Books

The Berkeley Bowl Cookbook by Laura McLively via #NetGalley #Review #Vegetarian

 

Review

Berkeley Bowl Cover

The Berkeley Bowl Cookbook

Recipes Inspired by the Extraordinary Produce of California’s Most Iconic Market

by Laura McLively

Release date: April 17th, 2018

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Berkeley Bowl Cookbook
Recipes Inspired by the Extraordinary Produce of California’s Most Iconic Market
by Laura McLively from NetGalley and Parallax Press in order to read and give an honest review.

Loved this cookbook! It’s nice to bring Californian cuisine to Toronto Canada.  This book was full of amazing vegetarian recipes with unique ingredients, easy to follow instructions, beautiful coloured photographs, and creative seasonal menus.

Although some of the ingredients aren’t found in your average grocery store I was able to find them at a local Asian grocery store. Even if you can’t obtain the ingredients easily, one of the things that impressed me about this book was the fact it gave you a few suitable and easily available substitutions. I was also fond of the fact it categorized the recipes by the type of vegetable you’re using I.e. Leaves; Flower, Seeds and Pods; Spores and Succulents; Stems; Roots and Tubers; and Sweet and Savory Fruit instead of the appetizers, entrees etc.

I recommend this to anyone looking for a culinary adventure! It has something to suit every vegetarians’ taste. With dishes such as Sweet & Sour Tofu with Gooseberries, Indian Stuffed Eggplant and my new favorite dessert, Lemongrass Coconut Ice Cream you can’t go wrong! 

Advertisements
Books

#Review of  The King of Bones and Ashes (Witches of New Orleans) by J.D. Horn #UrbanFantasy #Gothic

 

Book Cover King of Bone and Ashes

Review

 The King of Bones and Ashes (Witches of New Orleans) 

by J.D. Horn

Release date: January 23rd, 2018

🌟🌟🌟🌟


I received a complimentary ARC copy of The King of Bones and Ashes (Witches of New Orleans) by J.D. Horn from NetGalley in order to read and give an honest review.

The King of Bones and Ashes was the first in a new series from Author J.D. Horn.  Although I haven’t read his first series “Witching Savannah” I have heard good things and was intrigued when I read the description of his new book

The King of Bones and Ashes is a fascinating and suspenseful supernatural story set in New Orleans. This novel has a bit of everything, it is a combination family drama, southern gothic and urban fantasy which although slow to build, keeps you captivated from page one to the very end.  J.D. Horn has graced us with such strong, unique and multifaceted characters you connect with them within the first few chapters.

The story opens during Katrina, then jumps to modern day where we meet three unique and interesting women, three witches to be exact, all of whom are from different families yet connected through their family’s magic. We meet Alice, a girl who has been locked in an asylum for years, Evangeline an owner of a strip club who once dated Alice’s now deceased brother and Lisette the daughter of a famous Voodoo practitioner who has taken over the family’s voodoo shop.  We also meet a great deal of other interesting characters both good and evil (and even feline) who come alive on the page and leave a definite impression on the reader. Perhaps the most mysterious and disturbing character is the creature who haunts Alice, Babau Jean (“the boogeyman”), a childhood legend who becomes very, very real.   When magic appears to be dying and many elder witches are losing their powers these three witches remain as strong as ever. Each of them remains low key and try to hide their abilities but everyone suspects they are more than capable. When Alice’s grandfather, the main patriarch, and head of most powerful coven dies, there is a desperate attempt from the elder witches to usurp his magic.  Murder, mayhem, and secrets come to the surface putting everyone in danger, especially Alice, Evangeline, and Lisette.  Add that to sacred texts, warring witches, feisty felines, bitchy birds and hidden realms and you’re faced with a book to be read with the lights on.

I recommend this to anyone looking for something a little different, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. I’m looking forward to reading the next in this series and now more than ever I’m motivated to check out his Witching Savannah series.

Books

#Review of The Lost Plot(The Invisible Library #4) by Genevieve Cogman #UrbanFantasy #TimeTravel

Review

The Lost Plot (The Invisible Library #4)

by Genevieve Cogman

Release date: January 9th, 2018

🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Lost Plot Cover


I received a complimentary ARC copy of  The Lost Plot by Genevieve Cogman (The Invisible Library #4) from NetGalley in order to read and give an honest review.

