26 June, 2013

Pride and Prejudice update

Remember the Pride and Prejudice challenge I set? Well it's going along swimmingly.

Car over at End'o the Road come up with a rather wonderful schedule to follow to make sure the book and Lizzie Bennett Diaries are read and viewed by the end. I've adopted it - no reason to do the hard work when it's already done for you! Thanks Car!

Car's wonderful schedule that I have adopted with love.

I'm up to date on the book, but behind on Lizzie Bennett...

I have also managed to watch the second production of Pride and Prejudice - the one done by the BBC.

I was worried at first - it's 5 hours long - but it was easy to watch and excellent. In fact, it was superior to the movie it just about every way. Jennifer Ehle was a far better Elizabeth, Colin Firth was the perfect Darcy and Julia Sawalha, I think, stole the show as Lydia. My only complaint about the whole thing Mrs Bennett played by Alison Steadman was too shrill, too over the top. I winced every time she spoke.

If you want a comprehensive dramatisation of the the story, take the time to watch the BBC production. It's divided into 6 episodes of about 50 minutes each, so doesn't need to be watched in one sitting. I know I'll be looking to the BBC for any other Jane Austin adaptations.

25 June, 2013

Mamabake: Bobotie

Like a lot of people - I have a busy life. One of the things I struggle most with is getting a decent, relative healthy meal on the table every night. I work part time, my husband full time, my kids lead very active after school lives and where we live requires a ferry ride home every night. All of this adds to up to a lot of nights where you walk in the house later than normal, tired and really not inspired to do anything much.

A couple of years ago, a friend introduced me to the concept of Mamabake. The image below, from the Mamabake website, describes how it works.

Source: http://mamabake.com/about/what-is-mamabake/

We do it slightly differently. Rather than all cooking at one house, we make our meals separately and then come together to divide them up. Divvy up afternoon will usually involve a few drinks, cheese and a lovely social gathering.

So our next Mamabake meet up is next weekend, so today I spent making Bobotie.

According to Wikipedia, Bobotie is a South African dish. If you Google it, you will get a ton of different recipes. However, I came across the one I used while listening to ABC radio's Kelly Higgins Devine one day. She was talking to Suzanne Quintner one day who shared the recipe. I thought it sounded good, gave it a try and immediately decided it was perfect for Mamabake. If you click here, you will come to the original link for the recipe. Or, I've copied it for you below. Despite the seeming large number of ingredients, it's really easy and most people would have the ingredients in their pantry anyway. Four of these will make 6 x four person serves. I made 5 today - one for each Mamabake participant (including myself) plus one for dinner tonight. I usually had one in the oven, one simmering on the stove and one prepped and ready to go. All in all, it most probably took me 4 hours, with the last one waiting on the stove until I'm ready to put it in the oven for dinner. I do highly recommend having group A and group B mixed in the bowl ready to go and the bread soaking.


Group A                              
2tbsp curry powder
2tbsp ginger
2tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp turmeric
3 tsp salt
2 tsp cracked pepper
Mix together in a bowl

Group B
100g raisins
4 tbsp apricot jam
2 tbsp vinegar
4 tbsp chutney
2 tbsp W/shire sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste
Mix together in a bowl

Other Ingredients
1 kg mince
Butter and oil
2 medium onions
4-6 thick slices bread, crust removed - soaked in one and a half cups of milk
1 tbsp tumeric
3 eggs
Fresh bay leaves

Use a heavy-based saucepan and let it get very warm. Add the ingredients of Group A and stirfry. CAREFUL NOT TO BURN!
Add 4 tbsps butter mixed with the oil, and when warm, add onions. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add Group B.
Add meat and bread (press out all the milk from the bread first and keep separate). Simmer covered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the bread and meat is cooked through. Pour into a greased baking dish.
Beat milk with the eggs and turmeric and pour over the mixture. Place the bay leaves evenly in the custard.
Bake at 180o C for 45 minutes or until egg custard is set.

22 June, 2013

Bloggers Boogie - The Whitlams version

Little White Dove

Last night, my husband and I abandoned our children to a most competent baby sitter and trundled off into Brisbane to see The Whitlams live with a full symphony orchestra.

The Whitlams are a absolutely fantabulous Australian band fronted by Tim Freedman whose voice is gorgeous. 

