keplinger-the-duffWARNING: There is a fair bit of adult content to contend with, so not for younger readers

I was reading this book with the express purpose of a book versus movie write up; however, after watching the trailer, I don’t think I’ll be sinking money into seeing the film. If the deviations from the book are that obvious in a minute long clip… nope, not going there.

As for the book, I got it read it in less than 24 hours: virtually one sitting. I even took it to dinner at a restaurant to find out what happened next.

Kody has done a great job of making her characters easy to relate to and flawed. The parental units are visible even from the back seat of the storyline. They have their own demons to slay, and I like that they have their own character arcs and aren’t just tea pots.

The general storyline is about Bianca and Wesley. Their ‘enemies with benefits relationship’ is sordid and twisted, beginning when Wesley asks Bianca what it’s like being the Duff of her friendship group. (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)

Between all the sex, and the secrets, there’s a tale of addiction, personal struggles, and the importance of being true to yourself, at any age. On the surface this seems like it would be a shallow fluff of a book, but it surely runs deeper than expected.

A perfect read for the Easter Holidays.

Oh, and let me know what you thought of the film if you saw it.

Paperback, 320 pages

Published January 13th 2015 by Poppy (first published September 7th 2010)

ISBN 0316381802 (ISBN13: 9780316381802)



Belinda_kisses_tnBelinda interviews Lauren Galley as her latest book KISSING FROGS is released. You can read Bel’s review here.


Lauren GalleyThe theme of your book ‘Kissing Frogs’ is to have self-awareness enough to move on from less than ideal relationships. How did it feel laying your stories out for everyone to see?

The thought of sharing my awkward, embarrassing and sometimes scary dating stories for the world to see gave me a little anxiety but in order to get my message across to young girls, I knew I had to find common ground and refrain from preaching. Instead, I felt my stories would be relatable and my honesty might tug at their hearts enough to question their perspective on dating.

How do you think people can go about breaking the cycle of divorce and failed relationships?

This is really tough. I believe breaking this cycle starts from when we are a child. I grew up in a very loving stable home with parents who believed in being in the moment with their children. I learned the values of kindness, right vs wrong and respect from a very early age. Being surrounded by positive mentors gave me the fundamental building block to make smart choices and not be afraid of knowing my self worth.

Did you read any relationship self-help books while you were dating? If so, which ones made you think more positively?

I loved reading books in high school…still do but wish I had more time. I never came across a popular book about dating; one that was written from a peer’s perspective. This is one of the reasons I felt inspired to write “Kissing Frogs.” I didn’t have a big sister growing up and as we all know, girls love reading about others experiences.

galley-frogsFor any guys who are desperate to figure out the ideal first date to keep the pressure off, what would you suggest?

I love this question and I think I can speak for most of the girls out there when I say that a first date should always be without tons of distraction. Movies, busy restaurants and house parties don’t allow us to have great conversations. A lot can be determined on a first date if you ask the right questions and really get to know the person you are considering a relationship with. Keep it simple guys!! A fun picnic at the park, a coffee date, or even something fun like a game of putt putt golf or bowling. First dates can be a little nerve-wracking so do something fun and end with an opportunity to ask those important questions. One last thing guys, never put a girl in a situation that she feels too isolated. Girls want to have fun, talk and feel safe.

sophie delezioMost Australians have heard of this young woman who has overcome not one but two serious accidents in her almost fourteen years of life.

In December 2003, she survived a car crashing into her childcare centre. She sustained burns to 85% of her body and it took six months of recovery before she could go home. Keep in mind she was two years old at the time and ended up losing both her feet, one hand and her right ear.

Seeing a gap in the system to support parents and families of kids who survive serious accidents, Sophie’s parents founded the Day of Difference foundation.

Not to be held back, Sophie started school in January of 2006. Five months later, while crossing the road at a pedestrian crossing in her wheelchair with her Nanny and assistance dog, Tara, Sophie was hit by a car. She sustained injuries including, but not limited to, a broken shoulder and jaw, and she suffered a heart attack.

She was back at school in July of the same year. What a champion effort by her family, friends, specialists and therapists.

