Review: Christmas Tales – Willaim McInnes

William McInnes

Christmas Tales

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733644733

RRP $32.99


‘Tis the season to be jolly! One of Australia’s favourite storytellers is back with a collection of stories about everyone’s favourite family holiday.


I can’t help it if I’m a boring conservative dag, but I love Christmas, always have and hopefully always will. Whatever brand of faith you fly under, even if you proclaim you don’t have one, Christmas is a time of generosity, good citizenship and decency.

It’s the holiday where shopping centres become a sea of dazed shoppers bearing checklists as long as your arm, lunch is a never-ending buffet of prawns and ham and your electricity bill is doubly struck by having to run the fan all day and keep those decorative lights blinking through the night.

William McInnes, bestselling author of FATHERHOOD, WORSE THINGS HAPPEN AT SEA, and A MAN’S GOT TO HAVE A HOBBY tackles the silly season in a way only he can – telling stories brimming with good humour and nostalgia, to remind us what Christmas is all about: family.


My View:

One-part cheekiness, one-part fun and one-part memoir, this read is entertaining, hilarious, poignant at times and so relatable.

I really enjoy William McInnes writing style; a mix of witty storytelling (I do wish I could be one of your dinner guests one day, it would be so fun to hear you reminisce), stream of consciousness insights into the life, escapades and thoughts of this popular Australian actor and writer as he recounts Christmas past.


There is wonderful recounting of childhood innocence as Christmas is explored; the gift giving, the myths of Santa (in his many guises), family fun and rituals and then we are privileged to hear more anecdotes, more memories, sweet and bitter sweet.


William McInnes is a natural writer and I enjoy his “tell all” style and humour.

Review: Rudie Nudie Christmas – Emma Quay

Rudie Nudie Christmas

Emma Quay

Harper Collins Publishers

ABC Books


RRP $24.99



A delightful Rudie Nudie celebration of the joy of Christmas from award-winning creator Emma Quay.


Yoo-hoo, Rudie Nudie.

Rudie Nudie, where are you?

It is very nearly Christmas Day

for Rudie one and two.


It’s Christmas Eve and two little rudie nudies are on the run again!


From bestselling author-illustrator Emma Quay comes the perfect book to share this holiday season.


My View:

This is another joy filled book of innocence from award winning writer and illustrator Emma Quay. If you are thinking of buying a child you know a book for Christmas (or even before then – it such a cute read), get yourself a copy of Rudie Nudie Christmas.


“Rudie Nudie up in lights,

Wishing Santa would appear

The sooner we’re asleep,

then the sooner he’ll be here.”





Review: Bluey – The Beach – Bluey

Bluey – The Beach



Penguin Random House

ISBN: 9781760894054



“Based on the hit ABC KIDS TV show!


Join Bluey for a fun day at the beach. What will you discover along the way?


While Mum is off for a walk along the beach, Bluey discovers a beautiful shell. She runs to show Mum and has a series of encounters that will both excite and test her in unexpected ways.


Bluey has been a phenomenal success since airing on ABC KIDS in October 2018, amassing legions of dedicated fans and taking the coveted position of being the most watched program ever on ABC iView, with over 100 million plays. It has also topped the Australian iTunes Kids Chart with the series peaking at #1 and consistently remaining in the Top 5.”



My View:

Delightful! WE all love Bluey – young and old. This book has a charming colloquial Australian voice and is full of humour and of course great lessons for the young people.


I think this book will be the hit of Christmas – the BEST present! And the good news – there are more in the series to make birthday gift buying during the year easy.

Post Script: Two Weeks ‘Til Christmas – Laura Greaves

Two Weeks Til Christmas

Two Weeks ‘til Christmas

Laura Greaves

Penguin Random House

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9780143787709



Claire Thorne never expected to be heading home for Christmas in Bindallarah – the small country town she left behind thirteen years ago and spends every day trying to forget. But then again she never expected fate to bring Scotty, her oldest friend and first love back into her life. Or for Scotty to tell her that he’s about to get married – to a girl he barely knows.


