Book Reviews · Cookbook

Cookbook Review: More With Less

Overview

I have * a bit of * an obsession with cookbooks. I love reading them, buying them, checking them out from the library- and recently, I’ve started to really enjoy reviewing them. I received a digital advanced ready copy of More with Less by Jodi Moreno a few months ago, and I’m delighted to say that it’s a brilliant addition to my cookbook collection.

Jodi’s cooking is mostly plant-based, though she does use the occasional egg, pat of butter or dollop of yoghurt. Her recipes are innovative but simple- most can be on the table within 30 minutes, and very few contain ingredients you wouldn’t be able to source at a local grocery store.

Her cookbook is organised by a mix of meals and ingredients, which I initially found a bit odd, but it makes sense for the purposes of this book. There are chapters for breakfast, soup, salad, nibbles and snacks, veggie entrees, fish, and dessert. I obviously skipped over the fish section, and none of the desserts got me all that excited, but I’ve already marked loads of recipes from the breakfast and soup sections.

Some of the recipes don’t have serving sizes, which might have just been a result of my having a digital copy, but was still frustrating, because I am a firm believer in meal planning, and it’s difficult to do that if you have no idea how many people a recipe serves.

Recipes

For the purposes of this review, I cooked 3 of the recipes from the book:

  • Curried Sweet Potato and Yellow Split Pea Stew with Crispy Shallots
  • Hot Chocolate with Tahini and Cinnamon and Star Anise
  • Coconut and Ginger and Turmeric Oats

Below are my thoughts on how they turned out.

Curried Sweet Potato and Yellow Split Pea Stew with Crispy Shallots

I love making a big pot of soup for lunches, and I’m always looking for more lentil recipes, so I thought this recipe would be perfect to try out. Roasting and then mashing the sweet potatoes is a bit of a faff, but other than that it’s an easy one-pot meal. Sadly, however, it was pretty flavourless. I had to add more lemon juice, more salt, more curry powder, plus some turmeric and garlic powder to make this palatable. Curries only work if there’s a real complex depth of flavour, and this just didn’t have that.

Hot Chocolate with Tahini and Cinnamon and Star Anise

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This is my new go-to hot chocolate recipe. I was very sceptical about mixing tahini and chocolate together– despite tahini’s status as the newest ‘hot’ ingredient, I still think of it mostly as an ingredient for hummus, but oh ye of little faith. This drink was THE BOMB. Perfectly rich, thick, and, because the tahini I bought from Lidl had honey added, it was also just sweet enough. If you can’t find tahini with honey added (which is likely, since this is the first time I’ve ever seen it), I’d suggest adding a teaspoon (or four) of agave nectar to this to balance out the dark chocolate and the savouriness of the tahini.

Coconut and Ginger and Turmeric Oats

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Again, I was sceptical about this one. Turmeric and oats? Um… I’ll happily guzzle all the turmeric lattes and golden milk you can give me, but I’m picky about my oats. But again, I shouldn’t have worried! This dish was so warm and comforting. I made it on a snowy weekend morning, and it was the perfect thing to curl up with. The turmeric and ginger added a subtle spice, and the coconut milk made the oats even more filling and moreish.

Verdict

All in all, I’d recommend this cookbook. More with Less by Jodi Moreno is a great cookbook if you’re looking for innovative, easy meals, and it’s also a great read if you’re looking for some cooking inspiration. The gorgeous photographs and simple recipes make it well worth a purchase.

The book comes out tomorrow, April 24, so order now!

 

 

 

 

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Book Reviews · Historical Romance

Book Review: My Once and Future Duke by Caroline Linden

My Once and Future Duke Blog Tour Banner 1000

You know what I love about blog tours? They introduce me to authors I’ve been meaning to read for ages, and then make me fall so in love with their books that I immediately try to check out their entire back catalogue from the library (thankfully, it’s a digital library, so my bookshelves aren’t bowing under all the weight).

This is EXACTLY what happened with Caroline Linden’s newest historical romance. Scroll on for the book info, a juicy excerpt, author information, and of course, my review!

Book Info.

