Thursday, 9 February 2017

Dawn Study by Maria V Snyder

Title: Dawn Study
Author: Maria V Snyder
Publisher: Harlequin Australia
Date of Publication: January 23rd, 2017
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher


New York Times bestselling author Maria V. Snyder brings her Poison Study series to its exhilarating conclusion.

Despite the odds, Yelena and Valek have forged an irrevocable bond and a family that transcends borders. Now, when their two homelands stand on the brink of war, they must fight with magic and cunning to thwart an Ixian plot to invade Sitia.

Yelena seeks to break the hold of the insidious Theobroma that destroys a person's resistance to magical persuasion. But the Cartel is determined to keep influential citizens and Sitian diplomats in thrall and Yelena at bay. With every bounty hunter after her, Yelena is forced to make a dangerous deal.

With might and magic, Valek peels back the layers of betrayal surrounding the Commander. At its rotten core lies a powerful magician and his latest discovery. The fate of all rests upon two unlikely weapons. One may turn the tide. The other could spell the end of everything.


This final part of Yelena's story has been a long time coming. Yelena and Valek are one of the most enduring couples in fantasy. Despite each being hated in the other's home country, and being kept separate for much of their relationship by their duty to their respective leaders. With her pregnancy to worry about and the loss of her powers, Yelena is perhaps at her most vulnerable. Despite this, she must convince Sitia's leaders that they are being controlled by magic, and free them of this influence so they can take back power. Valek must face the Commander one last time as his loyalty is pushed to its limits. At stake is not only the fragile peace between Sitia and Ixia, but the fate of all magicians.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Long Way Home by Katie McGarry

Title: Long Way Home
Author: Katie McGarry
Publisher: Harlequin Teen Australia
Date of Publication: 1st February 2017
Source: Purchased by reviewer


Seventeen-year-old Violet has always been expected to sit back and let the boys do all the saving.

It’s the code her father, a member of the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, raised her to live by. Yet when her dad is killed carrying out Terror business, Violet knows it’s up to her to do the saving. To protect herself, and her vulnerable younger brother, she needs to cut all ties with the club—including Chevy, the boy she’s known and loved her whole life.

But when a rival club comes after Violet, exposing old secrets and making new threats, she’s forced to question what she thought she knew about her father, the Reign of Terror, and what she thinks she wants. Which means re-evaluating everything: love, family, friends . . . and forgiveness.

Caught in the crosshairs between loyalty and freedom, Violet must decide whether old friends can be trusted—and if she’s strong enough to be the one person to save them all.


Violet has had a troubled relationship with the Reign of Terror since her dad died. She broke up with Chevy when he wouldn't choose her ahead of the club, even though it broke her heart. She spent enough time around the club while growing up to see the way they treat women, as property to be protected, or as objects to be used and discarded. Violet intends to be neither. Still blaming the club for the death of her father, her strained relationship with Eli, son of the club president and her father's best friend, is a source of conflict for all concerned. Eli sees it as his job to look after Violet and her mother and brother. Violet wants nothing to do with any of them.

When Violet and Chevy are placed in a life of death situation, Violet finds it difficult to maintain the distance she's created between them. She still loves him, she always has, but can he make the choice to put her first?

Chevy knows that Violet doesn't want him to join the Terror, and neither does his mother. But how can he choose between them and his family? An encounter with The Riot leads him to question what he knows about his father, as well as his own loyalties, and forces him to make the choice he's been avoiding for so long.

I am a big fan of Katie McGarry's Pushing the Limits series, and I've equally enjoyed the Thunder Road series. It stands alone, separate from Pushing the Limits, but in this book there is a long-awaited crossover which will delight fans of the original series.

In my review of the second Thunder Road book, I commented that I wasn't entirely happy that the objectification of women by the motorcycle club wasn't really addressed. It was just presented as something you had to accept if you wanted to be with a member of the club. Violet refuses to accept it, and it does get a bit more attention in this book.

I was expecting my investment in these characters to have dwindled a bit, but it hasn't. The action and drama start early on, placing a massive burden on both Chevy and Violet, and the tension comes from whether they'll share that with each other, and find a way to mend their relationship, or deal with it alone. I found myself genuinely emotionally invested in their story, and while a HEA might seem inevitable, nothing was certain until the end.

It would have been nice to have seen more of the female characters from the previous books, but that's a very minor gripe.

There is enough here that this book works as a standalone if you haven't read the previous books in the series, but for maximum impact, I would suggesting reading both series in publication order.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Milkbar Memories by Jane Lawson

 As well as reading fiction, I collect cookbooks. My oldest books are older than I am, and I add to my collection every chance I get. At last count I had somewhere over 70.

I'm going to review some of them on here from time to time. Here's the first.

Title: Milkbar Memories
Author: Jane Lawson
Publisher: Murdoch Books
Year of Publication: 2016
Source: Purchased by reviewer


I had a flick through this book in the book store and knew I had to buy it. It has recipes for musk sticks and marshmallow and fizzy sherbert, milkshake and drink recipes and hot food like burgers and even quiche.

Milkbars are different throughout Australia. Here in Victoria, certainly in my memory, they were corner stores that had a sweet counter, an ice cream freezer and a drinks fridge, with a few other essentials. You'd go to buy milk and the paper and come home with a bag full of lollies.

In other parts of Australia (and maybe here, before my time) they also served hot food and cold drinks.

Milkbar Memories evokes nostalgia for a time when one dollar could get you enough lollies and hot chips to feed all of your friends and make you the most popular kid in school, for the day, at least.

The photos in the book are beautiful, and the recipes are clear and easy to follow with lots of variations included.

If you grew up with milkshakes and one cent sweets and burgers from the chip shop, then you'll love this book.

Recipe trial:

I've been dying to try some of the sweet recipes in the book, but today my kids wanted potato cakes for lunch. This is something I make occasionally, but I'm always up for a new batter recipe, so I thought I'd give the one in this book a go. The recipe in the book was for the NSW style potato scallop, which requires a thicker slice of potato (like you'd find in the UK Midlands) that you precook before coating in batter. We prefer the thinner style, so I cut the potatoes to around 3mm thick on my mandolin slicer (my slicer of choice is the Tupperware Mandochef).

The batter came together really well, it was only flour, baking powder and iced soda water (we made it ourselves using a SodaStream) with a bit of salt. It provided a thin and pretty even coating that bubbled and crisped well.

I cooked them in a deep fryer with sunflower oil, for around 5 minutes per batch.

I was a bit enthusiastic with the potatoes and we ended up with far too many potato cakes, so I took them into my husband's work where they disappeared within minutes. They've requested more tomorrow, but since my kitchen now smells like a fish shop, I've said no.

Want to see more recipe book reviews? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Kids Blurb Books - It Looks Like This

It Looks Like This by Rafi Mittlefehldt

J - age 9

I think this book is about someone who's always trying to show people things and they say, "It looks like this." It's a novel, and the person says, "It looks like this."

I - age 5

Like somebody who is like walking down the street and then like they go to school and there's loads of loads of floating candy in the air. They try to get it and the teacher says, "That's not how you try to get candy floating, it goes like this."

(There may be some wish fulfilment going on there)

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Kids Blurb Books - Someone I Wanted to Be

This is a new feature where kids tell me what they think a book is about, based on the cover.

Someone I Wanted to Be by Aurelia Wills

J - age 9

This book is about someone who wanted to be someone really famous and then, like, they had to teach them how to be it, and people are, like, "You can't be them, you have to be yourself," and the person they wanted to be taught them how to be that person and then when they left, the person who wanted to be them got used to being unique and started to be anyone they wanted to be.