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.


mac cookies-asher




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)




I borrowed this one from Bolinda online borrowing through the Brisbane City Council Libraries and read along with the paperback. Dennis Olsen narrated this book and did a fabulous job of transporting you to Liesel’s side. The intervals of accordion music added a nice touch.

suzak_bookWe’re all so used to the atrocious tales of the mistreatment of Jews in Nazi Germany: concentration camps and pure evil, and usually told from the point of view of a victim. Our narrator is Death. Yep, you read that correctly, Death–busy guy in those years.

He tells us what he witnesses while observing the life of a German girl, displaced by circumstance. She is brought up by people who do their best to counteract injustices, even if they can only help a few people.

Liesel is just a girl, and yet she is so much more. She hungers for knowledge. She gets on with life and books help her travel on her journey with courage and chutzpah. There’s perhaps a little Liesel in all of us who treasure our books.

I was charmed, amused, engaged, enraged, and brought to tears by this beautifully crafted story written by Markus Zusak.

I’m getting goosebumps just watching the trailer. I couldn’t stand it if they haven’t done the original justice.

Audio book link

Paperback, 584 pages

Published November 1st 2013 by Picador Australia (first published January 1st 2005)

ISBN 1743515863 (ISBN13: 9781743515860)



Now I knew this would be a tearjerker of a movie thanks to the book, but the big mystery would be if the director, Brian Percival, could do justice to Mark’s book.

In short, the answer is YES! The visual element adds to the story in both beautiful and horrific ways.

The casting is perfect, from the narration of Death by Roger Allam, to Sophie Nelisse as Liesel Meminger. It completely matched the vision in my mind. This may have been because I had seen the trailer before reading the book, but I was convinced nonetheless.

Admittedly, some of the more graphic parts, such as some of the more horrific treatment of prisoners by the Nazi soldiers, were left out of the film, but I don’t think it would have added to the emotional impact. If anything, it would have lessened it with shock value, rather than allowing the story to flow.

I will definitely be watching this one again, because under all the tragedy and emotional turmoil, there is a heartfelt and solid story of strength, survival. and beauty.

Verdict – If you’re short on time, watch the movie. If you’re in the mood to be moved, pick the book. Either way, you’re not going to lose. Just make sure you have the tissues on hand.

Out intrepid reviewer, cook, feature writer and friend shares what she got up to in 2014 (and included some footage of Laini Taylor, Isobelle Carmody, and Trent Jamieson at the BWF). As you can see, she’s quite a gal!


Belinda_kisses_tnThis was a year for my favourite series to end. One after the other, they fell like dominoes. This both pleases me because it frees up these brilliant authors to move onto fresh concepts, and saddens me; some of my favourite worlds and characters will only live on in the pages or in my head. I didn’t want to make this list all about the series which ended in 2014, but a couple made it here regardless.


van wagen-popular-a-memoir-by-maya-van-wagenenThe Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

I was holding out on this one because I’m not a fan of so much hype. I LOVED this; so yeah, I joined the voices of the people at the cinemas telling anyone who hadn’t read the book to do so ASAP. Well worth it.


Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek – Maya Van Wagenen

I saw Maya speak on one of my morning programs and was blown away by how mature she is; I had to read her book. Apart from being a well-spoken young lady, she is an accomplished writer. She’s going to be powerful in her own right.


Sacrifice – Brigid Kemmerer

There are no plans for any more books on the Merrick Brothers, which breaks my heart. As far as final books go, this one is certainly going to set you outside your comfort zone, in a gut wrenching way. I’d pay Brigid to keep writing about this family, but I know I can’t afford her extensive talents.


After the End – Amy Plum

Juneau hooked and landed me. I hope she’ll kick some serious backside in the next book Until the Beginning.


Dreams of Gods and Monsters – Laini Taylor

I love it when a series ends exactly how you wanted it too. Laini crafted these worlds and characters like a boss.


Most Anticipated


kenyon_instinctThe Darkest Part of the Forest – Holly Black

I’ve read the review copy we received in Sydney, and, oh my gosh, you guys are going to love it.


Until the Beginning – Amy Plum

Janeau is gonna kick some butt and have me fist pumping till the end of this instalment; I can just tell.


Vision in Silver – Anne Bishop

These characters make me giggle, and Anne has crafted a conundrum of epic proportions for them to untangle. I cannot wait.


Hello, Goodbye and Everything In Between – Jennifer E. Smith

I am looking forward to some for some light, fluffy happy stuff to read, but I have to wait until September to get some.


Instinct – Sherrilyn Kenyon

Book 6 in the Chronicles of Nick series is shaping up to be a heart stopping joyride



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