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Emma White

Emma White

Episode 23 – Librarian’s choice

Emma White

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This episode I am joined by Emma White, Children and Youth Coordinator at Hobsons Bay Libraries and the current Convenor of the Public Libraries Victoria, Children’s and Youth Services Special Interest Group!

Emma has worked in public libraries for over 10 years, and is a passionate advocate for children and young people in library spaces. Emma has spent lockdown moving her cat off her keyboard during Zoom meetings, continuing home renovations with her partner and learning to make her own polymer clay earrings.

This episode we are talking about finding the best resources for kids in lockdown, plugging local libraries (of course!), our favourite children’s books and just what we would pair with them for a fabulous reading experience!
The pairings:
The Babysitters Club series by Ann M. Martin 

 Kristy’s Great Idea      Book #1

Kristy thinks the Baby-sitters Club is a great idea. She and her friends Claudia, Stacey, and Mary Anne all love taking care of kids. A club will give them the chance to have lots of fun – and make tons of money. But nobody counted on crank calls, uncontrollable two-year-olds, wild pets, and parents who don’t always tell the truth. And then there’s Stacey, who’s acting more and more mysterious. Having a baby-sitters club isn’t easy, but Kristy and her friends aren’t giving up until they get it right!

Emma loves this series for its wonderful portrayal of young girls beginning to find their way as young women, its focus on friendship and community and for how good the tv series adaptation has been!

She pairs this series with a Jellybean cocktail – a nostalgic classic, sweet but not too sweet, with enough colour, brightness and freshness and oomph for the whole club!

Jellybeans only for the tweens of course 😉


Amazing Australian Women: Twelve Women Who Shaped History by Pamela Freeman and Sophie Beer 

Meet twelve amazing Australian women who have changed the world, in small ways and large. Some of them are world famous, like Annette Kellerman and Nellie Melba. Some of them are famous in Australia, like Mary Reibey and Edith Cowan. All of them deserve to be famous and admired. These women are the warriors who paved the way for the artists, business owners, scientists, singers, politicians, actors, sports champions, adventurers, activists and innovators of Australia today.

Emma loves how inspiring and informative this book is. Whilst it is a junior non fiction book it is told in a wonderfully readable narrative way which makes you want to find out more about each of these amazing women.

She paired this amazing Australian book with an amazing Australian gin! The Kangaroo Island Spirits Mulberry Gin makes for a pretty darn delicious gin and tonic, punchy, sweet and tart and quintessentially Australian.


Nevermoor: The trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she’s blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks–and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.

But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.

It’s then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city’s most prestigious organization: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart – an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests – or she’ll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate.

This is the first in a series of which the second, Wundersmith: the calling of Morrigan Crow, is also fabulous and the third book, Hollowpox:  the hunt for Morrigan Crow is due out this September and I cannot wait! But, back to this book – it has been called a cross between Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter and I can totally see why although it is its own creature absolutely.

It is a lot of fun, very well-written and with such interesting, vivid and original magics within it! A coming of age story, a mystery and adventure story, this is a fantastic middle grade read but honestly, there is no age limit on books like this is there?!

Because as fun as this book is it is also somewhat ghoulish as all good kids books should be, Justine would pair it with Swamp Juice, a fun and easy  punch made with lime juice, lemonade and lime sherbert for that fizzy effect 🙂 For adults you just replace the lemonade with soda and the sherbert with your choice of gin for a refreshing, sharp and subtle traditional Gin Rickey cocktail.


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.       



Comfort Reads

Comfort Reads

Episode 22 – Librarian’s choice

Comfort Reads

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This episode I am going to be sharing with you some of my favourite comfort reads and what delicious thing I would pair with them for a wonderful reading experience!

It’s an interesting time to be in Melbourne right now, for me the current vibe is quite different from the first lockdown. Then there was an almost frenetic energy about needing to isolate. Now, at least what I am feeling, is a bit more of a malaise, you know? That general feeling of discomfort, unease and it’s also a little bit heavy, like there’s a weighted blanket on you and staying in bed is just the best you can do right now. And that’s okay if so.

