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Adele Walsh

Adele Walsh

Episode 12 – Librarian’s choice

Adele Walsh

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This episode I am joined by blogger, podcaster and youth literature advocate Adele Walsh!

Adele began blogging as Persnickety Snark in 2008 focussing on championing youth literature and its intended teen audience. She has been Program Coordinator for the State Library of Victoria’s Centre for Youth Literature, founding co-host of the literary podcast, Unladylike and co-host of the podcast What Would Danbury Do? about the Bridgerton Series by Julia Quinn.

Adele is currently Senior Coordinator, Community Outreach & Engagement at La Trobe University Our conversation ranged all over from what exactly is snarkiness to creating podcasts around things we love and starting book blogs and getting reading hangovers … and of course, to the books and just what would we pair them with!

The pairings:

On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs—the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.

And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor’s only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother—who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.

This is Adele’s favourite Young Adult book of all time, it feels like home to her and she would pair it with a bowl of Mac N Cheese and/or a glass of the dry, delightful and refreshing Steels Gate Rose.

The Sum of All Kisses by Julia Quinn

Hugh Prentice has never had patience for dramatic females, and if Lady Sarah Pleinsworth has ever been acquainted with the words shy or retiring, she’s long since tossed them out the window. Besides, a reckless duel has left this brilliant mathematician with a ruined leg, and now he could never court a woman like Sarah, much less dream of marrying her.
Sarah has never forgiven Hugh for the duel he fought that nearly destroyed her family. But even if she could find a way to forgive him, it wouldn’t matter. She doesn’t care that his leg is less than perfect, it’s his personality she can’t abide. But forced to spend a week in close company they discover that first impressions are not always reliable. And when one kiss leads to two, three, and four, the mathematician may lose count, and the lady may, for the first time, find herself speechless.

Adele suggested a Gin & Tonic would be the perfect pairing for this tart, dry and effervescent romance!

I Capture The Castle by Dodi Smith 

Through six turbulent months of 1934, 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain keeps a journal, filling three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries about her home, a ruined Suffolk castle, and her eccentric and penniless family. Cassandra’s father was once a famous writer, but now he mainly reads detective novels while his family slide into genteel poverty. Her sister Rose is bored and beautiful, and desperate to marry riche. Their step-mother Topaz has a habit of striding through the countryside wearing only her wellington boots. But all their lives will be soon be transformed by the arrival of rich new neighbours from America, and Cassandra finds herself falling in love.

This is a lovely, gentle read with a great voice in Cassandra. It is a book which feels quite nostalgic, with a longing for a happier past, yet it is hopeful for the future.

I would want to have something wholesome and calming whilst reading this book, perhaps a delicious chicken soup or a chamomile tea for the perfect rainy day comfort read!


This episode of Literary Elixirs was recorded via Zoom, please forgive any minor technical glitches! 

Into/Outro music is Mosquito Mojito by Rachel K. Collier. Sourced from Free Music Archive under a Creative Commons Licence.   



Jodi McAlister

Jodi McAlister

Episode 10 – Author’s choice

Jodi McAlister

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Joining me virtually for this episode is academic and Young Adult romance author Jodi McAlister!

Jodi is the author of the Valentine series, a young adult paranormal romance/urban fantasy series about smart girls, small towns, and scary fairies. There are three books in the series so far: Valentine, Ironheart, and Misrule , all published by Penguin Teen Australia. 

Jodi is also currently a lecturer in Writing and Literature at Deakin University in Melbourne. Her academic work focuses on the history of love, sex, women and girls, popular culture and fiction.

The pairings:

Pretty Face (London Celebrities #2) by Lucy Parker

It’s not actress Lily Lamprey’s fault that she’s all curves and has the kind of voice that can fog up a camera lens. She wants to prove where her real talents lie—and that’s not on a casting couch, thank you. When she hears esteemed director Luc Savage is renovating a legendary West End theater for a lofty new production, she knows it could be her chance—if only Luc wasn’t so dictatorial, so bad-tempered and so incredibly sexy.

Luc Savage has respect, integrity and experience. He also has it bad for Lily. He’d be willing to dismiss it as a midlife crisis, but this exasperating, irresistible woman is actually a very talented actress. Unfortunately, their romance is not only raising questions about Lily’s suddenly rising career, it’s threatening Luc’s professional reputation. The course of true love never did run smooth. But if they’re not careful, it could bring down the curtain on both their careers…

Jodi suggested two wines, one to pair with each main character:

For Lily Lamprey Jodi recommends the Clem Blanc field blend from Sinapius winery in the Tamar Valley as it is dry, light, floral and refreshing!

