Category Archives: Holiday

Our favourite children’s books on the market

Ahh… children’s books. We love their ability to share big ideas in fun, engaging ways; tell tales of mischief, feelings and friendship; bring characters to life through unexpected adventures; delight budding imaginations and inspire little people to become life-long readers. 

We have scoured the internet to find six of the most delightful and heart-warming children’s books that we know you are going to love reading these school holidays. 

Oli and Basil: The Dashing Frogs of Travel by Megan Hess 

Meet Oli and Basil, the dashing frogs of travel, in Megan Hess’s first World of Claris story! Two frogs dream of flying, but don’t realise that they’ll need each other to take to the skies. Oli is an artist who dreams up wild, fabulous machines, but he doesn’t know how to build them. And Basil is a master craftsman who can build anything from scratch, except he doesn’t know what to build. If only there was a way that these two dashing frogs could become friends. From the beloved creator of the Claris stories comes this heart-warming adventure about the joys of newfound friendship. You can see Megan’s other books here.

Malala Yousafzai (Little People, Big Dreams) by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara 

When Malala was born in Mingora, Pakistan, her father was determined she would have every opportunity that a boy would have. She loved getting an education, but when a hateful regime came to power, girls were no longer allowed to go to school. Malala spoke out in public about this, which made her a target for violence. She was shot in the left side of her head and woke up in hospital in England. Finally after long months and many surgeries, Malala recovered, and resolved to become an activist for girls’ education. Now a recent Oxford graduate, Malala continues to fight for a world where all girls can learn and lead. This powerful book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the activist’s life. You can read Malala’s own story here.

Bedtime is Boring by David Campbell 

Billy Bunny REALLY doesn’t want to go to bed. He’s NOT tired! Not even a little bit. It may be bedtime, but Billy is NOT going quietly… See if Billy wins the bedtime battle in this hilarious sequel to Stupid Carrots, written by (a quite tired) David Campbell.

Maybe…by Chris Haughton 

Chris Haughton is a fan favourite in our household. Maybe is another funny, suspenseful and keenly observed cautionary tale about pushing boundaries and indulging your more mischievous, cheeky side (when nobody is looking). Three little monkeys, and their big monkey, are sat high up on their branch in the forest canopy. “Ok, monkeys! I’m off,” says the big monkey. “Now remember. Whatever you do, do NOT go down to the mango tree. There are tigers down there.” Mmm . mangos! think the little monkeys. They LOVE mangos. Hmm … maybe . maybe they could just look at the mangos? That’d be ok, right? You can see Chris’ other books here.

With a Little Kelp from Our Friends: The Secret Life of Seaweed by Mathew Bate 

Did you know that feeding seaweed to cows can reduce the methane in their burps and farts by more than half? Or that a forest of kelp absorbs more carbon than a tropical rainforest of the same size? We can even make edible bioplastics from seaweed! Beyond the tideline, there are around 10,000 types of seaweed. An essential ingredient for life on Earth, seaweed has sustained animals and people for many thousands of years. From ancient history and mythology to modern uses in food, health and medicine, discover how seriously cool seaweed is, and how it can even help tackle climate change. Complete with a guide to common seaweeds and foraging guidelines, this charmingly illustrated picture book will educate and inspire, and encourage respect for the natural world.

Reggie Red by Josie Layton 

With freckles and curls so big and so red, Reggie felt worried…’Just look at my head! Others have hair that is brown, blonde and flat, How can I make MY hair look like that?’ Reggie Red tells the story of a little girl who discovers that beauty is far more than what you see on the outside.

Enjoy!

Books are better than chocolate (though sometimes it could be a tie) – Here are six of the best chocolate books on the market

It is that time of year when eating chocolate and buttery buns for breakfast is not only acceptable, but expected. So we are jumping on board the chocolate bandwagon and have rustled up six fabulous chocolatey cookbooks that will definitely give you a much needed sugar hit this easter. So pop the kettle on, make yourself a tasty cup of tea and why not heat up an eastery bun while you’re at it. 

The Ultimate Book of Chocolate by Melanie Dupuis

In The Ultimate Book of Chocolate trained pastry chef Melanie Dupuis will teach you how to make your chocolate dreams become a reality. Learn how to temper, mould and decorate like a pro with the complete guide to everything chocolate. Melanie guides the reader with step-by-step pictures and detailed instructions on all the essential techniques, from tempering to making ganache, chocolate mousse, creme anglaise, biscuit bases, meringue and more. The main recipes include every chocolate dessert you could ever imagine, from caramel bonbons to shortbread to Easter eggs, truffles, macarons, cakes, swiss rolls, eclairs and more. This is a masterclass in making chocolate desserts from an expert pastry chef, and is truly a chocoaholic’s dream book!

