Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I'd Love Another Book From

Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader GirlThis week's theme is Authors I’d Love a New Book From (These could be authors that have passed away, who have retired from writing, who have inexplicably gone quiet, or who might jut not be able to keep up with how quickly you read their books!)

The first five authors I have mentioned are people who have passed away.

Terry Pratchett - When I was looking at the website, I saw that they have found a "lost" book so there will be something new.

Ariana Franklin - This is an example of a series where a family member continued the series after the author's death.

Sharon Kay Penman - While we will never have a new SKP book, I do still have a couple of books still to read.

Susan Vreeland - I really liked this authors take on historical fiction.

Carlos Ruiz Zafon - I did love Shadow of the Wind so hard

And the next few just don't seem to be writing anymore

Lisa Kleypas - There's an irony that I have three historical romance readers on this list because I just don't really read this genre anymore.

Liz Carlyle - I used to love Liz Carlyle's books but there hasn't been a new one for years now.

Loretta Hill - This author was writing rural fiction featuring women working in really interesting jobs before she just stopped writing.

Laura Florand - A while ago I was going through a huge reading slump and there were only two authors who I was still reading. Laura Florand was one of those.

Tessa Dare - In theory there is going to be another Tessa Dare book but it does keep on getting delayed. The release date is now 3036

Monday, May 20, 2024

This week....

I'm reading

I overcommitted myself with blog tours this month, so I have been trying to get a lot of reading done so that I can publish four, yes four, reviews this week. I have finished two of the books, am part way through the third, and still need to start the fourth book. There's still time. At least that is what I am telling myself.

The books that I did finish last week were A Wedding in the Sun by Leonie Mack and Come Fly With Me by Helen Rolfe. I have read a number of Leonie Mack books now and I really enjoy them. This was my first Helen Rolfe book, and I have to say I loved the setting of this one. 

Now I am reading A New Dawn at Owl's Lodge by Jessica Redland. I haven't read this author before and I was seduced by the fact that it was the first book in a new series, but it is clear that it is connected to a previous series.

We did have book club this weekend. The theme was a book from a writer who is attending a writers festival. I read Before We Say Goodbye by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, and started listening to Song of the Sun God by Shankari Chandran on audiobook. The new theme is books in translation. I am pretty sure I have a few options either in French or Japanese! And I have a Dutch book as well I think. Oh, and I have a Korean book as well. I don't think I am going to struggle to find options to read.

Here's a couple of other books that others in the group read. 

I'm watching

We watched the first episode of Shogun this week. I dare say that we will continue with this week. Maybe.

We also watched a one off special called Britain by the Book which is hosted by Mel Giedroyc, one of the original Great British Bake Off hosts, and Martin Clunes. It was all about the literary history of Dorset. It was a lot of fun


I am still visiting the doctor most days, but I think the end is in sight at least.

I am going to a reader retreat in June and the theme on the Friday night is Op Shop Glam. I am not an op shopper at all, so this was way outside my comfort zone, but I did find two dress options. 

Posts from the last week

Top Ten Tuesday: Unread Books on my Kindle - Part Two

Blog Tour: One Greek Summer Wedding by Mandy Baggot

Cook the Books: Mastering The Art of French Murder by Colleen Cambridge

Sunday Salon: Melbourne Writers Festival 2024

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

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Sunday Salon: Melbourne Writers Festival

Last week it was Melbourne Writers Festival. I do try to attend a least one event each year at the festival, although sometimes it is easier than others to find sessions which sounded interesting. When I first saw the program for this year, the two authors I really wanted to see were Toshikazu Kawaguchi and Shankari Chandran. Whilst I was able to see Toshikazu Kawaguchi, the Chandran session was sold out. Maybe next time. 

We ended up going two sessions. The first session was Irish writer Paul Murray, author of The Bee  Sting and American writer Bryan Washington, author of Family Meal,  who were talking to Australian author Toni Jordan. The theme for the Festival this year is Ghosts, and this session was Familiar Haunts, and so the authors spoke about literal and figurative ghosts in their respective books. Interestingly, at book club today, one of the members had read The Bee Sting and highly recommends it, so that is the book out of these two that I am most likely to read.

The session I was most looking forward to, and that I most enjoyed, was the session with Toshikazu Kawaguchi. It was an absolute pleasure from the moment he took to the stage with a cheeky wave to the crowd, until the very end! The whole crowd hung on every word. Of course, he was there to talk about the very popular series that starts with Before the Coffee Gets Cold. 

The conversation was really interesting, ranging from talking about Kawaguchi's work on the stage to his disbelief of being in Australia. He also shared a number of secrets about the book. For example, the first book,  Before the Coffee Gets Cold, was originally a screenplay which makes perfect sense when you think about how the book is only set with in the four walls of the cafe. He also shared how the ghost in the story came to be, and that he never really intended to write books. 

One of the interesting things he talked about was the rule in the books which says that even going back to the past can't change what has already happened. When asked about this Kawaguchi talked about it not being about changing the future but rather about being able to move to a different acceptance about what has happened when you return to the present. It's a lovely sentiment.

Obviously, Kawaguchi is Japanese, and so there needed to be a translator and he did such a great job, and was part of what made the session so much fun. The host would ask a question that would be translated, and then you would see Kawaguchi laughing as he responded, and then the translator would laugh, and then when the crown got the translation we would also laugh! 

There was a suggestion that there maybe some kind of TV or movie in the offing, but apparently there is already a Japanese movie version which I am going to need to try to find.

I have just finished listening to the fourth book in the series, so I was very excited to hear that the English translation of book number five is on it's way and should be out in a few months, and that he is currently writing book number six.

