Monday, September 01, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

A weekly event hosted by Sheila from Book Journey to discuss your reading week ~ the books you've read and those you plan on reading in the coming week. I love this meme, it helps me stay on track ... well, most of the time. Thanks Sheila! 

Another month down, who can believe it ... 1st day of Spring here! A busy but good week and a big weekend with my son and family back for a few days. Saturday night saw both sons at home for the first time since Christmas, was so nice seeing Callum with his little niece. After appointments today, I'll be spending a few days in Chinchilla; more time with my precious granddaughter ... can't wait! 

Mia 2 months old 

 Uncle Cal & Mia


#bookblogwalkers update #33: Felicia's Book Blog Walkers: August is being hosted by Jen @ That's What I'm Talking About. If you have a fitbit and want to add me, let me know :) 

Mon: 45 min walk with Bella (10,060 steps)
Tue: 30 min walk with Bella (8400 steps)
Wed: no walk (6640 steps)
Thurs: 30 min walk with Bella and gardening (9700 steps)
Fri:  20 min walk (8040 steps)
Sat: Babysitting my granddaughter (5400 steps)
Sun: 40 min walk with Bella (10, 100 steps)


Reviews & Posts: (click on title)

THE GLASS KITCHEN by Linda Francis Lee ~ squeee I'm lovin' on this one, 5 star fave!! Weekend Cooking Post.

THE ESCAPE ARTIST by Diane Chamberlain (audiobook) ~ good

SHATTER by Erin McCarthy (True Believers #4) ~ guest review by Karen, 4.5 stars


Finished last week:

LYREBIRD HILL by Anna Romer ~ brilliant!! Another favourite

THE DARKEST HOUR by Barbara Erskine (audiobook) ~ great, love Barbara Erskine


This Week's Reading List: 

ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE by Randy Susan Meyers ~ it's good so far

BITTER GREENS by Kate Forsyth ~ for book tour

OUTBACK GHOST by Rachael Johns (Bunyip Bay #3)


Reviews Coming: 

MAYBE SOMEDAY by Colleen Hoover ~ loved it!!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Review: The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee

Title: The Glass Kitchen
Author: Linda Francis Lee
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Magical Realism
Publication Date: 17th June 2014
Pages: 384

Book Source: own purchase

Synopsis: Portia Cuthcart never intended to leave Texas. Her dream was to run the Glass Kitchen restaurant her grandmother built decades ago. But after a string of betrayals and the loss of her legacy, Portia is determined to start a new life with her sisters in Manhattan... and never cook again. 

But when she moves into a dilapidated brownstone on the Upper West Side, she meets twelve-year-old Ariel and her widowed father Gabriel, a man with his hands full trying to raise two daughters on his own. Soon, a promise made to her sisters forces Portia back into a world of magical food and swirling emotions, where she must confront everything she has been running from. What seems so simple on the surface is anything but when long-held secrets are revealed, rivalries exposed, and the promise of new love stirs to life like chocolate mixing with cream. 

The Glass Kitchen is a delicious novel, a tempestuous story of a woman washed up on the shores of Manhattan who discovers that a kitchen—like an island—can be a refuge, if only she has the courage to give in to the pull of love, the power of forgiveness, and accept the complications of what it means to be family.

My Thoughts: 

I'm seriously loving on this one!! It's one of those beautiful feel-good reads, right story, right time ... you know the one, warms your heart, leaving you feeling like you've been wrapped in a rainbow. 

Portia has a gift, a knowing connected with food, it's a beautiful, magical, healing thing when she allows it to come. 

I loved Portia from the start, I love how the story unfolded ... turmoil, chemistry, hurts, love and laughs. I wanted Gabriel and Portia to be together, neither were perfect but they seemed perfect for each other and I was torn between reading fast enough to see if my HEA wish was granted and savouring every delicious morsel.  

"I am going to prove to you that I listen. I am going to prove that I love you in that madly, deeply, let-you-eat-crackers-in-my-bed, shouting-Stella-from-the-courtyard sort of way."

Linda Francis Lee does justice to a full cast of characters. It's not all sunshine and roses, there are some unlikable characters in the mix but for the most part I adored them - Portia's sisters, quirky neighbours Stanley and Marcus, Gabriel's daughters ... I liked Miranda with all her teenage angst but I have a soft spot reserved for Gabriel's youngest daughter Ariel, she's pivotal in the story with her insight and sass. 

I can't recommend this one highly enough, if you love emotional reads with a touch of whimsy and magic, if you believe in the healing power of food and following your heart, you'll adore The Glass Kitchen. It really is love on a plate!