I really struggle to read books in times like these. Where I would normally read a few books a week, right now I’m lucky to get through one. And trying to read a new book, even one I am super interested in, is quite tough. There are days I manage it, and there are days when I reach for my comfort reads. 

So today I wanted to share these with you, these favourite comforting, gentle and sometimes not so gentle reads and perhaps they can help you get some reading in too.

The pairings:

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer is a favourite which I paired with a delicious La Sirene wild ale – the Praline – in episode 2.

This is a classic, beautiful story set in the aftermath of WW2 England and follows a group of people picking up the pieces of their lives and discovering what their future might be. It is sweetly bitter and goes delightfully with the chocolatey, nutty, vanilla, creamy, complex, sweet and elegant Praline!

In episode 9 whilst chatting with the lovely Australian speculative fiction writer Samantha Marshall I recommended The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It is an enchanting story about a 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.

I spoke about I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith in episode 12 with the lovely librarian and youth advocate Adele Walsh. 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. All their lives will 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 paired this book with something wholesome and calming, a delicious chicken soup or a chamomile tea for the perfect wintery day comfort read!

And now some other suggestions which are what I am reaching for now:

The Talents saga by Anne McCaffrey

This is an epic series and one of my favourite things to do is to read the whole series again, from start to finish! Yes, I am one of those people who love to re-read books! If they are good enough I often read so quickly the first time I feel like I miss things but there is also that comfort aspect of knowing exactly what is going to happen. 

There are 8 books which make up the core 2 series which come under the Talents Universe and it all starts with To Ride Pegasus. This is actually a collection of 4 short stories first published in 1973! All the books feature Talents, people with psionic powers such as empathy, telepathy, teleportation, telekinesis, clairvoyance, precognition, and the ability to find what is lost (‘finders’).

This first book begins with the fortunate scientific discovery of psionic powers and the earliest establishment of Talents in human society, in New York late during the 20th century. The ‘precog’ Henry Darrow does not avoid his own foreseen car accident. In the hospital where he ends up, a talented nurse, Molly, notices his unusual electroencephalograph (EEG) recordings and they complete the discovery together and can not only prove that parapsychic powers exist but also, who has them. We then follow the ups and downs of the Talents as they fight to be respected and legally protected. 

The story is pretty epic in scope, it spans several lives and years and looks at the politics of a minority group of people often called ‘freaks’ becoming organised and making their place in a society which doesn’t always accept people who are different. 

The world which the author creates is not so different from our own, but also so futuristic it’s incredible to think these stories were written in the late 60’s early 70’s! And the writing always draws me in, the characters are fully realised and I am always invested in them.

This series is only one of many written by Anne McCaffrey and I love them all really.

Her most famous is the Dragonriders of Pern which are all fabulous, mostly fantasy but with some SF in there also. All definitely highly recommended of course!

To go with any of these books I would have to suggest an Old Fashioned … but with a twist!

I chose this pairing because whilst I love Anne McCaffreys books, they are old fashioned and some of them are somewhat problematic when viewed through a modern lens.

A Cocoa Old-Fashioned, just perfect for this winter weather with its use of a three day cacao-nib infused warming rye whiskey and just a few dashes of a mole bitters which adds a sweet and spicy touch to this classic shock of alcohol will help smooth some of the bumpy aspects and the sweet and spicy notes will go perfectly with these stories of love and family, of what is human and what is alien. 


As an aside, I was also thinking of talking about another favourite re-read of mine which is a series by David Eddings – not the Belgariad or the Mallorean although I love those, but the Elenium and the Tamuli. If you like your fantasy with Knights on Quests and Magic and Gods, different cultures, strong women and handsome men, then this is a great series for you!

To be drunk with an Imperial IPA – full of hops and flavour and warmth.


My next recommendation is going to be the two novellas River of Teeth and Taste of Marrow by Sarah Gailey. Otherwise known as American Hippo when they are together in one volume.

 Yep, you heard right … American HIPPO.

Years ago, in an alternate America, the United States government introduced herds of hippos to the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This plan failed to take into account some key facts about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.