And what do you do after a session like this. Well, of course you go for ramen! Delicious!

I am so glad that I did make the effort to attend these sessions!

Have you attended a writers festival in your home town?

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Weekend Cooking/Cook the Books: Mastering the Art of French Murder by Colleen Cambridge


A recipe for murder


A fab opening line

Paris setting

Two close friends (one of whom happens to be Julia Childs)

Fabulous food

A body in the basement

A grumpy police detective

A dash of post war intrigue

Some fun secondary characters


Take two American women who have become best friends after meeting in Paris. Add in a late night party, a missing knife, a body in the basement.

Add a very serious Parisian detective who turns up the heat of suspicion on our main character and then mix in a suspicion of espionage

Cook under pressure, until things begin to boil.

Sprinkle with misdirection

Season with a quest to perfect mayonnaise and lessons on how to make a perfect omelette.

When this book was announced as the current choice for Cook the Books, I was very pleased. I have been reading this author for years, following her through various identities and sub genres. I was also keen to read this because I loved the idea of having Julia Child as one of the characters. 

Right from the opening paragraphs I expected this book to be fun:

Julia Child had a mayonnaise problem.

I knew all about it - every sordid detail - because, first, I was one of her closest friends in Paris, and second....well, I wouldn't be surprised if everyone in the seventh arrondisement - from the Place due Palais-Bourbon to the Tour Eiffel - had heard about the mayonnaise problem. Julia was just that kind of person. She was gregarious and ebullient and giddy and enthusiastic.

Tabitha Knight moved to Paris in 1949, and almost immediately made friends with Julia Child, who would later become known for her work on TV cooking shows. At this point, Julia is attending classes in Paris. When she is not cooking up a storm, Julia is attempting to both teach Tabitha to cook, and to encourage her to try and meet a good man!

After a late night party at Julia and Paul's apartment with Julia's theatre loving sister, Dort, Tabitha stumbles across the body of another woman who was at the party.  She is found dead in the basement and most damningly, one of Julia Child's distinctive knives is found too. The French police, in the form of Inspector Merveille, are instantly suspicious that either Tabitha or Julia were involved in the murder, and so Tabitha needs to prove their innocence. Her natural curiosity soon leads her into investigating the crime, and draws her into an English speaking theatre world and a far reaching conspiracy.

Whilst I enjoyed all the characters, I think my favourites have to have been Tabitha's grandfather and her "oncle" (as in a very close friend of the family). Tabitha and the two gentleman share the house along with their adorable pets.  It is inferred that the two men got up to all sorts of things in the war, and still have many contacts in all sorts of places, which come in handy whilst Tabitha is kind of sort of investigating the crime. Luckily, this is the first in a series so I am hopefully we learn more about them in future books.

I had been intending to try making a Julia Child recipe since I watched the TV series Julia last year. I still haven't actually watched the second series yet! One day.

When it came to deciding which recipe to cook, there were so many options. I did consider trying to make mayonnaise, which I have never done before, and I considered making the omelette which Julia tried so hard to teach to Tabitha in the book. I still intend to try to do both, but in the end I decided on a classic French recipe, Boeuf Bourguignon.

Here is the original recipe, as  far as I can tell anyway!

Boeuf Bourguignon  (Julia Childs)

8 oz bacon chopped 
4 tbsp olive oil
3 lbs stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes.
1 large carrot, sliced 
1 onion sliced.
1 pinch salt and fresh ground pepper
2 tbsp plain flour
3 cups red wine
3 cups beef stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 tsp thyme
14 oz pearl onions, 18 to 24.
3.5 tbsp butter
1 herb bouquet (bay leaf, 2 sprigs thyme, 4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, tied together.)
1 lb brown or white mushrooms, quartered.

Preheat your oven to 450°. Simmer the bacon lardons in a pot of water for about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and let them drain on some paper towels.

Over medium heat, saute the cooked bacon in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for about 3 minutes. You'll want it to be lightly brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Take the beef cubes and pat them dry using a paper towel. Then, working in batches, sear the meat on all sides over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven. Then set it aside with the bacon.

In the same Dutch oven, saute the sliced onions and carrots over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add a little more olive oil (or butter) if necessary. Return the bacon and the seared meat back to the pot and sprinkle in about 1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt and about 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper.

Sprinkle the flour in and toss. Place in the oven, uncovered, for 4 minutes. Remove the pot fro the oven, toss again, and place back in the oven for another 4 minutes. Then, remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 325°.

Pour the wine and the stock into the pot. You'll want enough so the meat is just barely covered. Then, stir in the tomato paste, crushed garlic, and thyme leaves. Bring this to a light simmer on the stove, then cover and place in the oven for 3 to 4 hours, until the meat is fork tender.

About an hour before you take the stew out of the oven, use a medium-size saute pan and heat 1.5 tablespoons of butter with 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the pearl onions and cook until they are golden-brown, about 10 minutes. Then stir in 1/2 cup of beef broth, a pinch of salt and pepper, and the herb bouquet. Gently saute for another 30 to 40 minutes, until the small onions are soft.

Remove the pearl onions from the pan and set aside. Discard the herb bouquet and add the remaining butter and oil to the pan, over medium heat. Stir in the mushrooms and saute for about 5 minutes until they are soft. Remove the mushrooms and set aside with the pearl onions.

When the meat and vegetables are ready to come out of the oven, place a colander over a large pan and strain the liquid from the meat. Set the meat aside and bring the pan of liquid to a low simmer for about 5 minutes. Place the beef and vegetables back into the Dutch oven, then pour the sauce over that mixture. Stir in the pearl onions and mushrooms, and bring to a low simmer for 5 or 10 minutes.