Chocolat by Pierre Marcolini

Belgium’s foremost practitioner of the art of fine chocolate making shares his passion and his knowledge in this extravagantly beautiful volume. Pierre Marcolini’s confections have been acclaimed as the world’s most delectable chocolate creations, and his book is a delicious immersion into the world of fine chocolate and a tribute to its majesty. Marcolini was the first chocolatier to create his chocolates according to a bean-to-bar philosophy an idea born from the realisation that just as the finest wines reflect the terroir in which the grapes are grown, so too would chocolate benefit from careful selection from specific estates. Here, he reveals the trade secrets of the art of fine chocolate making: learn how to roast, grind, and temper the chocolate at home just like the professionals and master all aspects of chocolate making. His recipes run the gamut of chocolate possibilities irresistible creamy sauces, decadent pastries, bars, truffles, and even a smattering of savoury dishes and are beautifully presented and gorgeously photographed in this handsome volume that no chocolate lover should be without.

Lonely Planet’s Global Chocolate Tour by Lonely Planet 

Chock-full of the world’s tastiest chocolate experiences, the latest book in the Lonely Planet Global Tour series is sure to satisfy the sweet tooth of cocoa lovers near and far. From South America to Europe to Australia, Lonely Planet’s Global Chocolate Tour includes master chocolatiers and artisan producers, exotic cocoa plantations, and must-visit shops, plus illustrated spreads on the history, production, and science of chocolate making. Features 150 chocolate experiences from around the world with full-colour photos guaranteed to make mouths water.

Chocolate by Ferrandi Paris

This is the ultimate reference on cooking with chocolate from Ferrandi, the Parisian school of culinary arts that was dubbed the “Harvard of gastronomy” by Le Monde newspaper. This book offers a complete chocolate course for the home chef from the world-renowned professional culinary school Ferrandi Paris. It presents comprehensive techniques for working with chocolate, from tempering and decorative flourishes to recipes such as molten chocolate cake. From rich chocolate ganache to melt-in-your mouth truffles, this book leads aspiring bakers through every step-from basic to special occasion skills. Starting with advice on how to equip your kitchen, to essential techniques, fillings, and decorations, the books covers everything from quick desserts to holiday specialties and from frozen ice creams and sorbets to candies. Ferrandi offers an intensive course in the art of baking with chocolate. Written by the school’s experienced teaching team of master chefs and adapted for the home cook, this fully illustrated cookbook provides all of the fundamental techniques and recipes that are the building blocks of the illustrious French chocolate tradition.

Cocoa : An Exploration of Chocolate by Sue Quinn

Chocolate has beguiled us for millennia. From the spiced drinks sipped by the elite in ancient Mesoamerica to the artisan bars spiked with intriguing flavours we devour today, chocolate has always had a magical pull on our senses. Exotic, indulgent, hedonistic and sensual, its power over us somehow exceeds the sum of its parts. This ground-breaking exploration of chocolate, by award-winning writer and lifelong cocoa enthusiast Sue Quinn, will intrigue, inspire, surprise and fascinate you in equal measure. In these pages is a wealth of cultural, historical and culinary information about the story of chocolate through the ages and across the world, illustrated with vintage packaging, iconic adverts and stunning illustrations. Interspersed throughout the book are 80 tantalising sweet and savoury recipes, such as Salted Caramel and Lime Chocolate Sauce; Triple Chocolate and Liquorice Cake with Treacle Syrup; Spelt, Cranberry and Cocoa Nib Crackers; and Sticky Slow-Roasted Beef Short Ribs with Cocoa and Maple.

The Chocolate Addict’s Baking Book by Sabine Venier

Sabine Venier, founder of Also the Crumbs Please, shares her favourite chocolate recipes, including Dark Chocolate Almond Truffles, Caramel Pretzel Chocolate Skillet Cookie, S’mores Chocolate Cheesecake Bars, Chocolate Fudge Birthday Cake, Black Forest Cupcakes and Fudge Brownie Chocolate Ice Cream. Sabine’s rich, creative treats go beyond the basic cake and brownies to help readers discover new ways to get their chocolate fix and incorporate it into their baking. Perfect for bakers looking for that next deliciously chocolaty recipe or as a gift for the chocoholic in your life, this book is the ultimate guide to all things chocolate.