My Once And Future Duke by Caroline Linden

Series The Wagers of Sin

Genre Adult Historical Romance

Publisher Avon Books

Publication Date February 27, 2018

Amazon http://amzn.to/2E6dbcx

Avon Romance https://goo.gl/wuBja3

Barnes & Noble https://goo.gl/mYqVmB

Google Play https://goo.gl/4aLVCw

iBooks https://apple.co/2E6YYvJ

 

Excerpt

“Why did you propose that wager?”

He leaned forward, elbows on his knees, and looked down at her. His golden hair was rumpled into waves that made her long to smooth it. “Haven’t you guessed?”

She angled her face toward him. “Tell me. I’m no good at guessing.”

He let out his breath, his eyes shadowed, and then he bent and kissed her. His mouth was soft against hers, a gentle hint of a kiss rather than a real one. A soft sound of pleasure hummed in her throat.

The duke lifted his head. For a moment they stared at each other. “Is that all?” Sophie whispered, belatedly realizing how her heart was thudding. “All you want?”

“No.” He traced one finger, as lightly as a feather, down her throat. A shiver rippled over her skin. “Not by a tenth.”

“Show me,” she whispered. “Please.”

 

ReviewMy Once and Future Duke by Caroline Linden

4.0 stars

This book had all my catnip: forced proximity; grumpy, sexy dukes; sexually experienced heroines with life goals they’re steadily working toward; and strong female friendships. I love that Sophie picks herself up by her metaphorical bootstraps despite life throwing her like 10 curveballs and that she does it with the support of two of her best friends. I also love that Jack’s family life is a little complicated, but he tries to navigate it with an equal amount of respect for his mother and brother, and himself.

I also LOVED the gambling scenes. Linden did such an amazing job setting the scene that it felt like I was there, watching Sophie roll the dice and wow everyone around her with her ‘luck’ (aka extreme maths skills). I just wish that she and Jack could have had sex in one of the lush, velvet-filled rooms in the club, because this book did not have enough sex scenes in it, especially given that the characters were so sexually attracted to each other. Yes, there are some amazing scenes of them at the Duke’s castle, where the forced proximity makes them realise that ‘oh, wait a minute, you’re, like, really really hot?’, but I would have loved even more scenes of them once they got back to London and realised they still couldn’t keep their hands off each other.

The conflict was perfect in this book. Not overly dramatic, fits in perfectly with the characters and plot, and had me biting my nails through the whole thing, even though I knew the HEA was just up ahead.

Other than the dearth of sexytimes, my only real criticism for this book is the lack of explanation of Jack’s relationship with his ex-sweetheart, Portia. Linden never really makes any connection between Portia’s ill-treatment of Jack and Jack’s relationship with Sophie, which seems the only real point of mentioning Portia in the first place. Her effect on Jack’s life is, thereforem unclear.

This book, however, was still pretty great. I’ve been really struggling to find historicals that really draw me in and make me want to keep turning the pages way after the lights have gone out, and this book definitely gave me that. Read it for the insane sexual attraction between the characters, the family drama, the friendships, the strong female heroine- basically, just read it!

 

Author Info.Caroline Linden

Caroline Linden was born a reader, not a writer. She earned a math degree from Harvard University and wrote computer code before discovering that writing fiction was far more fun. Since then, the Boston Red Sox have won the World Series three times, which is not related but still worth mentioning. Her books have been translated into seventeen languages, and have won the NEC-RWA Reader’s Choice Award, the Daphne du Maurier Award, the NJRW Golden Leaf Award, and RWA’s RITA Award. She lives in New England.

Website http://carolinelinden.com/
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCarolineLinden
Twitter https://twitter.com/Caro_Linden
Goodreads https://goo.gl/Uavhvc
Amazon http://amzn.to/2DvX7ja

 

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Blog · Book Reviews · Historical Romance

Book Review: The Trouble with True Love by Laura Lee Guhrke

Laura Lee Guhrke will always hold a special place in my heart. I read Guilty Pleasures by her during that first fateful summer when I began reading romance. I remember reading this book on my Kindle on a warm summer day in early July, sitting under a willow tree and devouring chapter after chapter. Don’t you love book memories?