Serve at this time or allow it to cool and refrigerate for a day or two before serving. The flavor will get better and develop with a little time.

I don't think I have ever seen pearl onions in the shops here, so we ended up using shallots instead of pearl onion, but other than we stuck mostly to the recipe. 

I did pick up a couple of handy hints by reading various different versions of this recipe. We have a few different beef stews that we make, some of which include mushrooms. I have never seen a recipe where you fry off the mushrooms and then add into the pot for only a short time towards the end of the cook. By doing this, you end up still having a firmish texture on the mushrooms.  The other thing that we have never done before was removing all the meat and then straining the sauce. The sauce looked smooth and glossy. It was amazing.

When I went to the shops to buy the ingredients. I was quite shocked by how much I had spent on what in theory was just one meal. In the end though we ended up having this for dinner two nights and I had the last bit for lunch as well. And the dogs got a bit of the gravy on their dinner too, so it didn't work out too badly in the end. What I didn't do, is remember to take a photo but it is difficult to take a photo of a casserole that looks good!

Here's Julia cooking the recipe back in the very first episode of her TV show.

I am sharing this recipe with Historical Fiction Reading Challenge and with Foodie Reads hosted by Based on a True Story

Weekly meals

Saturday - Boeuf Bourguignon
Sunday - Boeuf Bourguignon
Monday - Creamy Mustard Pork with mash, mushrooms and broccoli
Tuesday - Green Chicken Curry Pie
Wednesday -Tomato and Rice Soup
Thursday - Pork Nachos
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, May 15, 2024

Blog Tour: One Greek Summer Wedding by Mandy Baggot


When talented singer Cara was humiliated whilst on stage in front of a television audience of millions, there was no way that she could have known that there was more pain to come. After her partner ghosted her, she has basically withdrawn from life. She's given up singing, and she is pretty much allowing her aunt Margot to lead her life.

When Margot announces that they are off to Greece tomorrow, Cara goes along with the plan. It is only once they are there that she finds that they are going to a wedding. Cara can't quite join all the dots together as to why they would be invited to a wedding at the last minute. 

It turns out that Margot has an agenda, or actually, a couple of different agendas.  And whilst Margot does have the best of intentions, Cara can't help but feeling like she has been railroaded, and her anxiety is ramping up.

Soon after arriving in Corfu, Cara meets Akis Diakos. When she meets him, he is dressed as a priest, but he is anything but...for now. Akis has plenty of advice to help Cara face her fears, but he has his own dilemnas. He must make a huge decision. If he decides one way he will change his life completely. The other could mean a curse that would impact his entire family

As Margot and Cara criss-cross the Greek Islands in search of a deal, Cara has to learn to trust Akis, and slowly begin to believe in herself again. He has to navigate the difficult family relationship dynamics which are especially bought to the fore by his mother's desire for her son, Akis' brother, to have the perfect wedding!

If I had to pick just one word to describe this book then it would be madcap. There are last minute dashes from one exotic location to another, there are glamourous events, there is a donkey named Pig and so much more.

I've read a couple of Mandy Baggot books now. I love the way that she portrays the life, food and culture of Greece, and there is no doubt that her books are lots of fun. And given that I read this while laid up in hospital, fun is exactly what I needed! Bring on the next one!

I am sharing this review with the New Release Challenge hosted at The Chocolate Lady's Book Reviews. 

Thanks to the publisher, Netgalley and Rachel's Random Resources for the opportunity to read a review copy of this book. Check out other stops on the blog tour to see what they thought of this book!

Rating 4/5

About the book
One Greek Summer Wedding

Love is in the air…

When singer Cara is invited to a big, fat Greek wedding in Corfu, she sees it as a mixed blessing: some time to heal on the beautiful Greek island with her aunt will be a tonic, but it’s going to stir up memories – of before Seb ghosted her and disappeared off the face of the earth.

Akis Diakos, brother of the groom, should be looking forward to planning the bachelor party, but burdened by the weight of family expectation, his mind is elsewhere: he has a decision to make – one that could, apparently, ruin his little brother’s life forever.

When Cara learns that her aunt Margot brought her here under false pretences, she’s faced with a dilemma. She’s not sung in public since that fateful day at Eurovision when her life fell apart, and she’s not planning to now. But with Akis’s encouragement, it’s time for both of them to face up to their fears.

And who knows – maybe this beautiful duet will also lead to a beautiful romance?

From the queen of Greek romance comes a story that will heal those heartstrings and make you believe in love again…

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

About the author

Mandy Baggot is an international bestselling and award-winning romance writer represented by Tanera Simons of The Darley Anderson Literary, TV and Film Agency.

Mandy is best-known for her laugh-out-loud romantic comedies featuring strong heroines, gorgeous heroes and always that happy-ever-after!

The winner of the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK's Festival of Romance, her novel, One Wish in Manhattan, was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists' Association Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year award in 2016. Mandy's books have so far been translated into Bulgarian, Czech, German, Hungarian and Italian.

Mandy loves the Greek island of Corfu where she has a home. She also loves wine, cheese, Netflix, handbags and horse racing. Also a singer, she has taken part in ITV1's Who Dares Sings and The X-Factor. Most recently, Mandy took part in BBC1's Ready Steady Cook with Greek celebrity chef, Akis Petretzikis.

Mandy is a member of the Society of Authors and splits her time between living in Wiltshire, UK and Corfu, Greece.

Visit Mandy's website at www.mandybaggot.com

Social Media Links –

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mandybaggotauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mandybaggot

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

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

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/mandy-baggot

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday: Unread Books on My Kindle - Part Two

Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's theme is Favorite Book Quotes (You can pick your favorite quotes from books, or about books! You can set a theme like quotes from books about love, friendship, hope, etc. or you can just share quotes you loved from your recent reads!). I don't often keep note of quotes so I am going rogue again this week .... yes, again!!!

