Stuff On Sundays: What My Kids Are Reading…

Regular visitors will be aware I am a mother of four children who I hope will enjoy reading as much as I do as they grow up. My husband doesn’t read at all – not even the newspaper – so  it’s up to me to set a good example. We go to the library every couple of weeks so they can choose what to read, they also bring home books from the school library. However, of the four, I have one non reader, 2 readers and 1 reluctant reader.

Simariah, who is 18, doesn’t read anything longer than Facebook status updates and text messages despite my best efforts.


Aleah, who is eleven, is an eager reader. She is just starting to show an interest in more YA rather than MG titles.
She has just finished Fool Me Twice and Wish You Were Italian from the If Only series published by Bloomsbury


And is currently reading Nowhere Boys by Elise McCredie

Makyah, ten, likes to read before bed. He has recently worked his way through Robert Muchamore’s Cherub series


And I just bought him the first book in the Skullduggery Pleasant series to try.


Jasiah, eight, will only read when there is absolutely nothing better to do or if it is related to whatever his current gaming obsession is.
I’ve recently bought him the Minecraft Handbooks which he refers to over and over again. At least he is reading something!


What are your kids reading?

Stuff on Sunday: 18 Books for Aussie Dads this Fathers Day


September 7th is Father’s Day in Australia, here are my recommendations from my reading so far this year., just follow the links to learn more…


For the adrenaline junkie…


Quick by Steve Worland: Steve Worland’s newest novel, Quick, is a fast paced, octane fueled thrill ride set in the exciting world of international motor sport.

Skinjob by Bruce McCabe: Skinjob is an entertaining techno-action thriller written by Australian author Bruce McCabe.


For the armchair detective…

Hades by Candice Fox: Broadly crime fiction, but also combining elements of a police procedural and psychological thriller, it delves into the seething mind of a serial killer and the lives of the detectives, Frank and Eden, who are pursuing him.

The Train Rider by Tony Cavanaugh: Darian Richards was once Melbourne’s top homicide cop but he walked away at the pinnacle of his career, retiring to the Queensland coast. It wasn’t the bullet to the head that broke him, but his inability to capture the man dubbed The Train Rider.


For the history buff…

A Fatal Tide by Steve Sailah: Exploring the themes of duty, honour, mateship and humanity, Sailah weaves together a compelling story of war, friendship and murder in A Fatal Tide. It offers both an interesting mystery, and fascinating insight into the experiences of our Australian diggers in Gallipoli’s trenches.

The Luck of the Irish by Babette Smith: A fascinating portrait of colonial life in the mid-19th century, which reveals how the Irish helped lay the foundations of the Australia we know today


For the sensitive dad…

A Man Callled Ove by Fredrik Backman: Simultaneously heartbreaking and uplifting, this is a story about love, grief, life, death and Saab’s. Told with heartfelt emotion, wry insight and a sense of humour, Backman has created an endearing character, few will be able to dismiss.

Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler: Set in rural Wisconsin, Shotgun Lovesongs tells the story of four men, and one woman, renegotiating the meaning of friendship, love and home.


For the workaholic…

Martin Harbottle’s Appreciation of Time by Dominic Utton: Martin Harbottle’s Appreciation of Time is a funny and engaging novel, written in epistolary format, consisting of emails between Dan, a frustrated commuter, and Martin Harbottle, Managing Director of Premier Westward Trains.

Terms & Conditions by Robert Glancy: Terms & Conditions is a quirky*, black humoured story of a man** who lost his mind***, then regained his soul.****


For the stay at home dad…

Reservoir Dad by Clint Greagan: In 2008, Clint Greagen resigned from his job as a youth worker to care for his first born child. Nine years later Clint is a stay at home dad of four young boys, Archie, Lewis, Tyson and Maki, and the author of Reservoir Dad, about his adventures in full-time parenting, first chronicled on his popular blog of the same name.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty: Part noir suburban mystery, part domestic drama, Big Little Lies is compulsive reading. Thought provoking, clever, witty and wonderful, this is another wickedly brilliant novel from best selling Australian author Liane Moriarty.


For the thinker…

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is the story of a man who has never really recovered from being inexplicably exiled by a group of close friends he met in high school. Drifting through his life, engineer Tsukuru is now in his mid thirties, single and largely friendless, until he meets a woman who encourages him to confront his painful past.