Fried Chicken with Sweet Jalapeno Mustard

2 cups panko
2 cups bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 eggs, scrambled (can use yoghurt or buttermilk instead)
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast (use kitchen mallet to pound into flat, even pieces)
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (use kitchen mallet to pound into flat, even pieces)
vegetable oil for pan frying

Mix the panko, bread crumbs and seasoning in a bowl for dipping, or a bag for shaking.
Dip the pieces of chicken into the egg to coat; then dip in the bowl of crumb mix. Coat the chicken in the mixture. (For extra-crispy chicken, repeat the dipping steps.) 
Cover the bottom of a large skillet with a thin layer of vegetable oil. Heat on medium-high until hot. Carefully fill the bottom of the pan with chicken pieces. Brown, approximately 4-6 minutes each side (depending on the thickness of chicken), until cooked thoroughly. Place on paper towel to drain. 

Sweet Jalapeno Mustard
6 tblsp mustard seeds
1/2 cup mustard powder
3 tblsp vinegar
1/2 cup white wine
2 tsp salt
2 tblsp honey
2 tblsp finely chopped jalapenos

Stir together the mustard seeds and mustard powder. Mix with the vinegar and wine. Add the salt. Mix thoroughly. Mix in the honey and jalapenos. Pour the mixture into a jar. Refrigerate anywhere from 1 to 3 days to bring out flavours. Makes approx 1 cup

There's some yummy recipes in the back of The Glass Kitchen. I love honey mustard dipping sauce with chicken (this fried chicken looks like the equivalent of our chicken schnitzel, which we make regularly) and the Sweet Jalapeno Mustard sounds like it has a big mustard kick. I'm going to make it, starting with 1/4 cup mustard powder and adjust from there. 

 Connect with Linda Francis Lee

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Audiobook Review: The Escape Artist by Diane Chamberlain

Title: The Escape Artist
Author: Diane Chamberlain
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publication Date: 15th July 2013 (1st published 1997)
Time: 10hrs 52mins 
Narrator: Coleen Marlo
Book Source: own audio

Synopsis: Susanna Miller loses custody of her eleven-month-old son, Tyler, but rather than turning the little boy over to her ex-husband and his new wife, she goes on the run. She dyes her hair, changes her name, and escapes from Boulder, Colorado, leaving behind everyone she knows, including Linc Sebastian, the man who has been her best friend since childhood and who knows her better than anyone. Susanna lands in Annapolis, Maryland, alone, frightened, and always looking over her shoulder for someone who might recognize her. Just as she's beginning to feel safe in her new surroundings, she stumbles across information that could save the lives of many people . . . if she's willing to take it to the police. But going to the authorities means revealing her identity, admitting her guilt, and worst of all, losing her son.

Equal parts family drama, love story, and thriller, The Escape Artist is the poignant story of a mother's unbreakable bond with her child and the resiliency of a love that transcends distance and time.

My Thoughts:
The Escape Artist is an entertaining story, relatable if a little dated but that's to be expected considering it was first published in 1997. Coleen Marlo is a narrator I haven't tried before; smooth voice, an easy listen, a narrator I'd be happy to listen to again. 

The Escape Artist held my interest and pulled at my heart strings, I was rooting for Susanna from the get go, understanding the lengths she went to to keep her son. Well paced, the plot is a little transparent, somewhat predictable and one of the sub plots a bit left field but overall it's an enjoyable, worthwhile listen. 

I'm a fan of Diane Chamberlain's work ... I've read 5 or 6 and have been slowly working my way through her backlist. My favourite is still The Midwife's Confession but I have her new book, The Silent Sister coming up soon. 

Connect with Diane Chamberlain

Monday, August 25, 2014

Review: Shatter by Erin McCarthy

Title: Shatter
Author: Erin McCarthy
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Series: True Believers #4
Publication Date: 2nd September 2014
Pages: 304
Book Source: Penguin Group & NetGalley

Synopsis: Kylie Warner prides herself on being optimistic, but after finding her best friend in bed with her boyfriend and flunking chemistry, her upbeat attitude has taken a dive. Even an impromptu hook-up with her sexy new chemistry tutor only brightens her mood slightly. After all, it’s not like she’ll ever see the tattooed scholar again…

While he’s a whiz at complex equations, Jonathon Kadisch has trouble when it comes to figuring out women. So when Kylie tells him that she’s pregnant after their night of passion, he’s at a complete loss. He’s prepared to be a good father—unlike his own deadbeat dad—but he’s less prepared to fall for the genuine and alluring blonde bearing his child.

With emotions running high, Kylie wonders if Jonathon’s devotion is out of growing love or looming obligation. And when heartbreak threatens to tear them apart, Jonathon will have to fight for the only girl who’s ever made him feel whole ...

Karen's Thoughts: 
This series has had many and varied reviews, some good and some not so good. It’s a series I have particularly enjoyed and would recommend reading it for yourself.