With only two weeks until Scotty’s big day on Christmas Eve, Claire’s determined to make up for lost time and help plan his wedding. And while she’s at it, she can make sure he’s not making a life-changing mistake. After all, it’s what any good friend would do.


But is two weeks enough time for Claire to find the answers she needs? And will she be brave enough to question her own heart and the choices she’s made along the way?


My View:

The perfect read for the fan of Aussie chick lit.  

A fast moving, light, quick read with a wonderful Australian landscape – city and small town, rural. Perhaps this could also be classified as an “Australian coming of age narrative”, as the protagonist addresses many issues from her past that have influenced her expectations of life. A happy ever after that will leave a smile on your face.

As a bonus- if you love horses – this is a book you are bound to enjoy!



Turkey, Feta, Stuffing and Cranberry Salad: Spice Heroes – Natasha MacAller

spice-health-heroes‘Images and recipes from Spice Health Heroes by Natasha MacAller (Murdoch Books). Photography by Manja Wachsmuth. RRP $49.99’



Turkey, Feta, Stuffing And Cranberry Salad


“What to do with all the winter-holiday, family-gathering leftovers? After a day or two of feasting on family favourites, this is an easy, fun and healthy way to make a little space in the fridge. Instead of making them from scratch (though they are very easy), you could add a hydrated stock cube and a little oil to a cup of leftover stuffing to make the thin croutons that top this light salad, which is finished with spoonfuls of Cranberry Compote and drizzled with a cranberry and coriander seed and (cilantro) leaf vinaigrette.” p.108




300g (10½oz.) rocket or cress and butter lettuce, torn

500g (1lb. 2oz.) cooked turkey, torn into shreds

100g (3½oz.) feta, cut into small cubes

200g (7oz.) Cranberry Compote (see below)


For the stuffing croutons:

40g (1½oz./2/3 cup) breadcrumbs

I tsp poultry seasoning

½ tsp each of garlic and onion powder

pinch each salt, sugar and cayenne pepper

1 tsp ground coriander

3 egg whites

½ chicken or vegetable stock cube, dissolved in ½ tsp hot water

4 tsp vegetable oil


For the vinaigrette (makes 300ml/1¼ cups):

120ml (½ cup) red wine vinegar

3 tbsp cranberry juice

1 garlic clove, minced

1½ tsp lemon juice

1½ tsp toasted ground coriander

1 tbsp minced coriander (cilantro) leaves, plus extra whole leaves to serve

1 tsp roughly chopped tarragon

1 tsp roughly chopped parsley

30g (1oz./¼ cup) dried cranberries

120ml (½ cup) extra virgin olive oil


To make the stuffing croutons, preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/gas mark 5). Mix the breadcrumbs and seasonings together in a small bowl. In another small bowl, beat the egg whites and dissolved stock cube. Whisk in the oil then gently mix the breadcrumbs into the egg whites. Adjust seasonings. Using a small metal spatula, spread the stuffing batter into little circles or square shapes directly onto a silicone- or parchment-lined baking tray. Sprinkle with flake salt and bake for 10–12 minutes until crisp.


To make the vinaigrette, put all the ingredients except oil into a blender with a tight-fitting lid and blend well. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the oil so it will emulsify together. Season with salt to taste. To assemble, scatter the salad leaves on the plates and top with turkey, feta and teaspoonfuls of Cranberry Compote. Top with croutons. Drizzle the dressing over the top and scatter on a few coriander (cilantro) leaves to finish.


Cranberry Compote


350g (12oz./3½ cups) cranberries

1 cinnamon stick, charred

200g (7oz./1 cup) granulated sugar

2 allspice berries

1 tangerine, sliced into 4 horizontally

¼ tsp white pepper

large pinch salt


Put all the ingredients into a pan with 240ml (1 cup) of water and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for about 8 minutes then remove from the heat. Strain out the fruit and spices and set aside. Simmer the liquid until reduced by half. Return the fruit and spices to the pan and stir to combine. Cool, then cover and chill until needed.