Now on to the juicy stuff!

Book Synopsis

Dear Lady Truelove, I am a girl of noble family, but I am painfully shy, especially in my encounters with those of the opposite sex . . .

For Clara Deverill, standing in for the real Lady Truelove means dispensing advice on problems she herself has never managed to overcome. There’s nothing for it but to retreat to a tearoom and hope inspiration strikes between scones. It doesn’t—until Clara overhears a rake waxing eloquent on the art of “honourable” jilting. The cad may look like an Adonis, but he’s about to find himself on the wrong side of Lady Truelove.

Rex Galbraith is an heir with no plans to produce a spare. He flirts with the minimum number of eligible young ladies to humour his matchmaking aunt, but Clara is the first to ever catch his roving eye. When he realizes that Clara—as Lady Truelove—has used his advice as newspaper fodder, he’s infuriated. But when he’s forced into a secret alliance with her, he realizes he’s got a much bigger problem—because Clara is upending everything Rex thought he knew about women—and about himself. . .

Book Info.35068598

The Trouble With True Love by Laura Lee Guhrke
Series: none (standalone)
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: January 30, 2018

Review
To preface this review, this week has been INSANE. Like 3 other book reviews, 6 freelance articles, plus 40 hours of normal work kind of insane. So I haven’t finished this book yet. I have, however, enjoyed 157 pages of it, and from that, I can tell you that this is a book you should go read ASAP.

The chemistry between Clara and Rex is crazy-hot and palpable, and I was rooting for their HEA from the moment they first touched while dancing in the ballroom. Rex’s character is so intriguing- he’s not the normal rake we see so often in romance. Sure, he’s sexy as hell, but he’s also generous, sensitive, and has a normal amount of emotional depth (compared to so many other historical heroes whose only two emotions seem to be: growly anger and get-in-my-pants lust). Clara is shy but fierce, and I love that she comes to life with Rex, giving him all the sass he deserves.

Despite my love of historical romance, I’ll admit to not exploring many historical romance eras outside of the regency. But after seeing how dramatic and gripping the 20th century can be with the right writer, I’m definitely going to explore more of this sub-genre. Plus, you know, the skirts are less poofy in that era, so it’s way easier to get down to business.

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Blog · Book Reviews · Cookbook

Review: Simply Vibrant by Anya Kassoff

Those of you who have seen my Instagram probably know by now that I don’t subscribe to any specific kind of plant-based eating. I don’t classify foods as “bad” or “good”, and I find just as much pleasure from Chocolate Oreos as I do from salads. Therefore, you might be wondering why I’m reviewing a cookbook that touts itself as “seasonal, clean, and nourishing” when I don’t give the “clean eating” movement much attention.

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I requested a copy of Simply Vibrant on Edelweiss+ because I’m always looking for new, exciting recipes, and I’m trying to be a bit better about cooking with different vegetables (I tend to use the same ones over and over again– broccoli, looking at you here). Many of Kassoff’s recipe ideas are inspired and look absolutely delicious, thanks to the excellent photographs included in the book, but I was a put off by the number of expensive ingredients included in both the recipes and the list of Kassoff’s pantry staples. While I won’t turn my nose at black rice, quinoa, or almond butter, those ingredients can be expensive, and I would have loved to see some cheaper substitution suggestions included in the book.

Now, on to the recipes. I chose 2 recipes to try in my kitchen: the Strawberry and Rhubarb Oven Pancake and the Baked Potato Latkes. Since it’s February in Ireland, there was not a stalk of rhubarb to be had, and the strawberries at the Lidl looked sad and artificial, so I subbed in some mango from the local Asian grocery store, wholemeal flour for the whole wheat spelt, and I have to admit, this recipe was damn tasty. I love pancakes, but sometimes I don’t want to spend half an hour at the stove flipping one batch after another, so this is the perfect solution for those weekends when I want pancakes without all the effort. I’m excited to try this out with actual strawberry and rhubarb, as well, though the basic pancake recipe would work well with many different fruits. IMG_0081