I really like how the author touches upon issues that are aimed at the College age group. Whilst the issues are not entirely pleasant to read about, I feel they have been quite realistic. In this book Ms McCarthy touches on Kylie’s ex having certain expectations in their physical relationship due to the amount of porn he watches online. Whilst Kylie was trying to be a ‘good girlfriend’ and please Nathan, it wasn’t making her feel particularly good about herself. Finding out that he had slept with one of her best friends has absolutely crushed her confidence. It was refreshing that she was sensible when it came to Nathan and didn’t believe his promises of better things.

Kylie is failing chemistry and here is where we get introduced to the geeky and extremely lovely Jonathon Kadisch, her new chemistry tutor. Fitting that not only is there chemistry on the pages they are studying, but also between themselves. On a whim they share a night together. Their attraction to each was just heart warming. I loved that Jonathon got to show Kylie just how a guy should treat a girl and that she was able to experience that it is about her just as much as it is him. Kylie then discovers she is pregnant yet they barely know each other and have a lot they need to work out.

I loved the geeky Jonathon and the chemistry jokes he shares with Kylie created some lightheartedness in their journey to being together. 

I have really enjoyed Erin McCarthy’s True Believers series and Shatter is most definitely my favourite.  I hope Ms McCarthy has more in store for us in this series.

Guest review by Karen

Connect with Erin McCarthy

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

A weekly event hosted by Sheila from Book Journey to discuss your reading week ~ the books you've read and those you plan on reading in the coming week. I love this meme, it helps me stay on track ... well, most of the time. Thanks Sheila! 

As always a fun time at our scrapbook retreat, lots of laughs and creativity and wonderful catching up with friends but we missed Karen this time around (Karen also guest reviews on my blog.) I made 2 of each layout, one for myself and one for Mia's album :)

Kit by Jodie King


#bookblogwalkers update #30: Felicia's Book Blog Walkers: August is being hosted by Jen @ That's What I'm Talking About. Only 3 days of walking and the weekend was spent scrapbooking, not that I would have walked, we had 2 days of torrential rain lol. My mission this week is to get back on track. If you have a fitbit and want to add me, let me know :) 

Mon: no walk (5100 steps)
Tue: 45 min walk with Bella (14,400 steps)
Wed: 45 min walk with Bella (8000 steps)
Thurs: 20 min walk with Bella (8,700 steps)
Fri: raining and scrapbook retreat (4360 steps)
Sat: raining and scrapbook retreat (2300 steps big oops)
Sun: scrapbook retreat (5750 steps)


Reviews & Posts: (click on title)

DETAINED by Ainslie Paton ~ not what I expected but HOT and I liked :)

A MAN CALLED OVE by Fredrik Backman ~ unexpectedly delightful, 4.5 stars


Finished last week:

THE GLASS KITCHEN  by Linda Francis Lee ~ squeee in love with this book, adored the magical realism. 5 star fave!! 


This Week's Reading List: 

LYREBIRD HILL by Anna Romer ~ new release from the author of Thornwood House. Really good so far.

THE DARKEST HOUR by Barbara Erskine (audiobook) ~ great, love Barbara Erskine



Reviews Coming: 

SHATTER by Erin McCarthy (True Believers #4) ~ guest review by Karen tonight

THE ESCAPE ARTIST by Diane Chamberlain (audiobook) ~ good, 4 stars

MAYBE SOMEDAY by Colleen Hoover ~ loved it!!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Review: Detained by Ainslie Paton

Title: Detained
Author: Ainslie Paton
Genre: Romantic Suspense/Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: 1st September 2013
Pages: 250
Book Source: own purchase

Synopsis: Confined in a cold, dull room in the depths of a Shanghai airport, a journalist chasing a career break and a businessman with a shadowy past play a game of truth or dare — deliberately not exchanging names.

They tell each other their most painful secrets and burning desires. One dare leads to a kiss and a wild night of illicit passion, setting off a dangerous sequence of events, bringing exposure and disgrace.

Only the brutal truth can save them. But it will also rip them apart. And it will take more than daring before they can build a new truth together.

My Thoughts:
I'm blaming Kathryn @ Book Date for this one HA, Ainslie Paton is an Australian author I hadn't read or even heard of until I read Kathryn's review of Detained. This is story that benefits from going in 'blind' so I'm not going to give much away. Let me just say I was expecting one thing and got a whole lot more.

Journalist Darcy Campbell has just snagged a career making interview with the reclusive Will Parker, Australian billionaire entrepreneur living in Shanghai. I loved both characters, far from cookie cutter perfect, fascinating back-stories, believable. 

Detained has quite an erotic start, I'm actually surprised I wasn't rolling my eyes muttering *unbelievable* ... far from it. I was sucked in ... hooked on the danger and hotness. And if that isn't enough to get your heart racing, top notch character development is backed up by a story with depth and bucket loads of emotion. Detained has it all ... in spades, making this no garden-variety romance. It's intense and edgy and sexy as all hell. 