A couple of weeks ago there was a theme which was Unread Books on My Shelves I Want to Read Soon. I chose to focus only on the books that are on my Kindle. At the time, I said I could easily do this topic again, so I am going to! So here are ten more books that have been languishing on my Kindle that I would buy again!

You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlane - I actually have a couple of her books on my Kindle

The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth - I feel like it is a bit sacrilegious to have not read any of Sally Hepworth's books

The Familiars by Stacy Halls - Stacy Halls writes such interesting sounding books!

The Pearl of Penang by Clare Flynn - I have all three of the books in this series. I am keen to read these because of the setting.

Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley  - To be honest I am a bit shocked that this book is on my list. I love Susanna Kearsley, and was very excited when she announced a new book just this week, only to realise that I still haven't read this book.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles - I read Lincoln Highway a while ago, but haven't managed to read this one yet. 

The Pretty Delicious Cafe by Danielle Hawkins - I really must read this.

The Naturalists Daughter by Tea Cooper - I actually have a few Tea Cooper books to read.

Clap When You land by Elizabeth Acevedo - I loved With the Fire On High so much when I read it, I pre-ordered this book....and still haven't read it!

The Lost Girls of Devon by Barbara O'Neal - I have a few books by this author too!

Monday, May 13, 2024

This week....


This weekend was Melbourne Writers Festival in Melbourne and I was lucky enough to go to two sessions. the first was Irish author Paul Murray and American author Bryan Washington talking about their latest books, The Bee Sting and Family Meal respectively.

The other was Japanese author Toshikazu Kawaguchi who wrote the hugely successful Before the Coffee Gets Cold series. It was an absolute delight to attend this session! My plan is to write more about both of these session next week. 

In other news I have to go to the doctor every day, but other than that my recovery from my hospital visit last week has gone quite well!

We did go the beach last night to try looking for Southern Lights. There was us and several thousand other people. I haven't seen that many people at that beach since the last time there were fireworks for Australia day which would have been at least 15 years ago! Unfortunately, we were not lucky enough to see them. Maybe another time!

I'm reading

After a bumper reading week last week, mainly due to enforced rest, I really haven't read much at all this week. I am making some progress on The Shakespeare Sisters by Juliet Greenwood, but not enough. I need to get a wriggle on so that I can read my upcoming review books, otherwise I will start to the feel the pressure.

I'm watching

I was very excited this week. I found not one but two new Bake Offs. We have watched the Canadian Bake Off before but I didn't realise a new series was coming. The other was the South African version which I have never seen before!

We also started watching the third series of Welcome to Wrexham. Even though I know what happened during the season, I still can't wait to see how it all plays out during the TV show.

We went to watch a film that is showing as part of the German Film Festival last night. It was called From Hilde, With Love and it is based on a true story. I have wondered for a long time what kind of stories authors from countries like Germany tell about significant events like WWII. This was a German film telling a German story and it was very interesting. There were some things that I found really surprising. For example, there wasn't a single bomb dropped during the movie, mainly because during the time when the movie was set the war was elsewhere in Europe. My husband actually really enjoyed this and we had a really robust conversation about it on the way home.

Here's the trailer

Posts from the last week

Top Ten Tuesday: May Flowers

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Sunday Salon: Historical Fiction Reading Challenge - April statistics


For the last couple of years I have been sharing statistics each month for the Historical challenge, and my plan is to continue to do this again this year. I find it interesting to see what are the books that people are reading and reviewing! I think I have visited almost all the reviews submitted and have added a couple of books to never ending TBR list

In terms of the books, there were 47 reviews linked up for the challenge, shared by 18 participants. This is less than for the same month last year and previous months but I am sure we will catch up! There were 46 individual titles reviewed, written by 44 different authors. There were 3 reviewers who reviewed more than 5 books each. Thank you to everyone who shared their links whether it be 8 or just 1.

So which book was reviewed more than once in April? It was actually the first two links that were added and the book was A Noble Scheme by Roseanna M. White. This is the second book in her The Impostors series.

A Noble Scheme was reviewed at Laura's Reviews and also at Stray Thoughts.

There were two other authors who were review more than once this month. The first was perenial favourite Agatha Christie and the other was Verity Bright. Every time I see one of the covers for a Verity Bright book I can't help but think how good they look!

I am sharing this post with Sunday Salon hosted at Readerbuzz.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Weekend Cooking: Around the World

A few weeks ago, I reviewed Meliz's Kitchen by Meliz Berg and I mentioned I really like books that talk about specific places and cultures. I love reading the introductions where they talk about going fishing with their grandfather, or cooking with their favourite auntie or whatever the story is. So today I thought I would talk a little about some of those books that I have in my cookbook collection.

Now, not all of them are written by people who come from the country or region, but the ones that aren't are written by people who have grown to love that particular culture.

The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden - I have had this book on my shelves for years, and I am not sure I have ever cooked anything from it, but I do distinctly remember looking through this and loving it! Time to take a stroll through the pages and the regions of Spain!

Norteña by Karla Zazueta - This is my latest addition, and features the cuisine of Northern Mexico. I find it interesting that this is so specifically about just the north, but I guess that Mexico is a big country with lots of different specialities across the country.

Trullo by Tim Siadatan - This is an Italian cookbook, and I must confess that I haven't spent a lot of time in the pages of this one!

Yiayia: Time Perfected Recipes from Greek Grandmothers by Anastasia Miari - So many delicious sounding dishes in this one. I was surprised though that there are not recipes for Moussaka or Pasticcio in this book! I will keep on the search for the perfect recipe.