The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon: Set in New York in 2016, just weeks before the publication of the third and final printed North American Dictionary of the English Language(NADEL), its curator, Doug disappears leaving behind a cryptic message for his daughter, Anana. Concerned and confused, Anana, with the support of a colleague, Bart, begins to search for her father, and stumbles upon a shocking conspiracy that threatens to destroy the very foundation of civilisation – language.


For the game player…

Chasing the Ace by Nicholas J Johnston: Told from dual first person narratives, Chasing The Ace introduces Richard, an ageing, world-weary con ‘artiste’ and Joel, a young, wannabe grifter who meet on the streets of Melbourne. Richard, contemplating retirement, decides to take Joel under his wing and the pair form a profitable alliance. Joel is eager to learn all he can, and is thrilled when the money starts rolling in, but when they accidentally scam an off duty cop, neither man is sure if they will be able to con their way out of trouble.

Games Creatures Play by Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner et al: In Games Creatures Play you will find witches, monster stompers, faeries, Gods, ghosts and more, all playing to win and even though I have very little interest in sport in general, I really enjoyed this anthology. Get ready, get set and go… pick up a copy today.


For the dad with a social conscience…

Through the Cracks by Honey Brown: After enduring years of confinement and abuse at the hands of his father, Joe, Adam finally pushes back, but having secured his freedom he has no idea what to do with it…until Billy finds him. Placing his trust in the streetwise teen, Adam tentatively ventures beyond his suburban prison for the first time in years, but no matter the direction the pair take to escape, their past refuses to let them go.

Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink: Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital, an investigative piece written by Sheri Fink, is a vivid portrait of tragedy that occurred in New Orleans when it was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.




Stuff on Sundays: Bookshelf Bounty

It’s that time of the month or near enough,  so here is what I have added to my shelves recently.

Click on the cover images to view at Goodreads

For Review (print)



For Review (ebook)



Bought or otherwise acquired (giveaways, gifts etc)


Weekend Cooking: Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan



Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan

Rosie Hopkins’s life is…comfortable. She has a steady nursing job, a nice apartment, and Gerard, her loyal (if a bit boring) boyfriend. And even though she might like to pursue a more rewarding career, and Gerard doesn’t seem to have any plans to propose, Rosie’s not complaining. Things could be worse. Right?

Life gets a bit more interesting when Rosie’s mother sends her out to the country to care for her ailing great aunt Lilian, who owns an old-fashioned sweetshop. But as Rosie gets Lilian back on her feet, breathes a new life into the candy shop, and gets to know the mysterious and solitary Stephen—whose family seems to own the entire town—she starts to think that settling for what’s comfortable might not be so great after all.

Recipe for Tablet (Scottish Fudge) from Jenny Colgan

Tablet The Fudge House


1 stick butter
4 cups white sugar
1 small tin condensed milk
I cup milk.


• Melt butter slowly. Stir sugar in slowly, if it burns it’s done for.
• When melted in, add milk & condensed milk. Bring to boil, then back to a simmer, and keep stirring for about 45 minutes!!!
• When it goes brown, drop a bit off a metal spoon into a cup of cold water- it should form into a soft ball. Then it’s ready.
• Take off heat, scrape sugar off sides, STIR VIGOROUSLY for a few minutes until you feel the mixture start to thicken and granulate a bit.
• Pour into buttered tins. Will set like concrete in about 3 hours.
• Don’t then do what I did last night and eat so much you think you’re going to spew :) . You can add vanilla flavoring, or nuts and things, but I like it the traditional way.



A former columnist for The Guardian, Jenny Colgan contributes regularly to national BBC radio and is the author of more than eleven bestselling novels, including her recent international bestsellers The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris published in 2014 and Welcome To Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop of Dreams, which won the 2013 Romantic Novel of the Year award from the Romantic Novelists Association. She is married with three children and lives in London and France.


Read my review of Sweetshop of Dreams by clicking HERE


Sweetshop of Dreams is available to purchase from

Amazon I BAM I B&N I Indiebound I Indigo I Kobo



Stuff on Sundays: Bookshelf Bounty

It’s that time of the month or near enough,  so here is what I have added to my shelves recently.

Click on the cover images to view at Goodreads

For Review (print)

For Review (ebook)

Bought or otherwise acquired (giveaways, gifts etc)

Weekend Cooking: Chinese Cooking for Diamond Thieves by Dave Lowry


I’ve decided to make the Weekend Cooking meme, hosted by Beth Fish Reads  a regular monthly post at Book’d Out. Cooking is something I enjoy and I have been making more of an effort again lately, so I am looking forward to sharing some of my culinary adventures.


