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Breakfast at Twenty 8 Acres, Sydney

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. It is an easy meal for a vegetarian, yet there is plenty for the meat lover too.

During our recent trip to Sydney, we checked Trip Adviser while flying over (Air New Zealand has a cool in-flight app) and came across a cafe called Twenty 8 Acres. They specialized in breakfast and lunch, and we decided to try them out since the reviews were excellent.

When we arrived, the restaurant was packed—a good sign. We waited ten minutes before securing a table. The owner/cook is Irish and the breakfast menu had an Irish flavor.

Mr Munro went straight for the full Irish Breakfast while I decided to try the Botanist and we ordered a pot of Irish Breakfast tea. The owner, with his Irish accent, was charming and efficient, a trait possessed by the rest of the wait staff. The service was excellent.

The meals were delicious. Mr Munro enjoyed his breakfast of black and white pudding, sausages, eggs, beans, potatoes and toast immensely. Mine, which was greens with poached eggs, avocado and toast, was enjoyable but there was a bit much kale for my liking. I hadn’t tried kale before, despite its current popularity, and to be honest, it’s not a vegetable I’ll ever want to have on a desert island!

Irish Breakfast

Hubby’s Irish Breakfast

Irish Breakfast Happy Hubby

A happy hubby.

Botanic Breakfast

My The Botanist breakfast with eggs, greens, avocado and seeds.

I’d be happy to visit Twenty 8 Acres again, but I’d try something else on the menu since I’m not a kale fan. Other offerings include fruit and cereal, eggs done in numerous ways. The full menu is here.

The seating area isn’t large, so I’d suggest going early, since Twenty 8 Acres is very popular with the locals for breakfast. They also do lunch. The rating on Trip Adviser is well-deserved, and I certainly recommend this restaurant.

What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?

Review: First Touch by Laurelin Paige #review

first touch cover

Laurelin Paige is a new-to-me author, and I enjoyed this book very much.

Blurb:

When Emily Wayborn goes home to visit her mom while on hiatus from her hit TV show, she receives a voicemail from her former best friend, Amber. Though the two were once notorious party girls, they haven’t spoken in years. Although the message might sound benign to anyone else, Amber uses a safe word that Emily recognizes, a word they always used to get out of sticky situations during their wild days. And what’s more chilling than the voicemail: it turns out that Amber has gone missing.

Determined to track down her friend, Emily follows a chain of clues that lead her to the enigmatic billionaire Reeve Sallis, a hotelier known for his shady dealings and play boy reputation. Now, in order to find Amber, Emily must seduce Reeve to learn his secrets and discover the whereabouts of her friend. But as she finds herself more entangled with him, she finds she’s drawn to Reeve for more than just his connection to Amber, despite her growing fear that he may be the enemy. When she’s forced to choose where her loyalty lies, how will she decide between saving Amber and saving her heart?

Review:

Emily Wayborn teamed up with her friend Amber when she was a teenager. Together, they sold their company and their bodies in exchange for somewhere to live and other material possessions. Then, one day, everything changed. Six years later, Emily receives a phone call from Amber, one in which Amber utters their secret code word that means she’s in danger and requires help. Thus starts Emily’s journey into the world of wealthy hotelier and mystery man Reeve Sallis as she searches for her missing friend.

Things I enjoyed about this book:

1. The main characters, Emily and Reeve. Emily is a multi-layered character with a definite dark side while the reader is never really sure about Reeve. We’re kept guessing. Is he a sexy, bad boy or is he a sinister murderer?

2. The author peels back the layers of the plot with a delicate touch, making it a real page turner.

3. The element of danger. As I mentioned, because this book is first person, we never know exactly what is going on with Reeve. He’s a real mystery man and he has dark and alpha tendencies.

4. The author is an excellent writer with an enticing style and voice. She pours on the emotion.

Things that gave me pause:

1. A couple of the love scenes were very dark and hard to read, although I will point out that they worked within the context of the story.

2. The ending. It really sucked for me and the cliff-hanger left me thinking, what? Now I don’t know anything more than I did when I started reading. While it’s obvious that this story will continue, the ending left me frustrated.

When it came to weighing up the story as a whole, I decided on 4 stars. If the ending had have been different, the rating would have been higher. Still, if you’re a fan of contemporaries with a darker edge, and you don’t mind a cliff-hanger, give this one a try. It’s an intriguing page-turner.

Review copy received via Netgalley.

Purchase: Amazon | Kobo | iBooks |

Review: Hard to Forget by Bella Jewel

I enjoyed the first two books in Bella Jewel’s loosely connected series, Alpha’s Heart. Hard to Fight and Hard to Break were both great books, so I was excited to read Hard to Forget, the final book in the series.