By the 1890s, the vast bayou that was once America’s greatest waterway belongs to feral hippos, and Winslow Houndstooth has been contracted to take it back. To do so, he will gather a crew of the damnedest cons, outlaws, and assassins to ever ride a hippo. American Hippo is the story of their fortunes, their failures, and his revenge.

1890s Louisiana, with hippos. Feral hippos. Hippo ranchers and outlaw hippo wranglers. Queer misfits on a quest. Did I mention hippos? It’s as weird and fun as it sounds. You’re welcome.

Seriously one of the only books I have managed to read these last few weeks was another Sarah Gailey novella, Upright Women Wanted, and her take on the American West is just super fun and will take you completely out of this world we are in right now. 

American Hippo is not always pretty, it’s definitely not easy, but it’s fun, spunky, sharp, dry, dry, dry and it’s darkly ridiculous. It’s also very loosely based on a true story when just such a plan to introduce hippos into America was proposed to Congress in 1910.

If you like hippos, obviously, explosions, romance, fights, diverse characters, poisoners, the Old West, but with hippos, then you will like these stories and honestly they are a breath of fresh air!

These characters are hard drinkers so we’re gonna keep it simple here and pair American Hippo with a Tequila Honeysuckle.

Tequila, honey syrup and lime. Sweet, sharp, dry and delicious. What could be better?


Before I finish I want to also shout out the new Baby Sitters Club on Netflix, what a gorgeous fresh take on a classic! It has been updated really well with a lovely youthful feel yet a hint of nostalgia, this has been such a joy to watch when my brain has not wanted to do much at all. 

What it does though is make me want a spider – no, not the 8 legged kind, but the drink!

I believe in countries other than mine it is known as an ice cream float or ice cream soda,  Basically it is a decent scoop of vanilla ice cream in a cola or other kind of soft drink. As an adult I must confess this sounds disgusting. And yet, I want one. 


There are so many more books I could talk about, favourite romance books, favourite kids books, but I will leave it there.


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.       



Andrew Kelly

Andrew Kelly

Episode 21 – Librarian’s choice

Andrew Kelly

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This episode I am joined by librarian Andrew Kelly.
Andrew is a library professional from Perth who has worked in both public and special libraries. He has spent the last few years earning a name for himself in the world of library makerspaces and 3D printing. In 2017 he helped set up the Perth branch of newCardigan – a group for Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museum workers, and is currently newCardigan Treasurer.
This episode we did something a little different … a few weeks ago I posted a pairing of a favourite read of mine, The Rook by Daniel O’Malley. Andrew saw my post on Twitter and we started chatting about the fact that he had not read the book, but had watched the TV series and loved it and was nervous about reading the book, and I had not watched the TV series as I didn’t want it to ruin the book! So we made a pact to each read or watch the other format of this story and report back.
Short version? Nah, you have to listen to find out 😉
The pairings:
Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the ageing Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. But it’s about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunnelling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other.
Andrew paired this book with a classic Daiquiri cocktail, refreshing and delicious! 
In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety. However, in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.
On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid—a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is. But when a neighbouring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.
This is a delightfully snarky, fun, fast-paced page-turner. I love the main character of Murderbot, it is so darkly, drily sardonic. I would pair this with something really salty but really fun to drink. When I was looking at what cocktails that might be I stumbled across this delicious sounding drink, the Ponche de Champagne which is a punch (yes, that is a mild reference to Murderbot’s capabilities)  that includes salt – roasted plantain syrup, banana, passion-fruit, star- anise and cinnamon with champagne floated on top.



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.       



Leonee Derr

Leonee Derr

Episode 18 – Librarian’s choice

Leonee Derr

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This episode I am joined by Leonee Derr, who, for the last 20 years has dedicated her work-life to serving and supporting community – particularly those under-served, under-represented and those most experiencing marginalisation. She has worked in public libraries for the last 14 years with the majority of her advocacy focussed on amplifying voices of youth and young adults. In 2012 she received a scholarship to travel the world gathering evidence, doing research and participating in work placements. Her research explored how physical space and place, architecture and its design, create an atmosphere that signifies inclusion or exclusion to young people.  