Title: Chinese Cooking For Diamond Thieves

Author: Dave Lowry

Published:  Mariner Books: Haughton Mifflin Harcourt July 2014

Status: Read from July 09 to 10, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

I’m not sure exactly why I decided to take a chance on this novel but I am so glad I did. Funny, clever and fresh, Chinese Cooking for Diamond Thieves by Dave Lowry is a fabulously entertaining blend of mystery, action, a touch of awkward romance, and Chinese cooking.

Having been kicked out of college just before graduation, Tucker is heading home to Missouri in his aging Toyota when he crosses paths with the attractive and enigmatic Corrine Chang, making her way from Canada to Buffalo, NY, at a deserted rest stop. In the absence of any real goal, Tucker offers Corrine a ride, surprising her with his ability to speak Mandarin, and being surprised in turn when he intercepts a threatening phone call. Corrine, it seems, is on the run from a Chinese gang convinced she has $15 million dollars worth of diamonds missing from her employer’s store. Despite her protestations of innocence, the gang follows them all the way to St Louis, as intent on capturing Corinne, as Tucker, with a little help from the FBI, is at stopping them.

Chinese Cooking for Diamond Thieves is fast paced with plenty of action and intrigue, and just enough exaggeration to entertain. Snappy dialogue, liberally laced with sarcasm, is delivered with expert timing.

Lowry’s protagonist is an unusual guy. The son of white upper middle class parents (his father a retired agent of some description), Tucker practices xing-i, speaks Mandarin (and a little Cantonese) and cooks Chinese food, real Chinese food, with the skill of a native. He is simultaneously a tough guy capable of crippling an enemy with an economy of movement, and achingly vulnerable and self deprecating. The contradiction works perfectly to create a charming, quirky hero, who is supported by an equally appealing cast.

For foodies, there are plenty of tips for cooking authentic Chinese food, and a glimpse into the inner workings of a Chinese restaurant kitchen.

Chinese Cooking for Diamond Thieves is probably best described as a crime caper given the elements of humour, adventure and the offbeat characters. I thought it was witty, clever and interesting and recommend it without hesitation.

Chinese Cooking for Diamond Thieves is available to purchase from

Haughton Mifflin Harcourt I AmazonUS I BookDepository I Indiebound

via Booko


The few Chinese dishes I cook are unapologetically westernised versions and fairly simple ones at that. Today I thought I’d share one of my favourites, with apologies to Tucker, and Dave Lowry.

Oven Baked Chicken Spring Rolls



1 kg barbecued or roast chicken, finely shredded
1 large can of corn kernels
4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tsp finely grated ginger
2 tsp sesame oil
5 tbs soy sauce
1 pkt frozen spring roll wrappers
1/4 cup (60ml) peanut oil


Preheat oven to 200°C.

In a bowl combine shredded chicken, corn kernels, onions, ginger, sesame oil and soy sauce

Lay out a spring roll wrapper with a point facing towards you. Place 2 tablespoonfuls of chicken mixture on pastry then fold pastry over filling once. Fold in side corners. Brush far corner with water then roll up tightly. Repeat with remaining filling and pastry.

Place spring rolls on an oven tray. Brush with peanut oil then bake for 20-25 minutes or until crisp and golden.

Serve with fried rice and/or a dipping sauce of your choice

spring rolls

Stuff on Sundays: Bookshelf Bounty

It’s that time of the month or near enough,  so here is what I have added to my shelves recently.

Click on the cover images to view at Goodreads

For Review (print)



For Review (ebook)


Bought or otherwise acquired (giveaways, gifts etc)

Stuff on Sundays: Bookshelf Bounty

It’s that time of the month or near enough,  so here is what I have added to my shelves recently.

Click on the cover images to view at Goodreads

For Review (print)



For Review (ebook)


Bought or otherwise acquired (giveaways, gifts etc)

Stuff on Sunday: Mum’s favourite books …..


Happy Mother’s Day!


Though my mum, Cherry,  doesn’t read quite as much as me, she manages to finish at least one book a week, which is impressive given how busy she is. She and my father own a post office, though they are retiring this year, and enjoy an active social life. We live just over an hours drive apart so only see each other every six weeks or so, and at each visit I hand over a bag of books for her to read from my vast collection, which she then exchanges for another stack on our next visit. Like me, mum will read just about anything however she prefers historicals, speculative fiction and crime.