It was, to say the least - spectacular. So today a selection of Whitlams songs they sang last night. As much as I can I'll try and post live versions with orchestra as well.

Blow up the Pokies with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra

Thank you live at the Metro in Sydney

You Sound Like Louis Burdett - most probably my favourite Whitlams song

Gough live at the Basement - Gough Whiltlam was Australia's 21st Prime Minister and the man the band is named for.

No Aphrodisiac with Sydney Symphony Orchestra - their first big hit.

I really wanted to put these next two songs in as well, but bloody blogger wouldn't find them for me, so you'll just have to click on the links!

Charlie No 1 with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra - this is truly beautiful - well worth the click.

Want to boogie too? Pick a theme, pick five or so songs and head over to Little White Dove to link up! 

20 June, 2013

Guest review: The Children's Doctors Special Proposal

Today I bring you the first of three guest reviews that resulted from the book I read to meet the romance part of my 13 in '13 challenge. (hosted by Miss Dove herself!)

The challenge was then thrown down to Miss Dove, Miss Car and Miss Kirsty* to read one of the three books I had managed to avoid.

*Kirsty doesn't blog, but the link goes to a wonderful article she wrote for Mamamia.

Today, is Miss Dove's review of:

So over to you Miss Dove!

There’s nothing quite like the excitement of an unexpected parcel waiting in the mailbox. A quick check of the back revealed it was from Kylie, who had mentioned a week or so prior that she had a parcel for both Car and myself. A tempting little book shaped box. Maybe something to do with our Pride and Prejudice challenge perhaps? Whipping it open with the aid of some scissors, I saw some Ferrero Rochers and a little box of Guylian, framing a note. Awww, thought I, she’s sent some loving to the sweet-tooth pregnant woman. HA. Ha de ha ha ha. While I’m there drooling over the choccies and gushing about the fabulous taste in friends I seem to have, the evil Miss Kylie is busy twirling her moustache. Lifting up the note, I honest to goodness burst out laughing. This was no “you’re a sweetie” care package. This was the Little Care Package of Horrors.

I laughed for a good five minutes, and knew I’d brought this on myself. A while back, Kylie had asked if a certain book counted as romance, and while I agreed it would, I also suggested I would pay good money to see her read and review a Mills and Boon on the blog. And look where that got me – now I’m the proud owner of The Children’s Doctor’s Special Proposal (by Kate Hardy).
A special bride for a special doctor – New consultant paediatrician Rhys Morgan is everything the hospital grapevine promised. He is also Katrina’s boss, but she thinks she’s safe from Rhys’s charms. Until they discover a shared commitment to their little patients – and a heartfelt passion for each other. Rhys has never believed in happy families, yet Katrina opens his eyes to what love and family really means – and her courage and vulnerability create a fierce desire to protect her. Enough, perhaps, to make Rhys risk his heart with the most special proposal of all…
There’s nothing quite like the blurb of a category romance, is there? Anyway. Let’s cut the cheese. Most of these types of books follow a reasonably predictable format. Of course, in this case, we have the enigmatic hero who is anti-social and of unknown relationship status. We have the "faint hint" of an accent, and "an incredibly sensual mouth". Oh and the heroine who has sworn off workplace romances after the last one went bust. We can all see where this is going, right? And of course, what would a first chapter be without the handshake that left both with a strange fission of awareness?

But all joking aside, it was a sweet story, nice and light and fluffy, and missing the angst which seems to be a common inclusion. You know the type. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, hook up, tragic happenstance/misunderstanding drives them apart until the figure out it was just tragic happenstance/misunderstanding, and have epic make-up cuddles. Charmingly, this one missed the OTT drama – not that it was all rainbows and unicorns, but it was nice.

A M&B/category romance is never going to be a cerebral brain teaser that moves the reader to campaign for social betterment. Going in, I knew what to expect, and I got it. A nice light bit of fluff I could knock over in a couple of hours on a Friday night. A bit of escapism, a giggle and chat with some friends, and nothing too taxing on the old noggin after a big day of kid wrangling. While it’s not my first choice of reading matter, it serves its purpose, and I found it quite readable. Three stars.