Leonee has used her passion and voice to share important and crucial ideas about radical librarianship, social justice having a place in libraries, the myth of neutrality and safety amongst many other topics around the world presenting at conferences and publishing papers. Most recently, she and 4 other library leaders wrote the paper Who Do We Think We Are? Understanding Diversity in the Victorian Public Library Workforce. 

Leonee is currently on a sabbatical from public libraries focussing on writing and storytelling to build community in her role as a content producer for a fortune 500 company. 

She was kind enough to spend some time chatting with me about her proudest project, diversity and neutrality in libraries, uplifting humanity and amplifying voices of marginalised communities and then she picked some excellent books to review and pair!

There was some passionate swearing involved in this conversation so maybe listen with your headphones on 😉

The pairings: 

One Hundred Years Of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

‘Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice’.

Gabriel García Márquez’s great masterpiece is the story of seven generations of the Buendía family and of Macondo, the town they have built. Though little more than a settlement surrounded by mountains, Macondo has its wars and disasters, even its wonders and its miracles. A microcosm of Columbian life, its secrets lie hidden, encoded in a book, and only Aureliano Buendía can fathom its mysteries and reveal its shrouded destiny. Blending political reality with magic realism, fantasy and comic invention, One Hundred Years of Solitude is one of the most daringly original works of the twentieth century. 

Leonee suggested reading this wonderful classic with a Red Vermouth on ice with a squeeze and slice of fresh lime. The vermouth has a saccharine sweetness reminiscent of flowers just before they rot and the lime gives it a sharp, citrus tang to cut through. This drink also has the alcoholic kick you’ll likely need for this sweeping, original and classic of stories 😉

The Yield by Tara June Winch

Knowing that he will soon die, Albert ‘Poppy’ Gondiwindi takes pen to paper. His life has been spent on the banks of the Murrumby River at Prosperous House, on Massacre Plains. Albert is determined to pass on the language of his people and everything that was ever remembered. He finds the words on the wind.

August Gondiwindi has been living on the other side of the world for ten years when she learns of her grandfather’s death. She returns home for his burial, wracked with grief and burdened with all she tried to leave behind. Her homecoming is bittersweet as she confronts the love of her kin and news that Prosperous is to be repossessed by a mining company. Determined to make amends she endeavours to save their land – a quest that leads her to the voice of her grandfather and into the past, the stories of her people, the secrets of the river.

Profoundly moving and exquisitely written, Tara June Winch’s The Yield is the story of a people and a culture dispossessed. But it is as much a celebration of what was and what endures, and a powerful reclaiming of Indigenous language, storytelling and identity.

Winner of the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards 2020 – for Fiction, People’s Choice and Book of the Year
Shortlisted The Stella Prize 2020
Shortlisted Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction 2020
Longlisted Miles Franklin Literary Award 2020

The only thing Leonee could imagine drinking whilst reading this book is a calming Chamomile Tea. It helps that you can let it go cold when you get caught up in the story!


Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

In the 150 years since the end of the Civil War and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, the story of race and America has remained a brutally simple one, written on flesh: it is the story of the black body, exploited to create the country’s foundational wealth, violently segregated to unite a nation after a civil war, and, today, still disproportionately threatened, locked up and killed in the streets. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can America reckon with its fraught racial history?

Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’ attempt to answer those questions, presented in the form of a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son-and readers-the story of his own awakening to the truth about history and race through a series of revelatory experiences: immersion in nationalist mythology as a child; engagement with history, poetry and love at Howard University; travels to Civil War battlefields and the South Side of Chicago; a journey to France that reorients his sense of the world; and pilgrimages to the homes of mothers whose children’s lives have been taken as American plunder. Taken together, these stories map a winding path towards a kind of liberation-a journey from fear and confusion, to a full and honest understanding of the world as it is.

Masterfully woven from lyrical personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me offers a powerful new framework for understanding America’s history and current crisis, and a transcendent vision for a way forward.

Justine suggests pouring yourself a long, cold vodka, and soda with a squeeze and slice or two of fresh lime – a drink that is easy and refreshing when reading difficult words.  


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.       


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.