I was a bit more sceptical about the outcome of the Baked Potato Latkes. The only thing binding them together was flax seed meal, and while I’ve seen recipes before that only used the starch from the potatoes themselves to bind the latkes together for frying, I wasn’t sure that it would work quite the same in the oven. But I was wrong! These latkes were perfectly crisp on the outside, soft and warm on the inside, with a pleasing lemon flavour. They definitely took a bit longer than just frying the latkes, but again, there’s no standing in front of the stove with this recipe, which freed me up to do other things in the kitchen.IMG_0080

My Kindle copy of this cookbook did have some glitches with the formatting– ingredient lists were on the wrong page, for example. Overall, the book was well-structured, though, and I love that Kassoff notes which season each recipe should be used in,   making it easy for you to find a recipe to suit the plethora of grapes, for example, that your local CSA might stick you with.

I’ll definitely be cooking from this book again, but I’ll be using my own substitutions for spelt flour, maple syrup, quinoa because while I love the recipe ideas in this book, I do not love an astronomical grocery bill.

 

Blog · Book Reviews · Historical Romance

Book Review: Midsummer Delights

Eloisa James, aka Mary Bly, was one of the first romance authors I ever read, so her titles hold a special place in my heart. Though her last few books haven’t wowed me the way that her Fairy Tales and Desperate Duchesses series did (see my review of Wilde in Love for Love in a Time of Feminism), she’s still one of my favourite authors, so when I got the email that Pure Textuality was organising a blog tour of Midsummer Delights, a collection of short stories, I jumped at the chance to review the book.

Book Info.Midsummer Delights by Eloisa James

Publication Date February 6, 2018

Midsummer Delights by Eloisa James

Series A Short Story Collection

Genre Adult Historical Romance

Publisher Avon Impulse

Amazon  http://amzn.to/2E4ooc3

Avon Romance   https://goo.gl/KYj3YP

Barnes & Noble  https://goo.gl/NYTGbz

Google Play  https://goo.gl/AijSyN

Walmart  https://goo.gl/SxiSTQ

iBooks  https://apple.co/2COtlXk

Review

This book contains three short stories about heroines and heroes finding a happily ever after with people they’ve known since childhood. The problem with short stories, especially in romance, is that it can be very difficult to adequately build up the relationship between the hero and heroine enough that the HEA seems believable, rather than just the de facto ending to all romance. Such was the case with the first and second stories in this collection. There just weren’t enough details about Cecilia and Theo to make their VERY SUDDEN falling in love and proposal at all believable. Theo also basically tells Cecilia he’s glad her brother has been bullied so much that it has ruined Cecilia’s prospects and caused her brother to retire to the country, because it meant that no one offered for her and he was free to scoop her up, so to speak. There are so many things wrong with this, but here are a few: 1. Theo is happy that Cecilia’s brother suffered what sounds like truly traumatic teasing and harassment because it means he gets to marry his lady love, so he’s obviously a selfish cock 2. Cecilia says NOTHING in response to Theo’s jerky comments and instead just gazes dreamily at him 3. From the sounds of it, Cecilia and Theo didn’t even get along well as children and adolescents, and she previously describes him as pudgy and spotty, yet somehow he’s been pining for her for years, and the minute she finds out he’s a talented musician, she’s ready to throw caution to the wind and fly off into the sunset with him? WHAT?! Theo then ends by saying that Billy, Cecilia’s brother, can live with them because he feels bad for him, and Cecilia again just acquiesces to his every word. Ugh.

The second story in this collection also suffers from a lack of adequate background details and an overall badly written plot. Elias is in love with Penny and has been his whole life, which his best friend also knows, yet his best friend is about to marry Penny, who is also ready to marry him, even though it turns out that Penny has also been in love with Elias for as long as he has been in love with her? WHAT! Are Elia’s BFF and Penny just jerks? If they truly cared about Elias, wouldn’t they just tell him to hang the manly pride that kept him from offering for Penny because oh hey, Penny feels the same way as he does! The friendship between Elias, Penny, and Reggie also needs way more background to make it believable. The only detail from their childhood mentioned is Penny beating Reggie up and Elias saving him.

