Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Milkbar Memories by Jane Lawson

 As well as reading fiction, I collect cookbooks. My oldest books are older than I am, and I add to my collection every chance I get. At last count I had somewhere over 70.

I'm going to review some of them on here from time to time. Here's the first.

Title: Milkbar Memories
Author: Jane Lawson
Publisher: Murdoch Books
Year of Publication: 2016
Source: Purchased by reviewer


I had a flick through this book in the book store and knew I had to buy it. It has recipes for musk sticks and marshmallow and fizzy sherbert, milkshake and drink recipes and hot food like burgers and even quiche.

Milkbars are different throughout Australia. Here in Victoria, certainly in my memory, they were corner stores that had a sweet counter, an ice cream freezer and a drinks fridge, with a few other essentials. You'd go to buy milk and the paper and come home with a bag full of lollies.

In other parts of Australia (and maybe here, before my time) they also served hot food and cold drinks.

Milkbar Memories evokes nostalgia for a time when one dollar could get you enough lollies and hot chips to feed all of your friends and make you the most popular kid in school, for the day, at least.

The photos in the book are beautiful, and the recipes are clear and easy to follow with lots of variations included.

If you grew up with milkshakes and one cent sweets and burgers from the chip shop, then you'll love this book.

Recipe trial:

I've been dying to try some of the sweet recipes in the book, but today my kids wanted potato cakes for lunch. This is something I make occasionally, but I'm always up for a new batter recipe, so I thought I'd give the one in this book a go. The recipe in the book was for the NSW style potato scallop, which requires a thicker slice of potato (like you'd find in the UK Midlands) that you precook before coating in batter. We prefer the thinner style, so I cut the potatoes to around 3mm thick on my mandolin slicer (my slicer of choice is the Tupperware Mandochef).

The batter came together really well, it was only flour, baking powder and iced soda water (we made it ourselves using a SodaStream) with a bit of salt. It provided a thin and pretty even coating that bubbled and crisped well.

I cooked them in a deep fryer with sunflower oil, for around 5 minutes per batch.

I was a bit enthusiastic with the potatoes and we ended up with far too many potato cakes, so I took them into my husband's work where they disappeared within minutes. They've requested more tomorrow, but since my kitchen now smells like a fish shop, I've said no.

Want to see more recipe book reviews? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Kids Blurb Books - It Looks Like This

It Looks Like This by Rafi Mittlefehldt

J - age 9

I think this book is about someone who's always trying to show people things and they say, "It looks like this." It's a novel, and the person says, "It looks like this."

I - age 5

Like somebody who is like walking down the street and then like they go to school and there's loads of loads of floating candy in the air. They try to get it and the teacher says, "That's not how you try to get candy floating, it goes like this."

(There may be some wish fulfilment going on there)

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Kids Blurb Books - Someone I Wanted to Be

This is a new feature where kids tell me what they think a book is about, based on the cover.

Someone I Wanted to Be by Aurelia Wills

J - age 9

This book is about someone who wanted to be someone really famous and then, like, they had to teach them how to be it, and people are, like, "You can't be them, you have to be yourself," and the person they wanted to be taught them how to be that person and then when they left, the person who wanted to be them got used to being unique and started to be anyone they wanted to be.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Review - The Price of Magic by KJ Taylor

Title: The Price of Magic
Author: KJ Taylor
Publisher: Black Phoenix Publishing Collective
Date of Publication: December 3rd 2016
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher


“You are here because you were born different. Born with a gift ... and a curse.”

Heroes come in all shapes. Upright, manly, sword-wielding…. Or small and weedy with walking sticks. Unless you look hard enough, you might miss these ones. Pip’s on a journey to find out just what he can do—in magic and in life. Big things are expected of him. . And he’s about to be tested Can he deliver?

This new Young Adult work by acclaimed Australian author KJ Taylor is a stand-alone novella about confronting our challenges and celebrating our differences. Meet Pip and Seress, Ana and Clemence, Jinx and Hex, and follow their quest to find and stop the mad mage who is threatening magic's very existence. KJ Taylor asks us to think about the choices we make, and the price that we pay for them. For anyone who’s ever been intimidated by those around them, here's a heart-warming story of one boy who isn’t content to be defined by others.


Pip, short for Pipsqueak, has been small and weak his whole life, but in his world, a child born with a disability can be a source for celebration. Pip is a mage, and as with all mages, he has both a Gift, and a Price. When Pip leaves his small village and heads for the Mage's Institute at age 15, he is excited about the possibilities before him. When he and his Master are sent on a quest to bring in a rogue Mage, he faces the possibility of living without his Price, but without his disability, would he be himself at all?

This novella looks at disability in a completely different light. While it is undoubtedly a burden for those who are affected in Pip's world, it is simply the cost paid for power, and it is not possible to have magic without having a price. For some, like Pip, it's physical limitations, for some, mental illness or neurological disorders, for others, chronic and potentially terminal illness. But rather than focusing on characters' difficulties, it focuses on their strengths and the way they overcome their limitations to save the world.

I liked the magic system and the idea that power is not just granted on its own, but comes with a price. It makes it all the more valuable that it's not freely given.

This charming novella is worth reading and would perhaps appeal to a younger YA audience, but some readers may be offended by some of the terms used in the book (specific terms that I noticed - dwarf, cripple, nuts - your mileage may vary here).

And I totally want a furniture tree.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Kids Blurb Books - Phantom Limbs

This is a new feature where kids look at the covers of books and tell me what they think it's about.

Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner

J - age 9

It's about a person who has magical limbs and they take risks. They're very exquisite. In the story I think this person gets magical limbs, but only in her sleep, and everyone she's loved that doesn't love her anymore gets spooked by the limbs.