HardToForget200x300

HARD TO FORGET

An Alpha’s Heart Novel, #3

By Bella Jewel

St. Martin’s Paperbacks

On Sale: December 15, 2015

eBook only

$3.99 USD

Goodreads

About The Book

The third book in the sexy Alpha’s Heart series by USA Today bestseller Bella Jewel.

Delaney, a professional bodyguard, has spent years trying to prove herself in a male dominated industry.  Now she’s facing her greatest challenge yet. 

Bad boy billionaire Jax Shields has made plenty of enemies on his climb to the top, but being in the wrong place at the wrong time has put his life at risk. Now he’s putting his life in the hands of Delaney and her team. He demands the best in everything, and he doesn’t think she has what it takes to protect him. He’s also made it clear he’d rather have her on her back then covering his. Will Delaney be able to prove herself to the most arrogant-and devastatingly handsome-man she’s ever met?

Review

Delaney wanted to be in the military but bad eyesight means she needs to think of an alternative occupation. Her second choice is to become a bodyguard and she gives her all to become a fully-fledged bodyguard. She works for Thorpe Security, and her boss says she must get the better of him or a senior bodyguard before she can do a job on her own. Delaney is determined to get there, and when she finally does, she’s thrilled, but she hadn’t counted on falling for the man she’s paid to guard or that he might not want a woman guarding his body.

This book is written in first person

Things I liked about this book:

1. Ms. Jewel always writes heroines with unusual occupations, and this book is no exception. It’s a fun read watching Delaney go after her dreams in the male dominated bodyguard field.

2. It’s a page-turner. This was a book that kept me turning the pages in order to learn what happened next. It’s easy and pleasurable reading.

3. The hero, Jax. An alpha hottie with an attitude to match. I hearted him.

Things that didn’t work quite as well for me:

1. There were a few things that happened in the plot that made me think “Really?” Some of the plot edges toward over the top. That said, they didn’t bother me enough to stop reading.

Ms. Jewel takes an unusual occupation for the heroine and makes it work. A fun, sexy read with likeable characters and a suspense element. Recommended.

Note: review copy received via NetGalley.

About The Author

Bella Jewel is a USA Today bestselling author. She lives in North Queensland where she’s working on her next novel.

Social Links

Author Website | Goodreads | Facebook | SMP Romance

Buy Links  Amazon | iBooks | B&N | Kobo |

Review: Flowers From the Storm by Laura Kinsale

Flowers From The StormI read Flowers from the Storm many years ago and loved it. This year, I noticed there was an audio version, and I grabbed a copy. I wanted to see if the story had stood the test of time and was as good as I remembered. It was narrated by Nicholas Boulton.

Here is the blurb:

The Duke of Jervaulx was brilliant – and dangerous. Considered dissolute, reckless, and extravagant, he was transparently referred to as the "D of J" in scandal sheets. But sometimes the most womanizing rakehell can be irresistible, and even his most causal attentions fascinated the sheltered Maddy Timms.

Then one fateful day she receives the shocking news – the duke is lost to the world. And Maddy knows it is her destiny to help him and her only chance to find the true man behind the wicked facade.

But she never dreamed her gentle, healing touch would alter his life and her own so completely – and bind them together in need, desire…and love.

Review:

The Duke of Jervaulx is a scoundrel. Quaker, Maddy Timms knows this, yet the man still fascinates her. Christian, the duke is suffering from headaches, and when he’s called out by an enraged husband, he collapses. In truth, he has suffered a cerebral haemorrhage. The doctors and his relatives think he is a lunatic and he is sent to an asylum. The asylum, an old country estate, is run by Maddy Timms’s Uncle Edward, and she is astonished to discover the duke is a patient. Most people think he is dead.

The duke is confused and finds it difficult to speak and communicate. He’s chained or bound in a straight jacket and despairs of ever getting out of the asylum where his family have sent him. His mother, sisters and brothers-in-law are after his money and property and are willing to have him legally declared a lunatic to seize the prize. Maddy spends time with Christian, nurses him and gradually, she gets him to trust her. He falls in love with her, but Maddy tries to stick to her Quaker faith.

Things I loved about this story:

1. The plot.

There are hundreds of historical romances featuring dukes. Mostly, the heroines are young girls of good families. Flowers from the Storm has a duke. He’s intelligent and enjoys advanced mathematics, he likes hot chocolate and he has a terrible reputation. He’s having an affair with a married woman. Maddy is a Quaker. She speaks with thee and thous, she dresses plainly and believes all are equal. No courtesy titles for her. Everyone is addressed in the same manner. Much of the story takes place in the asylum and the duke is unable to communicate. The plot is so far removed from balls and the London season that it stands out as original.