This is the fourth book in Genevieve Cogman’s Invisible Library series and I have to say it was perhaps my favourite.  Travelling through time and dimensions librarian Irene along with her assistant Kai find themselves in New York City during the 1920’s a time of prohibition, gangsters, and guns.  This time they face their toughest assignment yet, walking a fine line between dragon and fae politics.  When the Minister of the dragons dies a contest to fill the spot requires them to find a rare book. The challenge issued will give the winner power over the land and the contenders both approach Irene for assistance. Dragon politics is contentious at best, and the library has always maintained a neutral stance but when evidence points to the involvement of a librarian breaching that rule, Irene and Kai must find this rogue librarian. They are given carte blanche to investigate but must do so covertly and without the official backing of the library. If they are discovered, the library will deny all knowledge of the mission, leaving Irene and Kai alone to suffer the consequences. When murder and mayhem ensue, raising tensions place Irene and Kai right in the middle as well as putting the library in jeopardy.

I really enjoyed this entry in the Invisible Library series and would highly recommend it. In my opinion, it had it all, wonderful character development, intriguing plot lines and fast-paced action.  My one complaint was a lack of one of my favorite characters, Vale, hoping to see more of him in the next installment.  The Lost Plot also ended with a game-changing situation that has me curious as to where the next book in the series will go.😊

 

Books

#Review of A Mortal Likeness (#Victorian #Mystery No.2) by Laura Joh Rowland

 

A Mortal Likeness

(#Victorian #Mystery No.2)

by Laura Joh Rowland

Release date: January 9th, 2018

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

A Mortal Likeness Cover


I received a complimentary ARC copy of A Mortal Likeness (#Victorian #Mystery No.2) by Laura Joh Rowland from NetGalley & Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.

A fast-paced, suspenseful whodunit set in Victorian England, A Mortal Likeness, will keep you on the edge of your seat.  I read and reviewed book one, The Ripper’s Shadow last year and found this one to be just as enjoyable.

In this story, we join photographer Sarah Bain and the disgraced Lord Hugh Staunton after the fallout of solving the Jack the Ripper case. Hugh, short on cash after being disowned by his wealthy family persuades Sarah to open a detective agency. With funds running low they are at the mercy of whichever cases fall in their lap.  While working on a case investigating a philandering husband, they are thrust into a high-profile case which although paying well will throw them into peril at every turn.

The wealthy and influential Gerald Mariner frustrated with the lack of progress by the police in solving the kidnapping of his son Robin Mariner hires them to solve the crime. Broke and in need of cash they accept the case but Sir Mariner has one caveat, they are to tell no one they are working on the case. Although Hugh is nonplussed about it, Sarah is uncomfortable lying to her police constable lover who has been assigned to the case. There also may be connections to Sarah’s supposedly dead father whom she sees in the background of some surveillance photos she’s taken.  Sir Gerald, is convinced that the kidnapping is an inside job and invites them to stay on his estate to investigate. With emotions running high and a killer under the same roof, they are met with hostility and distrust. To make matters worse the other officer on the case had his career damaged on the Jack the Ripper case, partly thanks to Sarah and Hugh, has a vendetta against them and will not rest until he can pin the kidnapping on them.

I thoroughly enjoyed the twists, turns which lead up to a surprising but very satisfying ending. I would wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone who loves a good mystery.

Books

#Review of Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire #UrbanFantasy #ModernFairytale

BeneaththeSugarSkyCover

Review

Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3)

by Seanan McGuire

Release date: January 9th, 2018

🌟🌟🌟🌟


I received a complimentary ARC copy of Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3) by Seanan McGuire from NetGalley and Tor in order to read and give an honest review.

Seanan McGuire is definitely one of my favorite fantasy authors. Her books have it all, perfect prose, masterful plots, exciting worlds and engaging characters and the same is true for her Wayward Children series. This dark and whimsical series like all of her work is so well written that it grabs hold of you and takes you twisting and turning into fascinating new worlds. McGuire addresses, race, sexuality, religion, illness, disabilities, mental health etc. and handles it with such nuance.  Her characters are multifaceted and each face personal challenges that so many can relate to.  

The series revolves around students housed at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.  The Home for Wayward Children is a safe haven for children who have traveled to different portal worlds so different from their own. The other worlds are nothing like our world, some are underwater worlds, worlds made of confection, worlds of death, some are logical ones with order and others nonsense worlds, where chaos is plenty and rules don’t apply. Often when the children return to this world they are lost or traumatized, their parents unable to help them and at a loss, send them to the home. Often, these children long to go back, biding their time waiting for the opportunity when the door back reveals itself again or actively searching looking for clues. 

In this story, we hear from characters from the previous award-winning “Every Heart a Doorway” and we get to meet Cora. Cora, overweight and insecure, came to the home from an underwater world where she enjoyed being a mermaid. Cora although worried at first, finds she fits in just fine at the home, each of the students so unique in their own way.  As Cora is getting used to the home, a girl falls from the sky looking for her mother, a former student who had passed away recently.  The group band together to help her embark on a quest to find her mother, through time and multiple worlds, the reader catches glimpses of the group’s experiences as they travel through the different doors. 