So there you have it. No where near as scathing as my review of my romance, but still not enough to make me want to read it!
Now I wait with baited breath (as I am sure you all do) for what Miss Car and Miss Kirsty have to say about their romances! 

16 June, 2013

Book Review: Leviathan

From Goodreads:  Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.
Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.
With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

Thoughts: I was looking for a science fiction book for my 13 in '13 challenge and one of the women I work with at the library suggested this. Leviathan is what is classed as Steampunk - a sub genre of science fiction. Steampunk often views the world from a point of what could have happened if our science evolved differently, a world where steam power machinery became our dominant technology.
Leviathan is set in the days prior to World War I. Prince Aleksander is the (fictional) son of Archduke Ferdinand - whisked away by men loyal to his father only hours after his parent's death. He is a "clunker" -  people whose technology is machine based.  
On the other side of the fence are the "Darwinist" those who have merged technology with living beings and have created living machinery. Very cool.
Leviathan is the first book in a trilogy and therefore introduces characters, orientates the reader to the world and sets the scene. At the same time, Westerfeld creates a fantastical, well written story. This alternate world is believable and intriguing. As a young adult book it would be a great way to introduce World War I history - teasing out the truths (Archduke Ferdinand did exist, his assassination was one of the catalysts for WWI) from the fiction (Prince Aleksander did not exist). It's also a wonderful way to play "what if". What if the world had developed a different way - what would be the same, what would change?
I'll definitely be look up the second of these books.

Challenges: 13 in '13

15 June, 2013

Bloggers Boogie: Crushes

Little White Dove

So I realised my boogie last week was very heavily female based - there were some great 80's pop icons. However, the question remains, whose posters did I use to practice my first kisses? (Too much information? Too bad!)So today's Boogie is dedicated to my teenage crushes.

Richard Marx - Should've Known Better.

Boy could he rock a tight pair of jeans!

Gloria - Van Morrison

Pretty much the whole cast of The Outsiders, but especially Matt Dillon who played Dally - I always did love a bad boy. This was also one of my first experiences of a movie not being as good as the book. I love the book - in fact there are still whole passages I can quote.

Kenny Loggins - Footloose

Kevin Bacon in Footloose. That smile, those hips...sigh...

Patrick Swayze - She's Like the Wind.

 I love a good dance movie. As for Patrick Swayze - those arms, oh lord those arms!

Kenny Loggins - Dangerzone

Tom Cruise in Top Gun - before he married our Nicole, went all weird and dumped her!

Want to boogie along? Post your own 5, whatever theme you want and link up over at Little White Dove.

11 June, 2013

Book Review: The Giving Quilt

From Goodreads: At Elm Creek Manor, the week after Thanksgiving is “Quiltsgiving,” a time to commence a season of generosity. From near and far, quilters and aspiring quilters—a librarian, a teacher, a college student, and a quilt-shop clerk among them—gather for a special winter session of quilt camp, to make quilts for Project Linus. (In real life, Chiaverini has long been active in this charitable organization, dedicated to providing handmade quilts and blankets to children in need.)
Each quilter, ever mindful that many of her neighbors, friends, and family members are struggling through difficult times, uses her creative gifts to alleviate their collective burden. As the week unfolds, the quilters respond to Sylvia’s provocative question in ways as varied as the life experiences that drew them to Elm Creek Manor. Love and comfort are sewn into the warm, bright, beautiful quilts they stitch, and their stories collectively consider the strength of human connection and its rich rewards.

Thoughts: There are no surprises with this series - which is a good thing. Every now and then you need a book where you know what you are going to get - familiar characters, happy endings, solid writing. Opening and Elm Creek Quilts novel is like catching up with old friends.
In the Giving Quilt, Chiaverini takes us through the stories of 5 campers who have come to Elm Creek for the annual Quiltgiving - a camp aimed at making quilts for Project Linus. (A real life charity who delivers handmade blankets and quilts to children in need) Each camper has a story to explain what lead them to Elm Creek and each share in the healing qualities of time with like minded people.
One of the things I love about Elm Creek novels is the camaraderie it highlights that comes with quilting. Through quilting I have made wonderful friends who share a passion for fabric, thread and time at you machine! While we now share stories of family, children and work, quilting is what bought us together in the first place. Elm Creek captures that idea of shared passion so well. 