2. The characters.

The duke is arrogant even though he can’t communicate. He’s in a dangerous position and fears spending the rest of his life in the asylum. His family certainly want him there. Maddy is prim and proper and the contrast between the hero and heroine really works. Watching them fall in love is amazing.

3. The sense of urgency.

Throughout the story, Christian’s family want to take control. Maddy needs to help him prepare to pass the competency hearing. There is a sense of the ticking clock.

4. The narrator.

He was very good and did a great job.

Things I didn’t like quite as much:

1. Maddy’s insistence on sticking to Quaker ways. I think it is hard for the modern reader to understand her insistence on sticking to the plain way of life and her beliefs. Most readers would wonder why she held out for so long and didn’t return the duke’s love. The reader needs to buy into her strong beliefs, I think, and trust that she will do the right thing, no matter what.

Conclusion:

This is a stand-out historical romance and one that deserves all the awards and excellent reviews. The audio version was just as good as the book I read all those years ago. I loved it. Highly recommended.

Authors, Grab a Coffee and Tackle Social Media

Last year, author Amy Denim visited my blog with a post about Business Plans for Writers. It’s an excellent post and I recommend that you check it out. After hosting Amy, I decided to check out some of her other books, and I purchased The Coffee Break Guide to Social Media for Writers: How to Succeed on Social Media and Still Have Time to Write (Coffee Break Guides Book 1).

Coffee-Break-Guide-to-Socia-200x300I read it during my recent holiday, hoping for help, since I’m struggling with social media. There never seems to be enough hours in the day, and I don’t have time to get sucked down an internet hole!

Amy’s book covers all types of social media, some of which I’ve never heard of. It’s easy to understand and set out well. The book starts with an introduction and explains the concept of the coffee break mentality. We take short breaks for coffee in order to relax and recharge before we start our writing session again, and Amy says this is the length of time we should spend on social media – five to ten minutes at a time.

With the swift-moving world of social media, some of the information is slightly out-of-date, but that doesn’t take away from the usefulness of this book. There is a list of resources, an example of a social media plan plus a glossary of social media terms.

This book is perfect for the beginning author who wants to solidify their position. While I’m not new to social media, I found this book very useful and busily bookmarked sections to refer back to at a later time. I’m a convert and intend to put what I’ve learned into practice this year.

Amy has written several other books in her Coffee Break Guide series, and posts useful promotional tips at her website Coffee Break Social Media.

Purchase The Coffee Break Guide to Social Media for Writers: How to Succeed on Social Media and Still Have Time to Write (Coffee Break Guides Book 1)

Other Coffee Break Books:

The Coffee Break Guide to Business Plans for Writers: The Step-by-Step Guide to Taking Control of Your Writing Career (Coffee Break Guides Book 2)

The Coffee Break Guide to Self Publishing: The Step-by-Step Guide to Successfully Writing, Publishing, and Promoting Your Own Books (Coffee Break Guides Book 3)

I recommend The Coffee Break Guide to Social Media and urge you to check out Amy’s post on Business Plans.

Review: A History of Food in 100 Recipes

AHistoryofFood

Back Cover Copy:

A riveting narrative history of food as seen through 100 recipes, from ancient Egyptian bread to modernist cuisine.

We all love to eat, and most people have a favorite ingredient or dish. But how many of us know where our much-loved recipes come from, who invented them, and how they were originally cooked? In A HISTORY OF FOOD IN 100 RECIPES, culinary expert and BBC television personality William Sitwell explores the fascinating history of cuisine from the first cookbook to the first cupcake, from the invention of the sandwich to the rise of food television. A book you can read straight through and also use in the kitchen, A HISTORY OF FOOD IN 100 RECIPES is a perfect gift for any food lover who has ever wondered about the origins of the methods and recipes we now take for granted.

 

Review:

A History of Food in 100 Recipes by William Sitwell

I’m a sucker for any book on the history of food since I love to cook and the origin of the recipes fascinates me.

The recipes in this book range from ancient ones for bread to more modern offerings like Asian salads, Steamed salmon with couscous and Fairy cakes. The earlier recipes are not recipes as we know them, and I wouldn’t recommend trying them even if you could source the ingredients, but they’re interesting none the less. Mr. Sitwell tells us stories of the past and the people who influenced food and wrote recipe books. We learn of the first known use of the recipes, the available equipment, and the interesting social details that give us a clear picture of the past. The book is written in a chatty manner with dry humor. It’s a book meant to be taken in small bites rather than read in one or two long gulps.