Rice Table: Korean Recipes and Stories to Feed the Soul by Su Scott - Moving away from Europe temporarily, this is obviously Korean food. We have made a few things out of this including Kimchi fried rice, and some really delicious roasted baby potatoes. I must make them again!

The Italian Pantry by Theo Randall - This  book contains one of our favourite meatball recipes. We made it again this week and it is so good.

Meliz's Kitchen by Meliz Berg - Somehow I managed to not include this book in the photo even though this is where my pondering started today. Never mind. This book is all Turkish-Cypriot recipes and we have cooked quite a few things from this book.

Do you have a favourite cookbook about other parts of the world?

Weekly meals

Saturday - Chorizo and Potato Soup Stew
Sunday -
Monday -
Tuesday - Out for dinner
Wednesday - Butter chicken
Thursday - Baked Ratatouille and Beans
Friday - Out for dinner

You might notice that I have a new button for Weekend Cooking. I actually have a couple of different versions which is nice! I really like them. I did however want to give Melynda from Scratch Made Food who made the button that I was using for a few years. Thanks 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

Friday, May 10, 2024

Blog Tour: The Restaurant in Pelican Crossing by Maggie Christensen

Poppy Taylor has been successfully running her restaurant, Crossings, on her own for 5 years. Originally the restaurant was owned by her parents but then she and her husband had been transforming it into a new style of restaurant when he suddenly passed away, leaving Poppy to continue raising their daughters and building a successful business. She has been happy enough with her life. She has her three lovely daughters, and good friends, especially her husband's best friend Cam. Cam is always there for Poppy, no matter what she needs. But what happens if she acts on her growing attraction to him. Will it ruin their friendship, and is that a risk she is willing to take?

Cam has also been single for a long time, after his wife left him for a woman. He too has been busy raising his son and building his business managing a marina. He has long been attracted to Poppy, but he is not willing to start anything with her without a sign from her. Now, his son is marrying one of Poppy's daughters, binding the two families together even more. 

When Poppy receives a very generous offer for her business, she starts to wonder what life might look like if she didn't have to manage the restaurant. When an old flame turns up in a flash yacht, no one is exactly sure what his intentions are. One thing for sure is that not everything is as it seems, and Cam is determined to understand exactly what is going on.

For a very calm read there is quite a lot going on in this book. 

I love Maggie Christensen's writing. It is the very definition of comfort reading to me, so as she moves from one series to another, there was never any doubt that I was going to make the journey with her. It was certainly a book that I could lose myself in when I was reading it while I was in hospital last week. Like Bellbird Bay, Pelican Crossing is going to be one of those towns where there is something in the water, where there is true love to be found no matter how old you are, as long as you are open to it.

The last series was set in Bellbird Bay which is not very far away from Pelican Crossing geographically (in an imaginary way!) and so there were a number of cameos by characters from Bellbird Bay. There are definitely similarities between the two towns and I look forward to seeing more of the similarities and exploring the differences. I was interested to see that there was a bit of sailing in this book. While I won't confess to doing a lot of sailing, we do love to watch competitive sailing on TV, especially SailGP.

I am sharing this review with the New Release Challenge, hosted at The Chocolate Lady's Book Review. Thank you to Rachel's Random Resources and the author for the review copy.

Rating 4/5

About the book
The Restaurant in Pelican Crossing: A second chance romance to tug on your heartstrings

Poppy Taylor has always been content with her life in Pelican Crossing, but as she watches her youngest daughter get married, she can't help but feel that there’s something missing. Never would Poppy have predicted the dramatic transformation that occurs as she reunites with an old love and makes a choice that will reshape everything.

Cam Mitchell has always felt a strong attraction to Poppy, and when she reveals her plans to make changes in her life, Cam sees it as his chance to finally reveal his feelings. But Cam's hopes are crushed when he discovers Poppy's past love is back in the picture.

Cam becomes increasingly sceptical of the man from Poppy's past – a feeling that escalates when he uncovers his shocking plans for Pelican Crossing.

With their town now at risk, Cam and Poppy must work together to save their home and find their own happy ending. But will their feelings for each other be enough to overcome the obstacles in their way?

For fans of small-town romances and heartwarming stories of second chances, Pelican Crossing is a must-read. A captivating tale of love, loyalty, and the fight to protect what matters most.

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

About the author

After a career in education, Maggie Christensen began writing romantic women’s fiction, feel good stories of second chances. 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 –


Tuesday, May 07, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday: May Flowers

Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's theme is May Flowers - Pick your own title for this one to reflect the direction you choose to go with this prompt (books with flowers on the cover, flower names in the title, characters whose names are flower names, stories involving flowers/gardeners).

Here are some flowers that I have received this week!

Back in April, the theme was April Showers and rather than do showers, I thought I would share 10 years worth of April reads. I thought I would do the same with this week's theme. So here are 10 books I read in May over the last few years.

2024 - The Shakespeare Sisters by Juliet Greenwood - I am currently reading this book. I have the second book in the series to read soon too.

2023 - The War Nurses by Anthea Hodgson - I really liked this one when I read it last year.

2023 - A Taste of Italian Sunshine by Leonie Mack - The first book I read by Leonie Mack was set in Paris, this one in the vineyards of Italy, and the last one in the mountains of France. I already have the next book to read by her and this one is set in Spain

2022 - The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles - This was a long, but enjoyable read.

2021 - The Dressmakers of Yarrandarah Prison by Meredith Jaffe - this one is a 5/5 read for me!

2021 - All Systems Red by Martha Wells - I don't read a lot of sci-fi but this series is a lot of fun!

