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Summers in Ceylon

I’ve always been fascinated by depictions of Ceylon (Sri Lanka). While being very aware of the sad history of the place, a few of my favorite romance novels happen to take place there. I think there is something about the lush green area that is so different from the usual rainy drudgy British weather depictions that really help enliven the experiences.

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A young woman travels to Ceylon to meet her new husband, who owns a tea plantation there. Amidst the new, strange environment, Gwendolyn has a hard time adjusting to a new set of unwritten rules and responsibilities.  Her task in being happy is compounded by a clinging sister in law, Verity, a distant husband, and a lack of friendships  all while dealing with her new pregnancy.  As the questions start piling up for the reader (and Gwen), the story takes a dark turn. Luckily the questions are answered, although everything is not sunshine and roses. However, the end was redeeming enough for me. I appreciated the author’s acknowledgment of the racial tensions and prejudices going on in Ceylon at the time, even if it doesn’t really reflect well upon the British at the time.

This novel is pretty standard for what I expected.  There is a decent amount of intrigue and the author does a good job showing that relationships aren’t happy all the time. While a little dramatic at times (why not!) I found the book interesting enough and enjoyed reading it. Overall I would read another novel from this author.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review

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City of Miracles

I have been a fan of this author and series since the first book, City of Stairs.  I enjoy how each book can be a stand alone novel, but they all tie together. I also have enjoyed the characters and the entire concept of old almost forgotten gods coming back. I find it reminiscent of the “American Gods” book by Neil Gaiman (now a television series).  So very timely, regardless of what the author intended.

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Despite the book being in a similar vein, they are very different. I think in terms of the series, the first book is the strongest and this novel is second. The second book in the series was a little weaker and more confusing. However, on to this book.

This novel is about the tale of revenge and discovery of Sigrud. He is on a mission to avenge the death of his friend, only the mission will take him further than he thought possible and require him to question everything he thought he knew.  I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to see more from this author.

 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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Vibrant India

I usually like to come up with a fancy/ alliterative title, but the title of this book really says it all. Vibrant India by Chitra Agrawal is pretty amazing. The first thing I noticed about this book (other than the color of the foods) is that the ingredients are a little different than what I associate with Indian food. I know India is a subcontinent and so expansive, but I think all the Indian restaurants in my area are Norther Indian, and this cookbook is Southern Indian so I am very excited.

The book has an excellent introduction area. Assuming you may not be familiar, the author does a great job explaining. There’s a little history about her family, a section on Techniques and even tips on how to do specific things that may be different from normal cooking. The spice pantry descriptions are pretty excellent. The appearance, flavor, and even preparation of each spice is covered in great detail. I love this idea because it gives me a better idea of how the flavors combine and what I should be looking for.  Preferred brands are even listed which I find very helpful.

The recipes are fun as well. Although the recipes are all vegetarian, I almost didn’t notice. With options like “best yogurt raita”, “lime dill rice with pistachios”, or “vangi baath roasted brussel sprouts and cauliflower” you can hear the flavor. I am very excited about making the brussel sprouts and cauliflower dish because  these are two of my favorite summer sides. Put them together and flavor them? Yes please!  Overall this is a welcome addition to my cookbook rack and I can’t wait to pull all the information together to really get started.

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The Roanoke Girls

So when reading for pleasure, I prefer fiction and cookbooks. Cookbooks keep my mind and stomach entertained so I can think about what everything tastes like together or figure out how it all works.

Fiction is one of my first loves though. So when I read a fiction book, I often dive in mind first and reality be damned.  So I get all wrapped up from start to finish. This book makes it soo easy to do so. I also will admit since I’ve been a transplant to the midwest/south (depends on who you ask) for about half my life now, I really enjoy when a story takes place in the general environs.  Just because it is often fun and interesting when you live somewhere nearby.

This story is really exciting and fun. I enjoy the “family mystery” thing and the eventual resolution. I don’t want to give anything away, but it is a pretty good ride.  I highly recommend this book.

 

“I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”

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Murder or Magic?

I had seen this book in the new and popular section of my library, so when the opportunity came up to own it for for free, I jumped at it! I found this book to be very interesting.  I didn’t realize that this book was the second one a series, so that was a little bit off-puttting. I am pretty strict about reading series in order and wanted to go back and read the first one. However, I found it wasn’t too detrimental to not have the first novel read, the book does take place 17 years later, so chronologically a lot has happened  between the two books.

The story was fun. As with most murder mysteries, it gets a little convoluted and there are some false leads.  The end was satisfying and I enjoyed the use of magic to aid the detective aspect.  I may just end up going back and reading the first book. There is another book to be released, so I am looking forward to that.

 

“I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”

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Bread, A New World

Do you love bread? Do you have questions about all the things that can go wrong during making bread from scratch?  Do you not have time to do incremental changes to a recipe because you a) have no one to eat all that bread and b) just don’t want to? If you answered yes to these, you may just be like me. Wanting to make a successful loaf of bread, but not wanting to spend months perfecting it!  Go out and get “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice”.  This book is absolutely incredible.

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So a small caveat, I love the science behind cooking. Alton Brown’s shows hit that spot about why food and flavor does what it does. This book goes into that in great detail. There is some intense science/chemistry, but Peter Reinhart does a good job of throwing anecdotes and breaking down information for everyone to understand. The first 100 pages cover all the questions about bread. How it is made, why it is dense at times or fluffy, what your dough should look like, be shaped, be handled, low long to ferment your yeast, why you should, etc, etc, etc. A treasure trove of information.

Then we get to the recipes. These are delicate in their simplicity.  If you read even part of the first 100 pages (which you should totally do), the recipes make sense, the “bread ratio” is demystified,  and each ingredient makes sense.  I can’t wait to buy all bakers I know this book for Christmas because it answers all the questions I’ve asked proficient bread makers for years, only to get an unsatisfying answer. Not because of the bread maker’s inability, but because the sense of touch, of sound, of barely tangible qualities are hard to explain in absolutes.  If you have been interested in bread, in any aspect of the making, the baking, the rich history behind it, this book is an incredible read. Even if you don’t ever pick up a bag of flour!

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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A Coloring Book that Pops!

I just got this amazing coloring book. It is titled ” Pop Manga Coloring Book” by Camilla d’Errico. I didn’t know anything about this artist when getting this book, but her little bio on the back is fascinating. She has partnered with some of my favorite comic companies and comic authors, which means that book is even more perfect for me than I originally thought.

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This book is full of incredible images. They are usually a person (or just a face) fused with a variety of objects/animals. The cover image does a good job of hinting of the themes. I already started coloring.  The book also contains images of whole bodies/animals, not just faces.  There are a variety of themes represented, steam-punk, under the sea, woodland creatures, etc. I love the variety. Some are done in thick bold lines, some are done softer, like it is a sketch. Even without being a coloring enthusiast, these are some fun images to have around.

The only downfall I can come up with is that the images are double sided, which means if I want to display anything, gotta pick my favorite or make copies before I color so I can show them off. The pages are good quality paper, I haven’t currently bled through with markers, so let us hope that trend continues. “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”