I enjoyed reading A History of Food very much and know I will refer to it often. The more modern recipes are ones I will make—in fact I’ve tried a couple already. I found this book interesting and learned lots of things I hadn’t previously known. A History of Food is the perfect book to give to a keen foodie as a birthday, Christmas or surprise gift. Highly recommended.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase A History of Food in 100 Recipes

Review: Knit Your Socks on Straight by Alice Curtis

Straight Socks cover

Back Cover:

Not interested in knitting in the round? Wary of double-pointed needles? Now you can knit comfortable, attractive socks on straight needles. Alice Curtis shows you the secret to straight-needle sock knitting with her elegant technique for turning the necessary seam into an appealing design element.

Step-by-step instructions and photographs introduce the stitches and explain how to make a beautiful seam. Twenty unique patterns feature a variety of yarn weights and motifs and include instructions for a range of sizes.

Review:

This book contains instructions for making socks on straight knitting needles—an innovative idea for sure! There’s the basic sock pattern plus nineteen others for keen knitters. I was thrilled with the way this book is set out in a clear and concise manner with little tips and troubleshooting throughout. Details of gauge and pattern notes are shown with each pattern. The photographs illustrating the socks and the different methods used in the making of each pair of socks are beautiful and enticing.

The socks come in different sizes, which is a bonus for me with my big feet!

This book made me want to start knitting immediately. The patterns are suitable for immediate to advanced knitters. Knit Your Socks on Straight would make a great addition to the library of keen knitters and an excellent gift for the knitter in your family. Highly recommended.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Knit Your Socks on Straight

Review: Storm Force by Susannah Sandlin

Storm ForceStorm Force

Omega Force #1

Susannah Sandlin

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Date of Publication: March 19, 2013, in serial form for Kindle; July 9, 2013, in print, digital, and audio.

ISBN: 978-1477807576

Word Count: approx. 90,000

Amazon

Book Description:

As leader of the elite counter-terrorism team Omega Force, former army ranger Jack “Kell” Kellison is always focused on getting the job done. So when a Houston high-rise is bombed and the governor killed or missing, Kell’s mission is clear: infiltrate the group suspected of the bombing and neutralize the threat by any means necessary. But once Kell meets beautiful chief suspect Mori Chastaine, he realizes there’s more to this case than meets the eye. And more to Mori than any man—any human man—could imagine.

Mori Chastaine is running out of options. Suspected for a crime she didn’t commit, forced into a marriage she doesn’t want, she sees no escape—until Kell walks through her door. A lifetime hiding her true nature warns her Kell might not be who he seems. But he could be the only one able to help save more innocent humans from becoming pawns in an ancient paranormal power play. If Mori reveals her secret, will Kell join her fight? Or will she become his next target?

Review – Storm Force by Susannah Sandlin

Storm Force is episode one of a serial.

A terrorist attack starts Kell and his paranormal team, Omega Force, on a new assignment. He’s new to the job and new to the reality of shifters inhabiting the world along with humans. The team members are feeling their way and gradually growing into a cohesive force. Mori Chastaine is part of an environmental action group who are suspected of the terrorist attack. Kell arrives to join the group and hopefully learn the truth from the inside. Meanwhile the FBI arrest Mori.

This first episode introduces us to a lot of characters, both human and paranormal, plus the aftermath of the terrorist attack. There’s a lot happening in a short time. The last chapter really shook things up, raising my curiosity. I ended the serial thinking, “What????” so the author did her job well. She’s made me ponder what happens next. How will Omega Force handle the situation? What happens to Mori, to Kell? I’m presuming that there might be a romantic connection between Mori and Kell, but so far it’s not hinted at. I’d definitely like to read the next episode.

This serial was provided by the author in exchange for a honest review.

clip_image004_thumbAbout the Author:

Susannah Sandlin is the author of paranormal romance set in the Deep South, where there are always things that go bump in the night. A journalist by day, Susannah grew up in Alabama reading the gothic novels of Susan Howatch and the horror fantasy of Stephen King. (Um…it is fantasy, right?) The combination of Howatch and King probably explains a lot. Currently a resident of Auburn, Alabama, Susannah has also lived in Illinois, Texas, California, and Louisiana.

Website: http://www.susannahsandlin.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/susannahsandlin

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/susannahsandlin

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5828129.Susannah_Sandlin

Indie Bound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781612183541

New Episode Release Schedule for Storm Force

March 19–episode 1

March 26–episode 2

April 2–episode 3

April 9–episode 4

April 16–episode 5

April 23–episode 6

April 30–episode 7

May 7–episode 8

May 14–episode 9

The release date for the complete book is July 9.