For Luc Savage Jodi recommends the mature, dry and juicy (but not heavy) Julius Shiraz from Z Winery in the Barossa Valley.

Bittersweet (#1 True North) by Sarina Bowen

The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago. At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.

Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.

They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some

Jodi suggests that only a cider will do for this funky, sweet and delicious read, specifically Willie Smith’s Wild Apple Cider as it is spicy, savoury and a little bit different!

Devils Bride by Stephanie Laurens

When Devil, the most infamous member of the Cynster family, is caught in a compromising position with plucky governess Honoria Wetherby, he astonishes the entire town by offering his hand in marriage. No one dreamed this scandalous rake would ever take a bride. But Honoria wasn′t about to bend to society′s demands and marry a man “just” because they′d been found together virtually unchaperoned. No, she craved adventure, and while solving the murder of a young Cynster cousin fit the bill for a while, she decided that once the crime was solved she′d go off to see the world. 

Justine would read this book sipping slowly at a sweet and delicious De Bortoli Noble One Semillon – apricot-y, marmalade-y, honey-like mead – this is a smooth and not sickly sweet drink!

This episode of Literary Elixirs was recorded via Zoom, please forgive any minor technical glitches! 

Into/Outro music is Mosquito Mojito by Rachel K. Collier. Sourced from Free Music Archive under a Creative Commons Licence.   


Samantha Marshall

Samantha Marshall

Episode 9 – Author’s choice

Samantha Marshall

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Joining me for this episode via online chat is the lovely speculative fiction author Samantha Marshall!

Samantha has written three books across two series, Aislinn’s Shadow and Tobias’ Spark in The Kin Chronicles and Sorcery and Stardust is the first in The Weaver’s War series.
If you love action packed, shape-shifting, strong characters in an Australian (and space in The Weaver’s War) setting then do yourself a favour and check out Samantha’s books!

Samantha chatted with me about writing believable characters, our mutual love of hard SF and also chose two of her favourite books to pair with delicious elixirs!

The pairings:

Shield of Winter by Nalini Singh (#13 in the Psy-Changeling series)

Vasic is an assassin and a soldier. His soul is drenched in blood, his conscience heavy with the weight of all he’s done, he exists in the shadows, far from the hope his people can almost touch—if only they do not first drown in the murderous insanity of a lethal contagion. To stop the wave of death, Vasic must complete the simplest and most difficult mission of his life.

Having rebuilt her life after medical “treatment” that violated her mind and sought to stifle her abilities, Ivy should have run from the black-clad Vasic. But Ivy Jane has never done what she should. Now, she’ll fight for her people, and for Vasic who stands as her living shield, yet believes he is beyond redemption. But as the world turns to screaming crimson, even Ivy’s fierce will may not be enough to save Vasic from the cold darkness…

Samantha says this is a meaty plot, layered, with a lovely romantic storyline, a good comfort read which would go well with a hot chocolate with a dash of caramel syrup and a chocolate mud cake as it is warm and snuggly.

The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett (Discworld #24)

They say that diplomacy is a gentle art. That its finest practitioners are subtle, sophisticated individuals for whom nuance and subtext are meat and drink. And that mastering it is a lifetime’s work. But you do need a certain inclination in that direction. It’s not something you can just pick up on the job. Sam Vimes is a man on the run. Yesterday he was a Duke, a Chief of Police and the Ambassador to the mysterious, fat-rich county of Uberwald.  Now he has nothing but his native wit and the gloomy trousers of Uncle Vanya (don’t ask). It’s snowing. It’s freezing. And if he can’t make it through the forest to civilisation there’s going to be a terrible war. But there are monsters on his trail. They’re bright. They’re fast. They’re werewolves – and they’re catching up. 

Samantha would pair this fun, dry, layered and salty read with a sweet moscato and antipasto platter to cut through the bitey-ness!


I suggested one of my favourite comfort reads:

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is an enchanting story about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a buried treasure he dreamed about finding. Along the way he meets many people who point him in the direction of his quest which turns out to be about more than just worldly goods but about the treasure found within.

It is a simple story with such wonderful warmth and a golden heart, slightly sweet and very soothing so i’d pair it with a delicious turmeric latte made with coconut milk.


This episode of Literary Elixirs was recorded via Zoom, please forgive any minor technical glitches!

Into/Outro music is Mosquito Mojito by Rachel K. Collier. Sourced from Free Music Archive under a Creative Commons Licence.   