Nine years on and Sophie has been on numerous TV shows talking about her road to recovery, she has a book called Sophie’s Journey written by Sally Collings, and is taking an active role in her family’s foundation.

In loving memory of Sophie’s assistance dog, Tara, Day of Difference is giving kids in hospitals the chance to have a fluffy cuddle buddy thanks to the generous donations from the public. For more information head here

Here’s a clip from Studio 10 of Sophie talking about the Tara hug buddies

There is also a bike ride coined Distance for a Difference Tour, happening in March of this year.  For more information go here. I think you’d all agree Sophie is an incredibly courageous young woman and should be recognised for beating the odds.

Sophie’s Journey

By Sally Collings

Paperback, 432 pages

Published May 1st 2008 by HarperCollins Australia (first published May 1st 2007)

ISBN 0732285534 (ISBN13: 9780732285531)


Mandy Wrangles_2_tnCrisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, white chocolate and macadamias. What more you could ask for in a cookie?

This is a huge recipe – not in time or effort, but certainly in the amount of cookies you’ll have left to devour once it’s done. My family of boys can manage a double batch without a problem, you (and Bel) might decide to half the amounts I’ve given here.


mac cookies rawWHAT YOU NEED:

1 cup of softened butter. No, not margarine. Butter.

1 cup of white sugar.

¾ cup of brown sugar, packed.

2 tsp of vanilla extract.

1 tsp of salt.

2 large eggs.

3 cups of plain flour.

1 ½ tsp baking soda.

150g chopped macadamia nuts.

150g white chocolate chips.


mac cookiesHOW IT’S DONE:

Pre heat your oven to a low 140 c. In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugars and vanilla extract until it turns fluffy and takes on a lighter colour. An electric mixer will make your life easier, but it’s not essential for this recipe. Then add eggs one at a time. The mixture might appear to curdle at first, but it will come together.

In a second bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add this mix to the butter and egg mixture until all combined. It’s seriously easy to end up in a big mess with flour flying everywhere if you don’t take your time with this bit. Go on…ask me how I know! Or, maybe don’t. Add the chocolate chips and macadamia nuts at this point. You might want to get your hands in there to mix until pretty much even.

Line a baking tray or three with baking paper (my favourite thing in the kitchen, saves on washing up). Spoon one tablespoon of mix into balls in your hands, then place on tray. Don’t place too close together, as they WILL spread. Cooking time is only about ten to eleven minutes – you won’t think they’re ready yet, but look for the slight golden brown change in colour around the edge of your cookies. They’ll still be quite soft. Allow to cool for a minute or two, then slide off with a spatula. Overcook and you’ll lose that lovely chewy consistency. Of course, if you prefer your cookies with that bit more crunch, then by all means bake for a little longer.


and now Bel videos her version of Mandy’s recipe



rowell_eleanor and parkWhat do you think of when I say 1980’s? As a child who grew up in the 80’s, the first things that come to mind are bad hair, mixed tapes, and walkmans. Rainbow Rowell makes the era come alive through the eyes of Eleanor and Park, two totally mismatched teens who are trying to find their way through high school.

We hear the story from both Eleanor’s and Park’s points of view throughout the book, and it is really interesting to see Park’s opinions evolve and his demeanour change as he gets to know Eleanor. She becomes more than just the scruffy looking new girl on the bus that nobody wants to sit with. She has body image issues and can’t catch a break with the bullies. For her, he is the calm in her stormy life.

There are elements in this book that make it unsuitable for younger readers, and quite frankly, these things even made me feel a little uneasy. Not because they were graphic or scary, but horrific in the way that domestic violence and abuse within families happens every day and nothing is done about it.

Like the film My Girl is firmly set in the 1970’s, Eleanor and Park would be a completely different story if set in any other decade. Though their lives are anything but easy, they came from an era when life on the whole was simpler.

If you can remember the 80’s, this will make you nostalgic and soppy; if you don’t, it feels just like things were ‘back then’.

This is a good book for a spring weekend in the shade, or a cool autumn afternoon in bed.

Paperback, 325 pages

Published February 1st 2013 by Orion (first published April 12th 2012)


1409120546 (ISBN13: 9781409120544)



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