To celebrate Mothers Day today, I thought I would share with you  five of of my mum’s  favourite books, so here they are in no particular order…



The Dune Chronicles by Frank Herbert

Set in the far future amidst a sprawling feudal interstellar empire where planetary dynasties are controlled by noble houses that owe an allegiance to the imperial House Corrino, Dune tells the story of young Paul Atreides (the heir apparent to Duke Leto Atreides and heir of House Atreides) as he and his family accept control of the desert planet Arrakis, the only source of the “spice” melange, the most important and valuable substance in the universe. The story explores the complex and multi-layered interactions of politics, religion, ecology, technology, and human emotion, as the forces of the empire confront each other for control of Arrakis and its “spice”.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

The year is 1327. Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate. When his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William turns detective. His tools are the logic of Aristotle, the theology of Aquinas, the empirical insights of Roger Bacon—all sharpened to a glistening edge by wry humor and a ferocious curiosity. He collects evidence, deciphers secret symbols and coded manuscripts, and digs into the eerie labyrinth of the abbey, where “the most interesting things happen at night.”

Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell

A serial Killer is on the loose in Richmond, Virginia. Three women have died, brutalised and strangled in their own bedrooms. There is no pattern: the killer appears to strike at random – but always early on Saturday mornings. So when Dr. Kay Scarpetta, chief medical examiner, is awakened at 2.33am, she knows the news is bad: there is a fourth victim. And she fears now for those that will follow unless she can diog up new forensic evidence to aid police. But not everyone is pleased to see a woman in this powerful job. Someone may even want to ruin her career and reputation…

Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood

“Cat’s Eye” is the story of Elaine Risley, a controversial painter who returns to Toronoto, the city of her youth, for a retrospective of her art. Engulfed by vivid images of the past, she reminisces about a trio of girls who initiated her into the fierce politics of childhood and its secret world of friendship, longing, and betrayal. Elaine must come to terms with her own identity as a daughter, a lover, and artist, and woman – but above all she must seek release from her haunting memories. Disturbing, hilarious, and compassionate, “Cat’s Eye, ” is a breathtaking novel of a woman grappling with the tangled knots of her life.


What are your mother’s favourite books?



Stuff On Sunday: Six Degrees of Separation


Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman were inspired to create this meme by a short story titled ‘Chains’ in which Hungarian writer and poet Frigyes Karinthy first coined the phrase ‘six degrees of separation’. Based on the idea in Karinthy’s story, Emma and Annabel will choose a book each month, and link it to five other books in a chain, inviting their readers and other bloggers to join them by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book.

Books can be linked in obvious ways – for example, books by the same authors, from the same era or genre, or books with similar themes or settings. Or, you may choose to link them in more personal or esoteric ways: books you read on the same holiday, books given to you by a particular friend, books that remind you of a particular time in your life, or books you read for an online challenge.

The great thing about this meme is that each participant can make their own rules. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the ones next to them in the chain.


This month, Annabelle and Emma have chosen The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath to start the chain.

The semi autobiographical novel was first published in 1960 under a pseudonym, Victoria Lucas. It is touted as an extraordinary work chronicles the crackup of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, successful–but slowly going under, and maybe for the last time.’

Also  written under a pseudonym is The Cuckoo’s Calling, attributed to the fictional identity of Robert Galbraith but authored by J.K. Rowling, featuring private investigator,  Cormoran Strike, an amputee Afghanistan War vet.

Flashes of War, a collection of short stories and flash fiction by Katey Shultz,  is a look at the experiences of  civilians and military personnel in the Afghanistan war which captures personal moments of fear, introspection, confusion, and valor in one collection spanning nations and perspectives’

The Lottery is Shirley Jackson’s most well known short story,  part of a collection from The Lottery and Other Stories. This collection includes 24 stories that demonstrate Jack son’s remarkable range–from the hilarious to the truly horrible–and power as a storyteller’.

It is a  lottery that sparks rebellion in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy, of which Mockingjay is the final installment.  This award winning young adult dystopian series features teenage heroine Katniss Everdeen who incites a revolution against the oppression of the Capitol.

Adult readers of dystopian fiction may prefer, The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood. Shortlisted for the ManBooker in 1986 and  winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Novel in 1987 this literary novel explores a frightening future with commentary on politics, feminism, religion.


So that’s it, six books linked by six degrees of separation linked variously by author, character, setting, theme and genre.

They also share another common denominator, I haven’t read a single one, (though I have read The Lottery as a stand alone as well as Hunger Games and Catching Fire) though they are all on my TBR list.


Visit Emma‘s or Annabel’s blogs if you would like to join in with this meme or to browse the intriguing connections from bloggers who are participating.



Previous Older Entries


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,674 other followers