Episode 7 – Books & Wine


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Wine and books are a match made in Preston! I was excited to chat with Gary at Jamsheed Urban Winery and only slightly nervous after he told me he majored in Literature and was very interested in what books I was going to suggest to pair with his wines … oh the pressure!

I think I did rather well but you’ll have to listen for yourselves to find out 🙂

Jamsheed Urban Winery in Preston is a fully functioning winery housed in a rather large warehouse in Preston. The space, like the wine, is packed with personality with an industrial brewery feel on one level and a cosy lounge and pool room on another. 

Gary and I sat in the lounge area of this working winery and had a lovely chat about three of his many beautiful wines, how he fell into the winemaking business and how a winery is similar to an author.

The wine and the books: 

2018 Jamsheed Beechworth Roussanne – honeysuckle, buttercup, fleshy grapefruit, mineral, textural

 Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg – This book starts out as the story of two women in the 1980s, of gray-headed Mrs. Ninny Threadgoode telling her life story to Evelyn, who is in the sad slump of middle age. The tale she tells is also of two women-of the irrepressibly daredevilish tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth, who back in the thirties ran a little place in Whistle Stop, Alabama, a Southern cafe offering good barbecue and good coffee and all kinds of love and laughter, even an occasional murder. 

The tale is told in snippets, as the narrative jumps across time and space with various narrators. At the heart of the novel is the relationship between Idgie and Ruth. 

Ruth’s doomed marriage to Frank Bennet and the tragedy within that marriage is foreshadowed early – but the author drags on the suspense till the very end about what actually happened to Frank Bennet and whether Idgie had anything to do with it.  

There are also other dramas surrounding non traditional families, the 1930s modern woman, racism and small town life. 

This is a delightful, moving, sassy, textural, fleshy and earthy read which deserves to be read whilst drinking a delicious wine like this one.  

I should add that the movie is quite good, almost as good as the book! 


2019 Candy Flip – a blend of Pinot Gris, Mourvedre and Merlot – Pet Nat style – Red apple/Schapple, crushed blood oranges, rosehip and red rooibos tea flavours. Finishes lively and playful!  

The 100 year old man who climbed out the window and disappeared by Jonas Jonasson is a funny, clever and heart-warming debut novel. Kind of like a cross between Forrest Gump and Up! if you know those movies! 

The 100 year old man, Allan, is a wonderfully playful character. His love of vodka and indifference to politics combine with his ability to blow things up and get him into lots of trouble! Through Allan we see some of the momentous events of the twentieth century in a new light. We travel from Sweden to Spain, from the USA to China. 

It all starts on Allan’s one-hundredth birthday when, sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home, he is waiting for the party he-never-wanted-anyway to begin. The mayor is going to be there. The press is going to be there. But, as it turns out, Allan is not…Slowly but surely Allan climbs out of his bedroom window, into the flowerbed (in his slippers) and makes his getaway. And so begins his unlikely journey involving criminals, several murders, a suitcase full of cash, and incompetent police. As his escapades unfold, we learn something of Allan’s earlier life in which – remarkably – he helped to make the atom bomb, became friends with American presidents, Russian tyrants, and Chinese leaders, and was a participant behind the scenes in many key events of the twentieth century. 

This is a lively, light, bright, playful and fun read and highly recommended with a vibrant tipple! 


2017 Ma Petite Francine 100% Cabernet Franc – raspberry, cherry mulberry leaf, funky with some green pepper, red liquorice and red berry, earthy forest floor

Mr Penumbra’s 24 hour bookstore by Robin Sloan

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, but after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything; instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Totally clueless, yet suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele’s behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends, but when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls.

What follows is a fantastical series of events involving secret booknerd societies, typography, ancient artifacts, codes and puzzles, the capabilities of computers, and the coolest bookstore you have ever heard of. It’s a collision of ancient mystery and very modern, internet-savvy characters. It is a juicy, red berry, funky and vibrant read.


Gary also shared some of his recommended reads:

Infinite detail by Tim Maughan – fantastic science fiction read.

Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman is the best Australian novel Gary has read in a long time, unexpected and brilliantly conceived.

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje is a book of precision writing, not a word out of place and so detailed.



4 Albert Street, Preston, Vic 3053

[email protected] 

Literary Elixirs is recorded live in a noisy world. 

Into/Outro music is Mosquito Mojito by Rachel K. Collier. Sourced from Free Music Archive under a Creative Commons Licence.