Geragotelis_witchI absolutely loved What the Spell, and when I was offered Life’s a Witch for review, there was no way I was going to turn down the offer! Brittany Geragotelis’s story was light and the characters were fun.

Even though I was excited to get into this one and see what some of my favorite characters were up to, Life’s a Witch rubbed me the wrong way right from the beginning. I was a bit thrown off when the story started with an entirely different character: Hadley Bishop.

It wasn’t that I didn’t like her. I actually found her pretty cool, but I was expecting this second installment to be from the same perspective as the first.

Hadley is the queen bee at her high school and, with the help of her spells, she can make herself practically perfect and absolutely beautiful. She isn’t just any queen bee though; she is a descendent of the first woman executed at the Salem Witch Trials.

Hadley and all the witches in her community are part of a coven where everyone knows about each other and their powers. The coven trains their children for safety and to protect each other. Their main goal is to keep their true identities and powers a secret. I mean, could you imagine what might happen if people found out about a witch coven?

Hadley, on the other hand, isn’t very interested in the coven. She doesn’t like going to the meetings and she can think of a million other things she would rather do. That is until some of the coven’s members go missing one night, and then the rest of the parents the next night.

Hadley doesn’t know what to do at first. She isn’t even sure if her mum is ‘missing’ or if she’s just out. When a whole day goes by, she decides to contact some of the other kids in the coven to see if they might know what’s going on. With every phone call she makes a worried kid answers and says they have no idea what’s happened and that their parents are gone as well.

The group of teenage witches gather to decide what to do and how to destroy the coven that has kidnapped their parents. They spend the next couple of days training, learning how to fight, and teaching one another spells. Hadley takes charge because she’s the strongest witch out of the group and it’s what she does.

The group is ready to do anything and everything to safe their parents, even if it means losing their own lives…

I have to admit, Life’s a Witch was an enjoyable read. It wasn’t anything too dark or crazy, but instead a bit of a lighter read. But even with this enjoyment, there were a few things that confused me and caught me off guard.

  1. The main character: Why wasn’t she the same person as in the first book? I guess I just assumed that the story would continue to revolve around Brooklyn. I really liked Brooklyn and found her hilarious!
  2. Asher: Who is he? I mean, I know who he is, but he is a completely different guy to the one I got to know in What the Spell. He acted differently and said things that I wouldn’t have expected from him.

I was just so confused about these two characters when they were each first introduced. I wasn’t sure what the author had in store for her readers, but I tried my best to remain open-minded throughout the rest of the book. Within a few chapters I started to like Hadley and the new Asher. Hadley was fun, hardworking, and wanted to save the coven’s parents. She wasn’t going to give up and she wasn’t going to let her mum just ‘disappear’.

Other than that, I guess I was just holding my breath for more fighting and action scenes. Don’t get me wrong, there were two, but I just figured it would take much more than a group of semi-trained teenagers and two battles to win a war.

Overall, the characters made this story for me, even though they weren’t who I was expecting. The third book is already out, and I do plan on reading it soon!



Mandy Wrangles_2_tnWhen Gourmet Hot Dogs arrived in my letterbox, the first thing I had to do was wrangle it from my teenage son. Hot dogs are a firm Saturday lunchtime favourite in our house, and within minutes my teen was suggesting (read: nagging) all sorts of amazing toppings and homemade buns to up the ante of our usual cheese and tomato sauce on soft white bread.

 


gourmet hot dogsGourmet Hot Dogs
is an impressive book (trust me, this is the first time my teen has shown the vaguest interest in any sort of cookbook), every double page spread includes a stunning photograph paired with a recipe and suggestions for gourmet toppings. And we’re not just talking about your average frankfurt here. Recipes include a range of different sausages, buns, and a whole section on the perfect side for your dog, including sauces and quick, simple relish and chutneys.

There’s a twist on the old Chilli Dog – a veal sausage paired with kidney beans, piquillos peppers and melted cheddar served with a milk bun; the Musclor Dog, made with a cervelat sausage (Reynaud gives handy suggestions for substitutes if your local butcher doesn’t have much of a gourmet range), mustard, pear (!) and brie cheese; the Capri comes with a chipolata, caperberries, cucumber and tomato pesto, while the Patate has a merguez sausage, potato, pine nuts and curry sauce.

Sound strange? Trust me – looks delish enough that this will be the first one I try.

Stéphane Reynaud is a renowned chef, and owner of restaurant Bill 9 Trois, just outside Paris. Gourmet Hot Dogs is his eighth cookbook. The others include: Pork & Sons, Terrine, Ripailles, Rotis, 365 Good Reasons to Sit Down to Eat, Pies and Tarts and Book of Tripe. If you’re looking for a cookbook that will interest the whole family, I don’t think you can go past Gourmet Hot Dogs.

*The fries! I forgot to mention the fries. And the House Potato Crisps. Oh my!

 

Gourmet Hot Dogs – How To Dress Your Dog With Style By Stéphane Reynaud 

‘Gourmet Hot Dogs: How to dress your dog with style is the piece de resistance of dude food, casual snacks and the family dinner table. Featuring 60 easy, tasty hot dog recipes, prepared with passion in charming French style, Gourmet Hot Dogs elevates sausages in buns from hastily devoured snacks to truly memorable food experiences through imaginative topping combinations.’