10 June, 2013

Book Review: Monica Bloom

From Goodreads: Matt Sherman is in his final year of school. And he's ready to move onto bigger and better things. But from the moment he hears her voice over the fence, Matt knows he has to meet his neighbours' cousin, Monica Bloom. She's just flown in from Dublin ready for the start of school, but not at all ready, it turns out, for what the year holds.

Things slip out of control when Matt's dad is embroiled in a scandal at work that makes news headlines. Meanwhile, Monica Bloom finds trouble of her own, and Matt finds that he can't stop thinking about her.

Thoughts: Another quality read from Nick Earls.I don't know exactly what it is about Earls that makes him able to take me back to when I was a teenager and dealing with all the (as far you are concerned)life and death matters of that age. I read his young adult fiction and think "Oh God, yes, I remember those first torturous conversations with the boy I liked!"
 Where Earls shone in this book though was his handling of the way Matt reacted to what was happening with his dad. He was aware of it, knew very well that it had long term consequences, but his focus was still on Monica Bloom. I know as a teen whenever there was upheaval in our family, I was aware of it, but it was out of my control - very little I did or could do would change it. In the end, you rode it out, maybe tried to be a little more helpful, a little more considerate, but in the end it was still you and your issues that dominated your time and thoughts. I thought Earls portrayed this beautifully. As always his teen characters are realistic, believable and you just want to help them! Me personally, I wanted to take Monica Bloom home and look after her.
This book also gave me a reminder of how different life is now. While never stated, the music mentioned in the book suggests late 70's early 80's. A time when the worst thing smuggled into a high school disco was alcohol. No iphones, no internet, no Facebook. Harder in many ways, but a lot simpler in others. 

Challenges:  Aussie Author

08 June, 2013

Book Review: The Sheikh's Love-Child

From Goodreads: With butterflies fluttering in her stomach, Lucy Banks has arrived in the desert kingdom of Biryal--with a secret Seeing Sheikh Khaled--the man who once loved and left her--in his sumptuous royal palace, Lucy is blown away by his barbaric magnificence: he's king of the desert and his eyes are blacker and harder than before. He's not the man she once knew. She wants to run away from his overwhelming masculinity, but they're inextricably bound forever...for he is the father of her son.

Thoughts: So it was with much trepidation I approached this book - and I'd love to say I was proven wrong. That all the things I had thought about this genre of books was unfair, that I had misjudged. However, I can't. It was everything I feared - stereotypical, clich├ęd, trite, bland. Worse than all of that, it worries me that in the wrong hands, this book could be dangerous.
The main character Lucy was pathetic. Presumably a smart woman who is a successful physiotherapist, but is completely unable to foresee the consequences of telling the single, childless prince of a fictional Arab island that he has a son. Really? Never even considered what would happen if he wanted access? She then proceeds to allow him to bully and threaten her into giving access. 

I think you'll find I have far more resources than you to see I am granted custody. 
Add to that, she then allowed him to order her around like his possession, demanding she return to his home with the child, assuming it would happen. But that's all OK because she loves him and really it's best for the child!
As for Khaled, the prince - major god complex. Supreme being and ruler who not only expects but insists everyone bends to his rule, his desire. Just as well they do, would hate to imagine the tantrum if they didn't! Any time Lucy dares contradict him, challenge him, she is labeled willful and difficult. Apparently it's totally acceptable to tell the world's media that you are marrying someone before you even ask her. It's also ok to react as if this is not incredibly rude, disrespectful and wrong...am I missing something here??
Look, I don't mind a light read, a bit of romance, but there is so much better stuff our there - Marian Keyes for a start. Stuff that does not portray women as being somehow lost without a man and unable to discern the difference between a man who respects and loves her and one who just wants to control and own her. This is not romance, this is simply wrong.
It does worry me that other women are the ones writing these characters. That they think a woman who fell pregnant to a man during a two month relationship, a man who then left with no explanation, no way to contact him, raised the child alone for 3 years and was then totally dominated by the said man so easily, gave into his demands with barely a fight, is a woman that female readers will identify with. These authors seem unable to provide their peers with women who demand to be treated with respect, who cannot see their way past a hot body and smoldering eyes. And while calling it dangerous may seem a bit melodramatic, I do believe that in 2013 it is completely unnecessary and insulting.

