, although a lot of them come with the name on top now!

Weekly meals

Saturday -  Out for dinner
Sunday -  Pot Roast Chicken
Monday - Pork chops, mash, beans, gravy
Tuesday - 
Wednesday - Birthday dinner
Thursday - Mexican chicken and rice
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


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