The Chocolate Tin by Fiona McIntosh, book review









Title: The Chocolate Tin
by: Fiona McIntosh
Publisher: Penguin


Alexandra Frobisher is a modern-thinking woman with hopes of a career in England’s famous chocolate-making town of York. She has received several proposals of marriage, although none of them promises that elusive extra – love.
Matthew Britten-Jones is a man of charm and strong social standing. He impresses Alex and her parents with his wit and intelligence, but would an amicable union be enough for a fulfilling life together?
At the end of the war, Captain Harry Blakeney discovers a dead soldier in a trench in France. In the man’s possession is a secret love note, tucked inside a tin of chocolate that had been sent to the soldiers as a gift from the people back home.
In pursuit of the author of this mysterious message, Harry travels to Rowntree’s chocolate factory in England’s north, where his life becomes inextricably bound with Alexandra and Matthew’s. Only together will they be able to unlock secrets of the past and offer each other the greatest gift for the future.
From the battlefields of northern France to the medieval city of York, this is a heartbreaking tale about a triangle of love in all its forms and a story about the bittersweet taste of life . . . and of chocolate.

“What about love, Mother?’ was Alexandra Frobisher’s question. She wanted to do  more than have the sum of her life being organised into a sound marriage. According to her mother, every daughter was a wife in training. But Alexandra Frobisher was ambitious, and wanted to pursue a career. In chocolate.

Author, Fiona McIntosh, has penned a compelling romance set in 1915 in the famous chocolate making town of York, in England’s north. Alexandra Frobisher has dreams of owning her own chocolate business, but is trapped by society’s expectations and by the necessity of an arranged marriage to approved suitable men, without any spark of love, least of all attraction. But then she meets Matthew Britten-Jones. He is the answer to her means to an end, and to escape a life of compliance; a mundane existence. They get along exceptionally well and their arrangement gives them both the freedom they desire. So they enter a marriage of convenience under the guise of love, where both of their families are well pleased.

Matthew supports Alexandra’s plan to learn about the making of chocolate and becomes the connection for her to enter the Rowntree chocolate factory where she volunteers to work during the war, donating her wage to charity. It is there that she learns the intricacies and refinement of making chocolate. It is there that she slips a love note into a Chocolate Tin destined for a soldier, and signs it as ‘Kitty’. It is also there that she has an unexpected encounter with a dashing figure of a man, Captain Harry Blakeney, their mutual attraction undeniable.

As Alexandra and Harry spend precious time together, Alex discovers what it feels like to be in love, and becomes painfully aware that in her amicable marriage to Matthew, there seems to be something  amiss that is more than just love and affection. Purely by accident, Harry stumbles upon a secret: Matthew’s. One that will turn Alexandra’s world up-side-down…

I must admit, I proudly chose Fiona McIntosh’s novel, The Chocolate Tin, from the bookshelf at a quirky and wonderfully magical bookstore called The Mad Hatters Bookshop, simply because I absolutely adore chocolate, particularly Cadbury. But as I read the pages, Fiona McIntosh’s words weaved the magic of love through the characters, leaving me turning the pages and hungry for the story to unfold. There are plenty of twists and turns in this beautiful historical love story that will have you wanting to read the tale of forbidden love once again.

Title: The Chocolate Tin
ISBN: 9780143797067
Category: Contemporary fiction
Format: Paperback / softback
Publication Date: 31-10-2016
Publisher: Penguin Australia Pty Ltd
Country of origin: Australia
Edition: 1st Edition
Pages: 432

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Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, tea drinker, chocolate annihilator)

Member of:
Queensland Writers Centre
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Wombat Warriors – a book review




Wombat Warriors
by: Samantha Wheeler
Publisher: University of Queensland Press




Mouse by name, mouse by nature. Mouse is not prepared for her last-minute stay at Aunt Evie’s. How will she cope at a new school without her parents around?
But before Mouse has even unpacked her suitcase, she makes a new friend – a wombat called Miss Pearl! Suddenly, being in a strange cottage doesn’t seem so bad, especially when she can snuggle up with a wombat.

Mouse soon learns that not everyone in the area loves wombats, including Aunt Evie’s landlord, a sheep farmer who destroys them on sight.

Can Mouse find her voice in time to keep her furry friends safe?

You have a wombat for a pet? I don’t, but Aunt Evie does in Samantha Wheeler’s chapter book, Wombat Warriors.

Action packed from the first words, we follow a girl named Mouse as she comes to live with her Aunt Evie for six weeks, by necessity. The Brisbane city girl is thrown into a South Australian country setting, and has to quickly learn to adapt to the farm way of life, good and bad, happy and heartbreaking, challenging and rewarding.

Wombats are incredibly adorable creatures. And there is no doubt that you will love them even more when you meet Miss Pearl and read about her cheeky antics. Intrigue sets in however, after we meet farm boy, Harry. He has a secret he keeps close to his heart. Meanwhile, the main character, Mouse, who has a small voice but a very big heart, finds that her love for wombats helps her to break through her introverted nature to become a true wombat warrior.

This primary school age chapter book will have you turning the pages as you read the inspiring tale that has wildlife conservation at the heart. You will fall in love with three wombats: Miss Pearl, Willow and Fatticake, and their cute wombat-edness will find an extra-special place in your heart. Readers will be rolling their eyes at Aunt Evie and the way she always gets the end of clichés wrong. Plus there’s the cranky Mrs Campbell, who will keep you guessing about her behaviour until the end.