Recipe Review: Fix-It and Forget-It Vegetable Soups, Stews and Chilis by Phyllis Pellman Good

Fix It and Forget It Vegetarian Soups, Stews and Chilis

Today I’m reviewing a vegetarian cook book.

Blurb:

Fifty scrumptious and savory soup recipes for any season

These time-tested, easy-to-manage recipes for soups of all flavors have one thing in common: loads of healthy vegetables. Whether you’re looking for a hearty supper or a light weekday lunch, Fix-It and Forget-It Vegetarian Soups offers delicious choices to make in your slow cooker or on your stovetop, such as:

Vegan Chili·      Corn Chowder·      Homemade Vegetable Soup·      Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup

And much more!

Review:

As the title suggests, this book contains a collection of vegetarian recipes for soups, stews and chilis. The recipes are from home cooks and most of them are perfect to cook in a crockpot/slow cooker.

What I liked about this book:

1. The recipes give an indication of preparation and cooking times.

2. The ingredients were all things I’d find in my fridge or pantry.

3. As a New Zealander I often find American recipes use measurements that I need to convert. This book is easy to follow with no maths required. Measurements used are cups and spoons.

4. The recipes were appealing. I’d be happy to try most of them, and they weren’t overly complicated.

5. They’re mostly recipes that can be made ahead and are perfect for busy cooks.

6. It’s a vegetarian cook book!

What I didn’t like about this book:

1. The title suggests that there are soups, stews and chilli recipes. While this is true, the majority of the recipes are for soup with only about four chilli recipes and one or two stews.

2. Not every recipe has a photo to go with it. I think that most cooks like a photo so that they can compare their final dish with the one in the recipe book. At least that’s what I do when I’m cooking. I like to think that my dish turns out just like the one in the book.

Conclusion:

This is a handy and inexpensive book to have in your cooking library. It would be a great gift for a busy parent or maybe a student who flats and doesn’t have much time to make nutritious dishes. It would also be excellent for a beginner cook since the instructions are clear and concise.

Received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Fix-It and Forget-it Vegetable Soups, Stews and Chilis

Review – Hero of My Heart by Megan Frampton

Hero of My Heart

In this emotional and powerfully erotic tale of love and redemption, a tender vicar’s daughter and a tortured war hero discover that sin may be their only salvation.

When Mary Smith’s corrupt, debt-ridden brother drags her to a seedy pub to sell her virtue to the highest bidder, Alasdair Thornham leaps to the rescue. Of course the marquess is far from perfect husband material. Although he is exceedingly handsome, with a perfect, strong body, chiseled jaw, and piercing green eyes, Alasdair is also too fond of opium, preferring delirium to reality. Still, he has come to Mary’s aid, and now she intends to return the favor. She will show him that he is not evil, just troubled.

Review:

Alasdair Thornham is a good man, but he’s addicted to opium. He finds himself in a pub where an auction is taking place. Mary Smith’s brother is selling off his virginal sister in order to earn money to pay his debts. Alasdair realizes something is wrong with the woman, suspects the use of drugs, and decides to act. He buys her, and thus starts an adventure that changes both of their lives. At first Mary fights the situation, but Alasdair decides they should travel to Scotland and get married.

Both Mary and Alasdair are great characters. Alasdair, in particular, is interesting and not your typical hero. He’s addicted to drugs, and although he doesn’t care about himself, he tries to do the right thing for Mary and to protect her with his name. Once she is safe, he’s determined to complete his downward spiral into drugs and oblivion. Mary will be his last good deed. Meanwhile, Mary hopes to go to London to find her missing mother—she’s recently discovered her mother is still alive and that her parents weren’t married—then she intends to disappear and leave her husband to his insanity. Both main characters have solid goals and set about trying to make them happen. But the stakes change when they make love. Gradually, their feelings for each other shift, and it was wonderful to watch.

The secondary characters—Mary’s brother and Alasdair’s cousin—are both determined to stop the marriage. They’re both motivated by greed and money, and make suitable villains, forcing our hero and heroine to take action.

Hero of My Heart is an unusual historical because it takes place away from the social scene of London. The hero and heroine attempt to steal in order to get what they need, and suffer the consequences when things go wrong. I liked the unexpectedness of this story, and enjoyed the closure at the end. An unusual and satisfying read that takes the reader on an emotional journey while two people learn what they want isn’t exactly what they need. Recommended.

ARC received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Hero of My Heart is out on 8 April 2013

Amazon  Barnes & Noble



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