I have loved each book in this series and as a series, it is definitely 5-star.  However, I would give this story 4.5 stars only because I found that some things seemed a bit unnecessary and detracted from the story. Information on the logical, nonsense aspects of the worlds as well as Cora’s insecurities kept re-appearing a little too often for me, but reading is subjective and others might not mind it as much.   All in all, this was a fantastic book, and I highly recommend it.  

Books

Review of The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley #Fantasy #HistoricalFiction

Review

The Bedlam Stacks

by Natasha Pulley

Release date: August 1st, 2017

Bedlam Stacks Cover

🌟🌟🌟🌟


I received a complimentary ARC copy of  The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley from NetGalley in order to read and give an honest review.

To start off with The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley is a well written, complex and captivating story which, I  found intriguing and thoroughly enjoyed. To me, this is a book unlike any other I have read, which is saying a great deal. Although it is hard to define if I were to generalize I would say it’s a mixture of historical fiction and fantasy.

Set in the 19th century, the protagonist, former East Indian Trading company smuggler, Merrick Tremayne, is living a dismal life with his brother in a dilapidated estate in Cornwall. Left with a bad leg, Merrick seems to have given up on life, enduring bizarre and difficult circumstances bound to push him to the edge. At his lowest point, he is offered an opportunity to go on an adventure. After an outbreak of malaria and a shortage of quinine, the East Indian Trading Company contact Merrick about going on an expedition to Peru to acquire cinchona cuttings so that they can produce their own quinine supply. The Peruvian Government has a monopoly on the quinine trade and is very protective of their crops which potentially will make this expedition a very dangerous one. Although dangerous, with the encouragement of his friend Clem and wife Minna, as well as a family connection to Bedlam, Merrick agrees to go. Once in Peru, Merrick and Clem are guided to Bedlam (New Bethlehem) by a priest, Raphael. Without giving away too much, their trip to Bedlam takes strange twists and turns leading the reader on a fantastic journey rich with folklore, myths, and magic.

Natasha Pulley has done an exquisite job with this novel, full of fantastic imagery, characters that come to life, rich, well-researched world building and beautiful and flawless prose. My only criticism is that it did move at a slow pace at times making it difficult to get into but by midpoint, I felt the story beautifully unfold and was so glad I persevered. The Bedlam Stacks is not a quick read but in my opinion is definitely one that should be savoured and enjoyed.

Books

Review of Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

Cover Down Among the Sticks and Bones

Review

Down Among the Sticks and Bones

by Seanan McGuire

Release date: June 13, 2017

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


I received a complimentary ARC copy of Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire  from NetGalley in order to read and give an honest review.

Seanan McGuire is definitely one of my favourite fantasy authors. Her books have it all, perfect prose, masterful plots, exciting worlds and engaging characters and the same is true with her Wayward Children series.
Among the Stick and Bones is the second story and a prequel to Every Heart A Doorway. Among the Sticks and Bones shares the events that led sisters Jack and Jill to Miss West’s Home for Wayward Children.

We first meet parents Chester and Selena Wolcott, more concerned with social status and proper appearances than raising twins Jacqueline (Jack) and Jillian (Jill). To them, the twins are nothing more than accessories which they form and mold into their “perfect children”.  Seanan McGuire is never shy in addressing tough themes such as emotional abuse and gender equality, I for one applaud her for that and in this book she tackles them head on. As Jack and Jill get older they begin to get resentful and frustrated with the other. Jack molded to assume the “girly girl” role and Jill the “tom boy” begin to become overwhelmingly jealous of the other.

When a rainy day forces the twins to spend time together, out of boredom they decide to play in an attic where a mysterious staircase appears. When the girls descend the staircase, they enter into another world filled with conflict, creatures and danger. Upon arriving in the new world, they soon learn that things are not as they seem. The story follows both girls in the “new world” for a period of five years. Jill living as a princess in the castle with “the Master” while Jack takes on the difficult and often gruesome work as the Doctor’s apprentice. We begin to see the girls evolve away from their “formed” personalities and through a bizarre occurrence of events, they transform into their new roles.

I read both books out of order but enjoyed them both. I’m not sure whether reading them out of order would matter but I personally found that by reading the prequel first, I viewed Jack and Jill with a bit more empathy in Every Heart. I also think there was more of a surprise and sense of urgency, I needed to read Every Heart a Doorway to find out what happened to the girls.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone wanting to go on an adventure.