Author, Samantha Wheeler has cleverly woven wombat facts into her story, as well as adding a section at the back of the book called “WOMBAT-OLOGY”. Wombat Warriors is most definitely an exciting and thoroughly enjoyable book for all children, especially those who are animal lovers with a passion for conservation. I highly recommend this book for independent readers, shared reading, and for use in educational settings.

Purchase a copy of Wombat Warriors at:
Connect with Samantha Wheeler at:

Title: Wombat Warriors
by: Samantha Wheeler
Publisher: UQP
ISBN: 978 0 7022 5958 6
Category: Children’s & Young Adult
Pages: 192

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Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Editor, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)

Member of:
QLD Writers Centre
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The Whirlpool – a book review


Title: The Whirlpool
by: Emily Larkin
illustrated by: Helene Magisson
Publisher: Wombat Books



Life is full of brightness for one polar bear cub. But then shadows fall … and his world changes. The little cub must learn to hope again.

The Whirlpool is a beautiful story about feeling sad and happy, lonely and loved, small and big. This gentle, emotive tale will help children navigate their way through the ups and downs of life. There is a whirlpool in all of us.

The Whirlpool booktrailer:

One moment the world is your oyster, and in the next moment, the world swallows you whole. Author, Emily Larkin has created a poignant, simple story describing the emotional journey and turmoil that can follow children and adults alike in our walk in life. A polar bear cub is the main character in The Whirlpool. We follow his journey, feeling his joy and happiness at the world and people around him. Even the stars shine for him. He can’t put a foot wrong…

But then comes the whirlpool … closing in and pulling him down into the depths of sadness and loneliness, hiding the brightest stars. As time passes, a new star finally peeks out from the ocean sky. The polar bear cub smiles. It’s a new day.







Emily Larkin has approached the subject of ‘swirling’ emotions that a child may experience on their quest in life with a gentle, non-judgmental acceptance. Children will relate to the emotions of the polar bear cub in a non-threatening way, and may even think, ‘Hey – that’s me.’

A crucial part of this story is when the polar bear cub comes through the cycle of sad days, and inhales the colours around him again. The importance of this ending is significant, and can be healing, calming and overflowing with hope for children who feel that their sad days will never end.

Emily Larkin’s message to her readers is simple, but highly effective in the recognition and acknowledgement of life’s emotive journey. Children need to know that life is not always happy and fun. It can be full of blue days and sad times too, but these will pass.






Illustrator, Helene Magisson, has captured the changes of emotion in the story with her effective use of colour and changes in facial expressions on the polar bear cub. These elements reach out to the reader and touch the heart, creating a bond and empathy.


In a world of darkness and light, inside and outside of ourselves, The Whirlpool is a welcome story that may help children feel they are not so alone after all, and on the inside, we all feel the same way at different times in our lives. The Whirlpool’s value in open discussions about our inner emotions is considerable, and may lift the weight of life’s journey from some children, and help them to see the stars and breathe the colours around them again.

Purchase a copy of The Whirlpool:

Connect with Emily Larkin at:

Connect with Helene Magisson at:

Author: Emily Larkin
Illustrator: Helene Magisson
ISBN: 978-1-925563-04-7
RRP: 24.99
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Wombat Books

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Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Editor, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)

Member of:
QLD Writers Centre
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The FIX-It Man – a book review

The FIX-IT Man
Book Review




Title: The FIX-IT Man
Author:  Dimity Powell
Illustrator: Nicky Johnston
Publisher: EK Books



When things break, who do you get to fix them?
The Fix-It Man of course!
It’s handy having a dad who can fix just about anything. But what happen to broken hearts when sticky tape and super glue are not enough?
Together, a young girl and her father face grief and heartache, and discover that love can sometimes be the best glue of all.

The Fix-It Man book trailer:

We all have things that need fixing. But there are some things that can’t be fixed, like terminal illness. Death is often a subject left unspoken. And even more so when it is the loss of a parent for a young child or teenager. Author, Dimity Powell, has written a poignant story that weaves the themes of love and loss in a gentle and sensitive way.

Grief comes in many forms but the glue that holds everyone together is love. And that is what the father and daughter  have to help each other through the passing of the wife and mother. In the first half of the book, the father is busy fixing things, and he can fix anything – except illness. In the midst of despair after the loss of life, the daughter is the one who reaches out to her father.

The FIX-IT Man is a book of understanding and acceptance of emotions in the grieving process. This book portrays that together, people can reach out and journey through the grief with one another.

Illustrator, Nicky Johnston, has captured the tone and expressions of the characters in the story with perfection. Even the broken household items reflect the breaking of hearts as the terminal illness of the mother takes hold. The grey textless page of loss speaks volumes, and has an unspoken understanding with the gentleness that is required.

The FIX-IT Man is not just for kids. It’s for grown-ups too – I believe it reaches out to two, even three generations in the cycle of life, whispering the roles of helping each other through difficult times.

Purchase a copy:

Author, Dimity Powell
Illustrator, Nicky Johnston

Title: The Fix-It Man
Author: Dimity Powell
Illustrator: Nicky Johnston
Age Range: 5 – 8 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 3
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: EK Books (March 1, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1925335348
ISBN-13: 978-1925335347

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Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, author, illustrator, editor, tea ninja & Cadbury chocolate annihilator)

Member of:
QLD Writer’s Centre
Write Links
Share Your Story