2020  - The Postmistress by Alison Stuart - Australian historical fiction set in a fictitious town inspired by an actual town a few hours away from me that I would love to visit

2020 - The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan- I do mix things up a little bit genre wise! This is crime fiction!

2019 - The Flat Share by Beth O'Leary - Still the best book by this author that I have read.

2018 - Templar Silks by Elizabeth Chadwick - This is one of my favourite historical fiction authors and yet I don't often read her. Must rectify that!

Monday, May 06, 2024

This week....


Well, I didn't really have a hospital stay on my bingo cards for last week, but that's what ended up happening. I had a minor issue that I went to the doctor about on Friday the week before last. When I went back for the follow up she told me I had to go to Emergency for a minor surgery. What I didn't expect was to end up in hospital for four nights while I waited for my surgery. It wouldn't have been so bad apart from the fact that I had to start fasting at midnight each night just in case the surgery was going to happen the next day. Over the course of four days I had 2 sandwiches and 2 dinners and that is it food wise. You would think I would have lost a couple of kilograms as a result, but it doesn't seem that I have!! Very disappointing.

I am glad to be home. No more poking, prodding, lectures. No more being woken in the middle of the night.

We did go to Cirque de Soleil last night which was pretty amazing! Such a spectacle of colour, music, acrobatics, humour all within the big circus tent. I have been meaning to got to Cirque de Soleil for years, but it just hadn't happened before now. Of course, it probably would have been better not to go the day after getting out of hospital.

I'm reading

Well, it's been a big reading week for me. I guess that's what happens when you don't have many options on how to entertain yourself when you are not sleeping. I finished three books this week which gives me a little bit of space to read a non review book.

First of all, I finished reading Kate Frost's A Greek Island Summer. I was supposed to review this last week but hopefully I will get that review done in the next couple of days.

I then started and finished reading The Restaurant at Pelican Crossing by Maggie Christensen, who is definitely what I would call a comfort read for me - definitely required this week.

Next, I read One Greek Summer Wedding by Mandy Baggot. If I had to give a one word review of this book it would be madcap. I will have a review for this one shortly.

Finally, I started reading The Shakespeare Sisters by Juliet Greenwood. I have the second book in this series to read for a blog tour later this month. I definitely prefer to read series in order so I have found some time to read the first book so far.

I'm watching

I didn't watch anything this week, except for the view from the window

Posts from the last week

Six Degrees: The Anniversary to Equal Rites
Historical Fiction Reading Challenge - May Links

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

Sunday, May 05, 2024

Six Degrees of Separation: The Anniversary to Equal Rites

Welcome to this month's edition of Six Degrees of Separation, which is a monthly meme hosted by Kate from Books Are My Favourite and Best. The idea is to start with a specific book and make a series of links from one book to the next using whatever link you can find and see where you end up after six links. I am also linking this post up with The Sunday Salon, hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.

This month the starting point is The Anniversary by Stephanie Bishop, which was longlisted for the Stella Prize this year.

My starting point is last year's winner of the same prize, Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens by Shankari Chandran

Another book with the word cinnamon in the title is Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown

A book that I read recently about the famous Gunpowder Plot is The Secrets of Crestwell Hall by Alexandra Walsh

I love a good book which features the house as almost a character. Another book where that happened for me was Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell

A book by another Hannah that is the very opposite of summer is Burial Rites by Hannah Kent..

And that title gives me the opportunity to finish with a Terry Pratchett book, Equal Rites.

Next month our starting point is Butter by Asako Yuzuki. I am very excited by this choice. I had requested it from the library but wasn't able to go pick it up! I am not sure that I will get to read it before June but it will be a good reminder to me to request it again.

Will you be joining us?

Saturday, May 04, 2024

Weekend Cooking: What I Baked (In My Kitchen) in April

The first Saturday of the month is when I share all the things that I baked in the previous month. Now, I didn't really make that much this month, which doesn't mean to say that there weren't some sweet treats in our house.

Let's start with what I did make

My first bake for the month was Mum's Chocolate and Coconut Cake from Meliz Berg's book, Meliz's Kitchen. You will see that we have cooked a few things from this book this month. I really liked this cake and it was pretty easy to make as well.

April 25 is Anzac Day which is a memorial day for all the Aussie and New Zealand soldiers who served, especially those who paid the ultimate price in conflict over the years. Tradition says that Anzac biscuits were made and sent to the soldiers on the battlefields. I have previously shared a recipe for Anzac biscuits here. It was one of the first recipes I ever shared for Weekend Cooking!

The only other thing that I made this month was caramel. Now I have made caramel various times before but this is the first time I have made it using just one ingredient. In order to make this, you get a can of condensed milk, put it in a slow cooker, cover with water and then cook on low for 8 hours! And it turned out perfectly.

I intended to use the caramel to make a cheats version of Alfajores, but I haven't quite got there yet. Luckily it lasts for a while in the fridge. We did use it when we cooked an apple pie, and it's good just on a spoon as well.

However, my husband makes a South African dessert called Peppermint Crisp Tart. One of the key ingredients in this tart is a can of caramel so he used some of the caramel that I made to make this tart. I have shared the recipe here previously.

He also made himself a batch of South African style buttermilk rusks, which he then proceed to have for breakfast. Perfect for dunking in a coffee! I learnt a lot from observing this bake. I never expected that they would be twice baked but they are.

New recipes

A few months ago I decided that I was going to share all the new recipes that we try each month, and then we proceeded to not try very many new recipes at all. This month, we tried quite

Chicken, Onion and Parsley Wraps (Meliz Berg) - We have been making Chicken Shwarma from the Dinner cookbook which we love, but this felt tasty and less prep time required. Definitely a winner.