As some of you would realise, this book was read as part of a challenge. Discussions on Facebook about which book I would read, led to me challenging one of my friends to read Contracted: Corporate Wife. In her voting comment, (scroll to the bottom of the comments to read Kirsty's) she described how she thought the plot would go. I figured she could read it to find out. As these things go, I then roped in another two girls to read the last two books. While it all started out as a bit of fun, I now really want them to read the books to find out if my assumptions made in review hold for all three or if it's just the crappy one I got stuck with. I cannot and will not read another so I am now relying on Kirsty, Miss Dove and Miss Car to do my research for me! Their prize - champagne...and me to drink it with! And as Kirsty at least knows from experience, I don't drink crappy champagne!

Cheers, girls!

Blogger's Boogie - Teeny Bopper

Little White Dove

Last week, the gorgeous, but obviously young Miss Dove, only recognised one of my songs! And then she confessed to a teenage love of Britney Spears. Which got me thinking about my teeny bopper loves in the 80's, so here is my (embarrassing) 80's style teeny bopper Blogger's Boogie.

Tiffany - I Think We're Alone Now. 
I'm sure 80's was dominated by the first name only pop singers. I thought Tiffany was the coolest thing EVA!

Debbie Gibson - Electric Youth
I had a hat just like hers...and a waist coat...I never looked that cool though!

Mel & Kim - Respectable
Again with the hats. This one reminds me of my 16th...

Kylie - Locomotion.
It has to be the one she did in Aus, not the one she did with Stock, Aitken and Waterman. I still love a good bit of Kylie.

Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Wanna have Fun.
This was my version of rebelling - pathetic I know!

Well, that's a boogie that shows my age! Want to boogie as well? This week's boogie is being guest hosted over at Carrose Creations. Head over and link up!

07 June, 2013

Book Review: Wool

From Goodreads: In a ruined and toxic landscape, a community exists in a giant silo underground, hundreds of stories deep. There, men and women live in a society full of regulations they believe are meant to protect them. Sheriff Holston, who has unwaveringly upheld the silo’s rules for years, unexpectedly breaks the greatest taboo of all: He asks to go outside. His fateful decision unleashes a drastic series of events. An unlikely candidate is appointed to replace him: Juliette, a mechanic with no training in law, whose special knack is fixing machines. Now Juliette is about to be entrusted with fixing her silo, and she will soon learn just how badly her world is broken. The silo is about to confront what its history has only hinted about and its inhabitants have never dared to whisper. Uprising.

Thoughts: This was originally written as 5 novellas/ short stories before being released as an omnibus. If you are buying it on Kindle, make sure you buy the omnibus or you will end up having to buy all 5 separately. 
If you're looking for a well written, original, adult dystopian novel - you've found it. Wool starts with an ember that you can see glowing hotter and hotter until it explodes. But the build up is not slow and torturous - it's engaging and intriguing. You know something is not right, but you're not sure what. Howey builds pressure, feeding the reader bits of information, unsettling them, never letting them get completely comfortable in the world of the silo. And when the explosion happens, the pressure is released, but only temporarily. A whole new pressure starts to build. As in real life, things don't go to plan and the reader is still uncertain as to what the true secrets are. In the end, Wool is a phenomenal book. Apparently there is another two in the series, with the second Shift out now. Again, released in short stories first, I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the Omnibus edition.

Chanllenges: ebook Challenge 

01 June, 2013

Bloggers Boogie: Intimo style!

Another Saturday, another boogie! Tomorrow I'm having an Intimo party. A chance to get the girls together and have a look as some pretty lingerie and even buy some! They also do some lovely clothes, so today's boogie is all about clothes!

Want to boogie along? Post your own 5, whatever theme you want and link up over at Little White Dove.

Roxette's Dressed for Success

Cake's Short Skirt, Long Jacket

The Hollies' Long Cool Woman (in a black dress)

John Mayer's version of Raspberry Beret. I could not find the original by Prince! This was the best cover there was - there are a lot of bad covers out there!

Madonna's Dress You Up. Oh the memories of putting this on the record player (yes, I'm that old) and running to the top of the stairs to do the walk down! I use to be able to do the whole dance using a hairbrush as a mic!