I'll definitely be reading more from Ainslie Paton :)

Connect with Ainslie Paton

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Title: A Man Called Ove
Author: Fredrik Backman
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publication Date: 3rd July 2014 (1st published 2012)
Pages: 304
Book Source: Hatchette Australia & NetGalley

Synopsis: There is something about Ove.

At first sight, he is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet. He thinks himself surrounded by idiots - neighbours who can't reverse a trailer properly, joggers, shop assistants who talk in code, and the perpetrators of the vicious coup d'etat that ousted him as Chairman of the Residents' Association. He will persist in making his daily inspection rounds of the local streets.

But isn't it rare, these days, to find such old-fashioned clarity of belief and deed? Such unswerving conviction about what the world should be, and a lifelong dedication to making it just so?

In the end, you will see, there is something about Ove that is quite irresistible...

My Thoughts:
Hard to believe this is Swedish author Fredrik Backman's debut novel ... what an unexpected delight! Can't believe I've used delight ... for a story in which the protagonist, 59 year old Ove wants nothing more than to end his life and join Sonja, his wife of 40 years who has recently passed. 

Ove is a grump, a die-hard Saab owner, a man who lives by the rules, cynical, ornery, taciturn but underneath all that bluster is a marshmallow heart. According to Sonja, Ove can be 'unforgiving' ...  Ove calls it having 'firm principles'

As we get Ove's backstory, we see him through Sonja's eyes, we share their sweet love story, and we feel Ove's heartache after Sonja dies and the colour leaves his world. 

Enter new neighbours, Parvaneh and her family, a stray cat, a bunch of other interesting characters, a list of demands, and Ove's ordered life goes out the window. Along the way for me were unexpected laughs, tears and joy as Ove found new meaning and purpose in life. Oh that mangy cat and Ove were a match made in heaven :) 

A Man Called Ove is a whole lot of feeling ... deeply touching, warm, sweet, snerk-funny, smart, sad, endearing. I laughed and cried. It really is quite irresistible. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

A weekly event hosted by Sheila from Book Journey to discuss your reading week ~ the books you've read and those you plan on reading in the coming week. I love this meme, it helps me stay on track ... well, most of the time. Thanks Sheila! 

I didn't get much reading done but I made a dent in book reviews (still not caught up though) and I'm not sure how much I'll get done this week as Alaine and I have scrapbook camp this weekend. Can't wait to scrap some photos of my darling granddaughter. They were living 5 mins away but now they're a 4 hour drive, but could be worse ... there's Skype and Christine and Anthony send me a photo or video almost every day. Time for a visit soon :)

We had a day of much needed rain here on Saturday and then Sunday we spent a fun day at the Ekka, (QLD show) ... I hadn't been in over 10 years. I love the animal nursery ... can you tell?

All proceeds from Strawberry Sundaes go to 
Prince Charles Hospital Research so I had two ;)


#bookblogwalkers update #30: Felicia's Book Blog Walkers: August is being hosted by Jen @ That's What I'm Talking About. I hit my target averaging 8000 steps/day. Now to maintain and get a little more daily consistency. 

Mon: no walk (5100 steps)
Tue: 60 min walk with Bella (15,000 + steps for day)
Wed: 45 min walk with Bella (8000 steps for day)
Thurs: 30 min walk with Bella (14,000 steps)
Fri: no walk (5089 steps)
Sat: rained all day, no walking but I did book reviews HA (2700 steps oops)
Sun: couple of hours walking around the Ekka show, to bus etc (12,000 steps)


Reviews & Posts: (click on title)

DANCING ON KNIVES by Kate Forsyth ~ passion & family dynamics in Australian setting, 4 stars. Weekend Cooking post. 

THE HOUSE ON MERMAID POINT by Wendy Wax (Beach Road #3) ~ 4.5 stars 

THE HOMECOMING by Robyn Carr (Thunder Point #6) ~ guest review by Karen, 4 stars


Finished last week:

A MAN CALLED OVE by Fredrik Backman ~ unexpectedly delightful


This Week's Reading List: 

THE GLASS KITCHEN  by Linda Francis Lee ~ loving and savouring this one 

LYREBIRD HILL by Anna Romer ~ new release from the author of Thornwood House

THE DARKEST HOUR by Barbara Erskine (audiobook) ~ chapter 20. Love Barbara Erskine


Reviews Coming: 

DETAINED by Ainslie Paton ~ not what I expected but HOT and I liked :)

THE ESCAPE ARTIST by Diane Chamberlain (audiobook) ~ good, 4 stars

MAYBE SOMEDAY by Colleen Hoover ~ loved it!!