Mum's Chocolate and Coconut Cake (Meliz Berg) - Yum! 

Tomato and Halloumi Pasta (Meliz Berg) - This was a surprisingly easy and tasty midweek dinner. I wouldn't really have thought to use halloumi with pasta.

Spatchcock Chicken and Rice - I was talking to someone and they talked about just using a spatchcocked chicken that you buy pre-flavoured from the supermarket, and then cooking it over rice. It was super good!

Caramel (Nagi Maehashi) - Super easy, in effect just one ingredient, and useful for multiple things!

Tomato and Rice Soup (Meliz Berg) - Yet another recipe from Meliz's Kitchen. Expect to see this one on rotation this winter when it is soup weather. I shared this recipe a couple of weeks ago

Roast pork, leek and mushrooms - I fancied a roast so we tried a new recipe from the Coles magazine. It wasn't too bad!

My Weekend Cooking posts over the last month:

What I Baked (In My Kitchen) in March

Figolli (Take 2)
Meliz's Kitchen by Meliz Berg
The French Cooking School by Caroline James

Weekly meals

Saturday - Takeaway
Sunday -  Toast
Monday - Bacon, Zucchini and Mushroom pasta
Tuesday - Sandwich (hospital food)
Wednesday - Meatballs and vegies (hospital food)
Thursday - Sandwich (hospital food)
Friday - Roast lamb and vegies (hospital food)

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, May 01, 2024

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge - May links


Thank you to everyone who contributed a review in April for the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge. Currently there are more than 45 links for the month!

I am looking forward to reading your reviews throughout the year! I am sure there is going to be a lot of great historical fiction discovered and shared with fellow HF lovers over the course of this year!

If you haven't already signed up, it's not too late! The sign up post is here.

Just to recap what participants need to know. At the beginning of each month I will put up a post which will have a Mr Linky embedded into it for you to add your link.

Please remember...

  • add the link(s) of your review(s) including your name and book title to the Mister Linky we’ll be adding to our monthly post (please, do not add your blog link, but the correct address that will guide us directly to your review). A direct link to your Goodreads review is also acceptable
  • any kind of historical fiction is accepted (fantasy, young adult, graphic novels...)
  • if you have time, have a look some of the other links that are present. You never know when you will discover new blogs or books!

You can also join the challenge group on Facebook which you can find here and don't forget to use the #histficreadingchallenge hashtag on the socials.

Let the reading begin!!

Monday, April 29, 2024

This week.....

I'm reading

Last week I had started reading Mastering the Art of French murder by Colleen Cambridge, which is the latest Cook the Books selection. Now I am thinking about what I might make so that I can do a post. I have a couple of ideas but no firm decision yet.

I have now started reading A Greek Island Escape by Kate Frost. Yes, I am back travelling around Europe through the pages of a book.I need to hurry up with this one as I am supposed to review it this week.

I haven't  really made any progress on my audiobook. Maybe this week.

I'm watching

Not much really


We actually had a pretty busy week, especially given that we only worked 3 days. It was a public holiday for Anzac Day on Thursday and then we took Friday off as well. On Friday we spent the afternoon visiting Lume which has a new exhibition all about the works of Leonardo da Vinci. It was really lovely. We spent nearly 2 hours there, and even then I could have spent longer!

On Saturday, we drove up to Bendigo and went to the Paris: Impressions of Life 1880 to 1925 and it was full of artefacts from Musee Carnavale in Paris.  We love the way the Bendigo Art Gallery puts it's exhibitions together and this was no exception.

As part of the visit we listened to French-Australian chef Gabriel Gate who talked about his own food history as well as the history of French restaurants and cooking. It was a lovely day.

And then on Sunday, my stepdaughter left to move to the UK for a while. It was very emotional at the airport, but she got on the plane and is just about to land as I type this. We will be going to visit in 14 weeks or so, but who's counting.

And in case you missed it, over the weekend, I unveiled my new blog look. There are a couple of kinks but I will figure them out in due course. 

Posts from the last week

Top Ten Tuesday: Unread Books on my Kindle
Sunday Salon: A New Look

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

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Sunday Salon: A New Look

Welcome to my new look blog!!

I have only been thinking about it for more than 4 years, but I have finally gotten around to getting an updated blog template! I had the same design for more than 14 years which is a long time! And whilst I loved it for a long time, it has become a bit tired and I have lost some of the background images. It was past time for a change. My husband even gave me a blog makeover as a gift a few years ago, but I have only just gotten around to it!

Thanks to Serena at PrettyWildDesigns, I now have a blog design which feels very clean and contemporary, a custom made header and some new custom made buttons for Weekend Cooking and Historical Fiction Reading Challenge. 

One of the things I love in particular about this design is the dynamic header. The line of pictures above will change with every post, so one of the things that I will need to contemplate is the first picture in each post. I also love that the blog title now represents the fact that I predominantly blog about both books and baking! I think I will add in another category for travel...maybe.

You will notice that instead of a graphic you can now see my face, looking my very best. This photo was taken at the dinner we had on our wedding night. Just the two of us, in a romantic location on the lagoon in Vanuatu, eating our wedding dinner! 

There are some links and things that I need to add in, and I need to figure out the images as they are all very large in the posts, especially in posts where I have multiple images

There are going to be some formatting issues in old posts, so I may go back and fix some of the more recent ones, but I won't be going back the more than 18 years to the beginning of my blog. 

I do still need to decide what to do from a social media perspective. I have my blog Facebook page where I always post, but I need to get better at posting on my Instagram account, but then I wonder if I should have a separate IG account..

