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!
The Bone Curse
(Benjamin Oris #1)
by Carrie Rubin
Release date: March 27th, 2018
Part thriller, part paranormal mystery, this is a fast-paced, well-crafted and brilliantly original novel!
Pragmatic medical student, Ben Oris, is on vacation with his best friend Laurette, a Haitian medical student, when an injury occurs while visiting the Catacombs. Ben possessed by unseen forces accidentally cuts his hand on a centuries-old bone, a cut that puts Ben and all those he holds dear in a life and death battle with evil forces too irrational for his rational mind to believe. Laurette knows that something evil is following Ben but it challenges his logical, scientific mind putting their friendship and lives in peril.
The book weaves a tale through medical anomalies, Haitian Vodou and the bonds of family and friendship which culminates in a heart-stopping conclusion. The characters are interesting, quirky and believable which when combined with an intriguing plot will keep you turning the pages until the wee hours of the morning.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I found this to be unique and captivating and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good thriller with an occult twist. I’m definitely looking forward to reading Carrie Rubin’s next Benjamin Oris book!
by Melissa F. Olson
Release date: February 13th, 2018
I received a complimentary ARC copy of Shadow Hunt (Disrupted Magic #3) by Melissa F. Olson from NetGalley in order to read and give an honest review.
The last book of the Disrupted Trilogy and the end of Scarlett’s second series picks up immediately after the second book, Blood Gamble left off. Weeks after the events in Las Vegas and the death of Jamieson, another Null she finds out she is pregnant with his child. A rare occurrence, Scarlett is dealing with the aftermath of finding out that after years of believing it was impossible she is, in fact, going to have a baby, the baby of two very powerful Nulls. Scarlett tries to keep the pregnancy under wraps until she learns more about her options and the consequences of having a null child. Not knowing who to turn to she sneaks out of town to consult with Maven, an ancient Vampire she feels might be able to give her advice. Leaving her bargest, Shadow, at home and in the care of Jesse she is on her way, not knowing the danger she is leaving them to face. Jesse opens the door to an innocent looking visitor which launches an evil plot by Shadow’s former owners, the Luparii who come to retrieve what’s theirs and put their plan into motion. The Luparrii’s see Scarlett as a threat and will do everything in their power to see her destroyed. After her secret is outted, Scarlett teams up with werewolves, vamps, witches and humans to stand with against the magical Wild Hunt which that would ultimately end the world as they know it.
I really enjoyed Shadow Hunt. It gives us a character-driven, fast-paced and complex storyline that you’ll want to devour in one sitting. I think this, in my opinion, was the best of the trilogy and even though it’s the end of this trilogy I hope we hear from Scarlet and Jesse in the future.
My book Review of Midnight Curse (Disrupted Magic #1) by Melissa F. Olson found here.
by Laura Joh Rowland
Release date: January 9th, 2018
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.
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.
The Devil’s Wedding Ring
by Vidar Sundstøl
Release date: September 26th, 2017
I’m a huge fan of Nordic Noir and The Devil’s Wedding Ring by Vidar Sundstøl is a perfect example. Dark, edgy and brilliantly plotted, this novel captures your attention and holds it through to its very satisfying conclusion.
When Knut Abrahamson, a Police Officer is found a victim of apparent suicide, his former partner Max Fjellanger returns from the US to pay his respects but finds that all is not what it seems. Max, now a private investigator in Florida, doesn’t believe Knut would choose to end his life especially when the pieces surrounding his death don’t seem to fit. Thirty years ago the last case Knut and Max investigated, the mysterious disappearance of Peter Schram, a case that would drive Max from the force and still seems to still weigh heavily on Max’s soul. In 1985, Schram a folklore researcher writing about Pagan rituals and the Stave Church in Eidsborg disappears without a trace on Midsummer Eve, an important date in Pagan culture. The Stave Church is a tourist stop, although a Christian Church today was notorious for its Pagan history and rumours of a ghostly Monk who walks the grounds. The case of Schram’s disappearance remained unsolved but when Knut’s death looks like it is possibly related to the disappearance of a young grad student, Cecilie Weiborg as well as Schram, a shocking mystery begins to unravel. With the help of a quirky young librarian and mystery buff, Tirill Vesterli, Max sets out to solve the mystery but not before putting his and Tirill’s life in danger.
This story has it all, mystery, murder, Norse myths and the mysterious ghostly Monk. Vidar Sundstøl ( Translated by Tiina Nunnally) has written a story that is fast paced, well written and contains multi faceted characters. It has that great atmosphere that is indicative of Nordic Noir. I would definitely recommend this read to anyone looking for an exciting Nordic Noir thriller that perfectly blends murder and mythology.
by Kathy Reichs
Release date: July 11th, 2017
Kathy Reichs, famous for her Temperance Brennan, Forensic Anthropologist series has created a new stand-alone book; “Two Nights” a huge departure from her previous books. The protagonist in “Two Nights” is Sunday “Sunnie” Night, a former soldier and police officer who, after being injured in the line of duty, has decided to start a new life for herself, isolated from others. When Sunnie gets called upon by her old friend and mentor Beau to help locate a missing teenager, she is about to embark on a journey she didn’t expect.