The third story in this collection, however, is well-written, with a believable ending thanks to the ample background details we get about the hero and heroine that make their love totally honest and awesome to see come to fruition. Violet also takes absolutely no shit from Rothwell, refusing to bow to his charms and graces when he’s spent the last four years ignoring her, despite the strong connection and passionate kisses they shared as teenagers. Also, the sex scenes in this story are utterly delightful and very hot, and, the best part, Violet isn’t a virgin! Hurrah for non-virgin heroines. The regency needs more of them!

My only other criticism of this story collection is that in all three stories, the hero and heroine go out into the garden alone, and we all know that in the regency that is. not. done. unless you want to start a scandal that will have anxious mamas and ladies of the ton swooning where they stand. It’s one thing if the hero and heroine steal away to the garden for some illicit smooching, but they wouldn’t just walk out, calm as you please! I was pretty shocked when this happened because I always associate Eloisa James with thoroughly researched books.

So, if you’re going to pick up this book, stick to the last story, and the sneak peak of the next installation in the Wildes of Lindow Castle series, which looks SO JUICY and is high on my TBR.

 

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Audiobook · Blog · Book Reviews · Jane Austen

Book Review: Emma by Jane Austen, Read by Juliet Stevenson

Note: this review is of the narration for this novel, rather than the content of the novel because I believe that all of Jane Austen’s oeuvre is perfect.

I, like millions of other people, love Jane Austen. She’s witty, smart, and her characters are so full of life and real, their conversations and mannerisms reminiscent of people we’ve all met in our daily lives. I do, however, find it difficult to read some of her books in paper format. I stopped and started a51Z6zgc9KPL._SL500__AC_PIAdblRomanceBadge88px,TopRight,0,0_US500_QL100_ paper version of Emma at least twice, and only found myself truly drawn in by the story when I began listening to it on audiobook.

The benefit of listening to classic novels on audiobook is that hearing the lines acted out helps me navigate the antiquated language and visualise the scenes, something I have trouble doing with older novels in paper format. Juliet Stevenson does a masterful job of giving each character in this book their own particular voice, bringing the book to life in a magnificent way that had me finding every opportunity possible to keep listening. Her rendition of Ms Bates, in particular, is hilarious and spot-on, exactly how I would imagine she would speak. The characters of Mr Woodhouse and Mrs Elton come to life as well, and her narration makes the story so much richer and deeper, and so much more enjoyable than it already was, which is saying quite a lot! Thankfully she also narrates Mansfield Park, Persuasion, and Sense and Sensibility, as well as North and South, and Wuthering Heights, all on my TBR list for this year.

If, like me, you are an Austen fan but struggle to bring that world to life when reading, let Juliet Stevenson take you a journey of jealousy, misapprehension, and, of course, love.

Blog · Book Reviews · Contemporary Romance

Book Review: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

This book. THIS BOOK. I flew through this book earlier this week, ignoring work and staying up way too late to get through chapter after chapter, and nearly cried out “YES!!!” at the HEA. Things I love about it:

-the setting is subtle; I normally love world-building even in my contemporaries so I can really sink my teeth into the story, but this book’s lack of a clear setting makes it so much easier to focus on the relationship between the characters25883848

-Lucy is a confident, driven, badass heroine who takes no shade from her arch nemesis-turned-true-love, Josh

-Lucy’s boss, Helene, is incredibly supportive and the complete opposite of the Dragon Lady archetype I so often see in books set in/around workplaces with female bosses

-Lucy is the seducer in this book, making her feelings towards Josh clearly known, and mostly unabashedly so

-Josh is a vulnerable, shy, self-conscious supportive hero

-Josh loves Lucy’s ambition

-the sexual buildup is INSANE

-this book combines two of my favourite tropes: enemies-to-lovers and forced proximity

This is probably one of the best contemporaries I’ve ever read. I love how openly feminist it is, I love that Josh is an atypical beta hero, and I love that Lucy loves her body and eats donuts and cheese with abandon.  I can’t wait to read Sally Thorne’s other works, and I now completely get why everyone has been freaking out about this book. GO READ THIS RIGHT NOW.