Enjoy!

Soak up the Bestsellers List this Summer

What does “holiday reading” mean to you? Does the slower pace of summer make you reach for light, breezy reads; or is this the time when you can finally commit to that big, substantial book? I do a bit of both – my Holiday Brain craves cheerful reads, but I always pack a variety just in case. I hope you can find YOUR perfect holiday read from this selection of recent bestsellers:

The Grand Tour by Olivia Wearne

When longtime friendly-neighbours Ruby and Angela set off for Adelaide in their campervan, little did they know what’s in store. These Grey Nomads became unwitting kidnappers when they discovered a little stowaway, and they also crossed paths with Angela’s estranged brother Bernard, a C-list celeb with his own troubles. Not only is The Grand Tour a quirky and very Aussie adventure, it is also a story about families – the ones you have and the ones you make. The laughter and heart just draws you in. The Grand Tour is Olivia Wearne’s debut novel, but she has a background in screenwriting and it shows – her descriptions are cinematic, the characters are well-developed, and the dialogue zings.

Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory

If you like holiday reads that sweep you off to a different time and place, then Dark Tides is for you. This atmospheric tale, set in London in the 1670s, is the sequel to Tidelands. We meet again with Alinor, a poor, hardworking woman who now owns a warehouse on the Thames riverbank. On Midsummer Eve, she receives two unexpected visitors, who set off a chain of events amidst the poverty of early Restoration London, the splendour of Venice as well as the wild frontiers of colonial America. Philippa Gregory is best known for her novels about Tudor royalty; her assured writing has translated equally well to this immersive series about a commoner family in a later era. 

All Adults Here by Emma Straub

All Adults Here is the ironic title of this gentle black comedy about an extended family from upstate New York – think Something’s Gotta Give crossed with The Royal Tenanbaums. The most grownup member of the Strick clan is probably 13-year-old granddaughter Cecelia – her parents, aunts and uncles, and even her grandmother still struggle with insecurity and adulting from time to time. Emma Straub writes affectionately about her cast of flawed characters, creates much humour from their interactions, and grounds their personal challenges in current issues including abortion, bullying, IVF, gender identity and sexual predators.

Because of You by Dawn French

On New Year’s Eve, as a new millenium arrives, two women are in the same hospital, giving birth. Only one of them will bring a baby home. Seventeen years later, the consequences of what happened that night slowly unravel, with surprising and poignant results. Five long years after her last novel, Dawn French has given birth to her latest hit, Because of You. This is a story about mothers and daughters, nature and nurture, mistakes and regret. Dawn French’s wit adds richness and lightness to an emotional and thought-provoking story; the rich characterisation and multiple points-of-view will draw you in and keep you hooked till the last page.

Lucky’s by Andrew Pippos

Another strong literary debut rewarded by bestselling status. Lucky’s is a big, multigenerational family saga about the rise and fall of Lucky Mallios, a Greek-American who settled in postwar Australia, and his eponymous chain of cafes. Sharp, vivid vignettes tell a story that spans almost a century, across several continents; yet this vastness telescopes into a finely interwoven web, where each character’s actions affect others in unforeseen and pernicious ways. Informed by Andrew Pippos’ personal history, the post-war migrant experience, and the iconic Greek-Australian cafe scene, both play important roles in this immersive story.


The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Richard Osman joins a long list of successful comedians-turned-authors – but he stands out by debuting with a murder mystery. The Thursday Murder Club is a quartet of residents in an upmarket retirement village, who meet weekly to pore over unsolved crimes. This seems a fun but academic pastime – until the day a murder happens close to home. Richard Osman’s clever, deadpan personality, as seen in TV shows such as Taskmaster and QI, also shines through in his writing. He skilfully balances distinctive and recognisable characterisation with a pinch of Miss Marple, a smidge of the Ealing comedies, and balances everything with poignant asides on ageing and the end of life. No wonder that The Thursday Murder Club has become the fastest-selling adult crime debut ever in the UK.

Monday Inspo

It’s the start of another week and the weather is meant to be glorious. To help you keep the holiday vibes going we are sharing the best summer reads on the blog later this week. Be sure to check it out.