In other news, Emma at Words and Peace has announced that she is again hosting Paris in July this year! This is one of my favourite blog events each year. I already have a couple of posts written and several ideas! Even yesterday we spent the day in a country city and have two potential posts from just that one day.

I am sharing this post with Sunday Salon hosted at Readerbuzz.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Weekend Cooking: The French Cookery School by Caroline James


Before I start, just a quick note. You may have noticed that things look a bit different around here. I have finally done the blog makeover that I have been thinking about for years. The design literally went live overnight so things might look a bit odd while I sort things out!



When Waltho Williams finishes renovating his chateau it is a bitter sweet moment. He bought the property, knowing that it needed a lot of work, with his partner, but he has had to finish the project himself. He decides to use his newly renovated spaces to run a cooking school. He recruits a semi-famous chef, Daniel, who needs the money spending a week teaching will give him, and a sous chef, not really knowing how the week will go.  

Luckily the week becomes fully booked, and so the participants arrive. They come from all walks of life. There is uptight Caroline, larger than life Fran and unlucky in love journalist Sally, amongst other characters who come together to learn more about France and it's food.

When I was trying to think of a word to describe Caroline, at first I was thinking stand-offish, but I don't think that is a strong enough word. Just before her trip she has found out that not only has her husband been unfaithful and leaving her, but he has pretty much cleaned her out financially as well. She is therefore on the brink of losing everything - both professionally and personally. She is one of those people who always look perfectly put together, elegant. She is, however, distant, and she is constantly aware that she needs to watch every morsel that passes her lips so that she doesn't put on an ounce of weight.

Fran is at the cooking school to see if she has what it takes to help make her husband's dream of a fine dining restaurant come true. It will be a long way from their current business which is a successful fish and chip shop. She is exuberant, dresses in loud clothes - the very antithesis of Caroline. It's no wonder they clash.

And then there is journalist Sally. She has recently broken up with someone, and so she is focussing solely on work. She is spending the week getting material to write a series of stories about attending a cooking school. The last thing that she needs is to get distracted by a handsome chef.

There was so much to love about this book. I loved reading all about the lessons, where the chef put the class through their paces, each of them making something to contribute to the next meal. Some of the dishes sounded a-maz-ing. I also loved reading about the adventures the group went on in the nearby area, seeing the sites. I wasn't super keen on Caroline, but I guess you weren't meant to be.

I am sure that I am not alone in thinking that spending a week learning to cook at a beautiful French chateau sounds like the epitome of luxury. I am not sure it would ever happen as it is an expensive exercise, but a girl can dream right? 

When we visited France early last year we stayed in what the owner called a chateau in a tiny town outside of Bloise. I couldn't help but think about that experience as I read this book, particularly the section which talked about the breakfasts! They were amazing.

This is my first Caroline James book, and I will definitely read more.

I am sharing this review with the New Release Challenge hosted at The Chocolate Lady's Book Reviews and with Foodies Read hosted at Based on a True Story

Be sure to check out other stops on the blog tour and see what they have to say about this book.

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

Rating 4.5

About the book

The French Cookery School

Mix together a group of mature students:

A culinary Sloane, a take-away cook and a food journalist.

Add in:

A handsome host

Season with:

A celebrity chef

Bring to the boil:

At a luxurious cookery school in France!

Waltho Williams has no idea what he’s letting himself in for when he opens the doors of La Maison du Paradis, his beautiful French home. But with dwindling funds, a cookery school seems like the ideal business plan.

Running away from an impending divorce, super-snob Caroline Carrington hopes a luxurious cookery holiday will put her back on her feet. Blackpool fish and chip café owner Fran Cartwright thinks she’s won the lottery when her husband Sid books her on a week working alongside a celebrity chef. Meanwhile, feeling she is fading at fifty, journalist Sally Parker-Brown hopes her press week covering the cookery course will enable her to boost her career.

But will the eclectic group be a recipe for success, or will the mismatched relationships sink like a souffle?

Whip out an apron, grab a wooden spoon and take a culinary trip to La Maison du Paradis, then sit back and enjoy The French Cookery School!

Purchase Link   https://mybook.to/TFCS

About the author–

Caroline James always wanted to write, but instead of taking a literary route, followed a career in the hospitality industry, which included owning a pub and a beautiful country house hotel. She was also a media agent representing celebrity chefs. When she finally glued her rear to a chair and began to write, the words flowed, and several novels later, she has gained many bestseller badges for her books.

The French Cookery School is Caroline’s tenth novel. Previously, The Cruise, described as: ‘Girl power for the over sixties!’ was an Amazon Top Ten Best Seller. Caroline’s hilarious novels include The Spa Break and The Best Boomerville Hotel, depicted as ‘Britain’s answer to the Best Marigold Hotel’.

She likes to write in Venus, her holiday home on wheels and in her spare time, walks with Fred, her Westie, or swims in a local lake. Caroline is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, the SOA, ARRA and the Society of Women’s Writers & Journalists. She is also a speaker with many amusing talks heard by a variety of audiences, including cruise ship guests.

Books by Caroline James:


The French Cookery School

The Cruise

The Spa Break

Hattie Goes to Hollywood

Boomerville at Ballymegille

The Best Boomerville Hotel

Coffee Tea the Gypsy & Me

Coffee Tea the Chef & Me

Coffee Tea the Caribbean & Me

Jungle Rock





Twitter: @CarolineJames12

Facebook: Caroline James Author

Insta: Caroline James Author

Weekly meals

Saturday -  Chilli and rice
Sunday -  Nothing
Monday - Chilli and Potato
Tuesday - Spicy Pork and Beans
Wednesday - 
Thursday - Out for dinner
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