Recipes and food prep by Natasha MacAller. Props by Lianne Whorwood @ The Propsdepartment. Food styling by Manja Wachsmuth

Recipes and food prep by Natasha MacAller. Props by Lianne Whorwood @ The Propsdepartment. Food styling by Manja Wachsmuth

Snow Man Snow Globes: Sweet Celebrations – Elise Strachan


Images and recipes from Sweet! Celebrations by Elise Strachan (Murdoch Books) $39.99


Snowmen Snow Globes


Makes 12 ‘snowmen’


You’ll need

100 g white compound chocolate

12 (1 pint capacity) mason jars with lids

24 Raffaello (coconut truffles with almond centres) (keep refrigerated until ready to use)

12 Lindt Lindor White Chocolate Truffles (keep refrigerated until ready to use)

55 g black candy melts

12 orange candy-coated sunflower seeds

6 Mini Oreo Cookies

6 mini peanut butter cups or Rolo Chewy Caramels (little cups)

Red candy straps

65 g shredded coconut


1   Melt the white chocolate (see page 220) and place a tablespoon of it onto the inside of each of the mason jar lids. Place one Raffaello into the white melted chocolate on each lid, and refrigerate to set.

2   Once set, place ¼ teaspoon of the white melted chocolate onto the Raffaello and glue a second Raffaello on top (for the snowman’s body). Allow to set. Use more melted chocolate to glue on one of the Lindor truffles (the snowman’s head) and allow to set.

3   Melt the black candy melts and use the flat end of a toothpick to fashion two black eyes and a line of black dots for a mouth. Place three black dots (buttons) down the front of the two bottom truffles.

4   Place a small dab of white melted chocolate on
the fat side of a sunflower seed and attach it to the top truffle; this is the snowman’s nose.

5   Split the Mini Oreo Cookies in half and scrape the cream filling off of the cookies.

6   Use a small amount of black melted candy to glue a mini peanut butter cup (or a Rolo) to one of the scraped cookies to make a hat. Use white melted chocolate to attach the hat to the snowman’s head.

7   Make the snowmen’s scarves: Cut a candy strap into a piece 13 cm long and 5 mm wide and use scissors to cut tassels on the ends. Wrap the scarf around each snowman’s neck. Secure with a little white melted chocolate.

8    Sprinkle the base of the lid with a little coconut “snow” and carefully invert the jar over the snowman, screwing it into the lid to create an edible snow globe.



Post Script: Dying For Christmas – Tammy (Tamar) Cohen

Book a physio before you start reading – the tension in this book lodged in my shoulders…what a read!

Dying For Christmas

Tammy Cohen

Random House UK, Transworld Publishers

Black Swan

ISBN: 9781784160173




I am missing. Held captive by a blue-eyed stranger. To mark the twelve days of Christmas, he gives me a gift every day, each more horrible than the last. The twelfth day is getting closer. After that, there’ll be no more Christmas cheer for me. No mince pies, no carols. No way out …


But I have a secret. No-one has guessed it. Will you?


About The Author:

Tammy Cohen (who was previously published under her formal name Tamar Cohen) is a freelance journalist. A late starter to fiction – and to other things besides – she has now written four novels: The Mistress’s Revenge, The War of the Wives, Someone Else’s Wedding, and The Broken. Now embarking on psychological suspense, Dying for Christmas is her first Yuletide chiller to be published October 2014. She is a Writer in Residence at Kingston University and lives in North London with her partner and three (nearly) grown children, plus one very badly behaved dog. Follow her on Twitter @MsTamarCohen



My View:

Tammy (Tamar) Cohen creates an atmosphere and tension that is palpable. She foretells the potential crime in those beginning lines “Chances are, by the time you finish reading this, I’ll be dead.” And the tension just ratchets from there on. The first half of the narrative kept me reading and reading into the night. Just before midnight I went to bed only to get up a few hours later (I couldn’t sleep with this unfinished). Three in the morning I stumbled back to bed…very satisfied with this read.


The cover image belies the secrets and lies within the covers; this is not some cutesy Christmas read with all things happy and bright. In fact is it dark, it is twisted and there are so many truths later revealed as fiction that you will not believe where this leads to. Admittedly about midway I had to park my disbelief at the door, such were the number of twists and turns and misdirection’s this narrative took me on but it was worth the parking ticket. Tension, tension and tension abide in this remarkable read. Merry Christmas.