Beau introduces Sunnie to elderly socialite Opaline Drucker who hires Sunnie to locate her granddaughter Stella. Stella was kidnapped after her mother and brother were both killed in a terrorist bombing and no one is sure whether she is still alive. Although hesitant Sunnie reluctantly leaves her isolated island home to rescue Stella and travels to Chicago to follow her trail. The more Sunnie discovers about Stella’s situation the more it stirs up trauma she thought she buried years ago and she makes it her mission to rescue her at all costs. After several close calls and a race against time, Sunnie enlists the help of Gus, one of the few she can trust and ends up placing them both in peril.
I really enjoyed Two Nights, it is an action-packed, engaging, fast-paced thriller that won’t disappoint. Sunnie is a multi-faceted character who carries a lot of baggage with much to overcome, yet is strong, sassy and sarcastic. Although it took me a while to warm up to her by the end I found myself rooting for Sunnie. This book was a brave departure from Reichs’s usual novels in both story and style and I really do hope Reichs continues to share Sunnie’s story.
My recommendation to fans new and old to go into this with an open mind, you won’t be disappointed.
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.
And they were the last to escape.
They thought he was safe.
They were wrong.
Jim Wales can communicate with animals, but that’s not why he lives with a traveling carnival. Turns out his family’s been hiding him there since he was little, since someone started hunting all the scholars. Jim is a scholar—someone who can manipulate energy using magic—and he has no idea.When a message arrives from Jim’s father—who supposedly died twelve years ago—Jim’s whereabouts are discovered, their carnival is attacked, and his mother is kidnapped. On the run with a strange glass map and a single coin, Jim finds himself racing to reclaim the father he thought he’d lost, plotting to save his mother, and discovering the truth about who he is.But going home isn’t the same as being safe, and trust is everything.
What readers are saying:
“Told in a beautiful, flowing style full of colorful images and adrenaline-pumping action.”
“Pop some popcorn, sit back … and enjoy the thrill ride, right up to the end, which leaves you begging for more.”
“Captures your attention from the start and then guides you through a roller coaster of adventure, drama, mystery, magic and young love.”
I love to read books on craft. I have many of them, and continue to marvel at the ways these books weave advice about writing in so many ways and yet all hope to get a writer to the same place. One of my very favorites is The Plot Whisperer, by Martha Alderson.
The book opens with an introduction which begins, Something urges you to pick up this book. And from there she begins to write not just about writing craft, but about our humanity and who we are in the world. Alderson describes how the stories we write, and things we put our characters through, speak about who we are as human beings.
I teach the Universal Story to writers through plot. Though difficult to accomplish successfully, plot is critical to stories. As I continue to teach and write and consult, I gain new insights into plot… and into writers’ lives.
She goes further to speak about the things that we struggle with as writers and the things that block us and how we should dig deep when these pop up in our writing because some baggage in our real world there needs to be unpacked and dealt with.
This is not to say that a murderous villain’s actions are speaking to the author’s experience. She’s talking about the deeper stuff. The conflicts, the motivations, the juicy meat that makes a story universally relatable.
Alderson talks about energy, and the Universal Story that we all strive to come into contact with. And how our ability to tell a story that speaks to everyone will be dependent on how we approach the world as a left- or right-brained person, or both. AND THEN… she tells you how to do it. *yay*
Look what happened when I finished the one of the exercises:
That’s my book there on my wall, all laid out in blue post-it notes. When I took this picture, I had been having issues with that first little downhill jaunt up there. Post-it note number 3 and 4 after the crisis peak were causing all kinds of havoc on everything that came after.
Posting it out like this, as the exercise advised, I was able to move through and solve the problem and became completely jazzed in the process. Being jazzed about your book is important.
I got so excited I grabbed my husband and made him come in to see the fabulous plot poster, but insisted that he didn’t actually READ any of the notes because he had not read the final draft yet and some of the juicy bits had now changed. So he admired my blue story structure plan and congratulated me and then left the room with me grinning like a starry-eyed maniac.
When I started writing this book, I did so without a plan. I had it in my head where I needed to go and I went. Once the first draft was finished, it was okay. I was enamored of the process and realized my story went in a few directions I hadn’t intended. Many drafts later, I was still paying for that lack of planning as I reworked some stuck spots and solved the larger issues of plot. Above all things, I have realized that I require a plot plan.
If you look closely, you’ll see a little pink post-it in the lower left corner. That was the start of another line of my story about to be explored and added to the six foot paper mural. I added green and orange tags as well. The exercises in this book are done in such a way as to help you see your story to its fullest completion. My plot poster was a kaleidoscopic adventure of bullet points when I was done.
If you’re looking for some help with your story plot, I highly recommend The Plot Whisperer by Martha Alderson.