Murdoch Books
Published: August 2014
Page: 144 Pages
ISBN: 9781743363133
Price: AUD $29.99

 

 

 



Joelene_tnJoelene Pynnonen says: ‘I’ve always stayed away from caramel slices, thinking that they were well out of my cooking ability. This recipe, however, is incredibly easy and delicious.’

 

 


caramel sliceBase

1 cup plain flour

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup desiccated coconut

125g melted butter

Pinch salt

 

Filling

2 tins sweetened condensed milk

4 tbs golden syrup

120g melted butter

 

Topping

125g dark chocolate

 

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease and line a deep, 28 x 18cm pan.

Base:

Mix all base ingredients well. Press tightly into prepared pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden. Remove from oven. Cool.

 Filling:

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, for 8 minutes. Pour over cooled base. Bake for 12 minutes in 180° oven. Cool completely. Refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours.

Topping:

Melt chocolate. Pour over caramel. Refrigerate to set. Cut into squares to serve

 



Belinda_kisses_tnJoelene and I are Sydney bound next month, and we are tremendously excited. I thought I’d take you along on my journey to get my butt organised. *Please note all plugs are completely shameless, and I am only writing about the experiences I would recommend to friends*

Bel_lindy bop dress from ursalady#1 Up, up, and away – I looked it all up online, found the cheapest flights and the closest hotel to the event. *Holy COW it’s not cheap to travel by plane.* I then went to Escape Travel at Garden City and the lovely agent, Daniel, helped me book everything, including travel insurance. I pick up my tickets and stuff sometime this week. Thank you Daniel!

#2 Threads – Ebay has been my friend, though nothing can beat looking in bricks and mortar stores and trying things on. Kick ass Kirstin from Ursalady at Stones Corner suggested I try on a Lindy-Bop dress many had tried and nobody had fitted into as yet. I tried it, and not only did it fit, but it looked amazing. I will definitely be going back to Ursalady. Thank you, Kirstin!

#3 Hop to it – We have a few things booked to do while we’re over the border, the least of which is shopping, so comfortable shoes are a must have item. I haven’t been properly fitted for shoes since I was in primary school (Just a little while ago, huh?), so I treated myself to a trip to Gilmour’s Comfort Shoes at Mount Gravatt. The shoe fitter extraordinaire, Lisa, was saintly in her battle to fit my itty bitty tootsies. We found a beautiful pair of Ziera shoes (they’re named Babette) and, not only were they the last pair she had to offer me, but they were on sale.  Thank you Lisa!

#4 Hairs lookin’ at you, kid – Now comes the trek half a world away (I do exaggerate a little) to have my eyebrows tamed. I was devastated when my favourite beautician, Kelly, switched salons on me. S+S at Carindale. To keep the Jim Henson people away from me once the photos are posted online, I need the Muppet removed off my face. (Bert has to be my brother from another mother.) Kelly is gentle and thorough. Thank you Kelly!

#5 Hair today gone tomorrow – The last thing, besides packing obviously, will be getting my hair trimmed. Thankfully I’ve had a pretty wash and wear style for the past year (gone are those long tresses) so it’s just going to be a maintenance trip to I Heart Hair at Browns Plains, where I swear by the scissor skills and blade work  of Katharine. I am telling no lies, when I say Kat is only the 4th hair stylist in my 30 something years who can cut my hair correctly. I know she’ll make me look good. Thank you Katharine!

All we have to do now is wait. Pics and clips to come.

What do you to prepare for an exciting event?



kenyon_illusionJust when you thought there is nothing Sherrilyn could do to make Nick Gautier suffer more…along comes Illusion. Two words: alternate reality. Uh huh, everything is not as it seems, and how the heck is Nick going to get back to his own type of ‘normal’?

We flick between Nick’s usual reality and the one he’s stuck in. We see his friends trying to get him back to where he’s supposed to be, and his ‘friends’ trying to make his life a living hell. I don’t think Nick will ever see his destiny in the same way again.

I’ve loved this series to date, and Illusion ups the stakes by so much you wonder how the next book will top that. (Didn’t I say something similar in the review for Inferno?)

Kenyon is skilled at making her characters relatable yet vulnerable, without being complete pushovers. Her female characters have no problem saving the day and doing what needs to be done, regardless of the cost. Each person has their own quirks and mannerisms, with voices as individual as a fingerprint. There really is something special about how Sherrilyn has crafted this series.

Her world building is second to none, and considering she now has over 70 books published, you would expect the level of confidence and strength we see in both The Chronicles of Nick and the Dark Hunter series, along with many others.

Defiant, book 6, is due out in 2015 and will absolutely be on my most-anticipated-reads list.

http://www.sherrilynkenyon.com/ 

Paperback, 464 pages

Published April 3rd 2014 by ATOM (first published April 1st 2014)

ISBN 1907411577 (ISBN13: 9781907411571)


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