[Review] The Make-Ahead Sauce Solution by Elisabeth Bailey

cover139382-mediumGenre: Cooking & Food

Publication: 30 October 2018 by Storey Publishing LLC

Rating: ★★★★★

Acquisition: e-galley courtesy of the publisher/NetGalley

What It’s About

(From the Publisher)

My Thoughts

I thought this was such a clever idea to be able to make quick but tasty meals, especially during the week when there isn’t much time or we’re all too tired. I really like the guide on what you can cook with each sauce and how to freeze everything. There is a huge variety of sauces for every taste and diet, so you’re bound to find something you like.

It’s perfect for me and I think it will become one of my staple cooking books!

[Review] Cooking With Scraps by Lindsay-Jean Hard

37585542Genre: Cooking, Food & Wine

Publication: 16 October 2018 by Workman Publishing Company

Rating: ★★★★☆

What It’s About

80 recipes showcasing bits of ingredients that we usually throw away (stems, tops, peels, etc.).

My Thoughts

I thought that was such a clever idea. As I am trying to reduce the amount of waste I produce, I’m always up for any tips and ideas on how to do so. Not only are we given recipes in this book, but we’re also given advice on how to store food and how to use a freezer properly to reduce waste.

The recipes are organised by ingredient, which I always find very useful as it makes the book quick and easy to use. They are all varied and seem delicious – it goes from the usual dishes to carrot top pesto and vanilla extract. Most of the recipes are accompanied by a photograph as well which in a must-have in a recipe book for me.

If you’re looking for something original yet useful, this book is for you!

[Review] If You Give the Puffin a Muffin by Timothy Young

39391280Genre: Children’s Fiction

Publication: 28 September 2018 by Schiffer Kids

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Acquisition: e-galley courtesy of the publisher/NetGalley

The Story

From the Publisher:

Everyone’s favorite puffin is back, and guess what—he’s still ANGRY! When Puffin is offered a muffin, he realizes that he’s the subject of another picture book and the target of a rhyming scheme gone wrong. His emotions take over and chaos ensues as he tries to escape the story line. Luckily, Puffin knows just where to turn for help. See what happens when characters from other picture books come to Puffin’s rescue. Timothy Young fans will have fun spotting characters and scenes from his previously published books, as well as references to other children’s classics. Will Puffin get lost in the fantasy worlds, or will he find his way out?

My Thoughts

I must start by saying that I haven’t read the first book in this series. I requested the e-galley because my toddler loves puffins and I thought it would be fun for him to read a puffin book. I must also admit that I’m the odd one out with my review as this book has raving reviews, so maybe it’s just me that doesn’t get it.

Toddler and I started reading the book together, but I quickly realised he would not get any of the story. It’s marketed for ages 0-6, but I doubt any child under 6 would understand. There is some humour in the writing, but it seems way too adult, or at least for older children, maybe around 8 or 10. So we looked at the pictures and talked about them instead, but I didn’t find them really pretty. Basically, If You Give the Puffin a Muffin, with its rhyming language and play on words, reminded me of the amazing Oi Frog! series with less humour and illustrations that aren’t as appealing.  There’s a fun nod at The Day the Crayons Quit, which was fun.

As I said, everyone else seems to love this book, so maybe it’s just me!

If You Give the Puffin A Muffin is available from Schiffer Publishing.


[Review] Build-A-Bowl by Nicki Sizemore

38746144Genre: Cooking, Food & Wine

Publication: 4 September 2018 by Storey Publishing

Rating: ★★★★★

What It’s About

77 creative combinations for Buddha bowls.

My Thoughts

Here is another Buddha Bowl cookbook review. I just love this concept. This book is very thorough as it explains in details what the different types of grains are and how to cook them (from basic rice to more obscure grains that we don’t often hear about). The concept of the bowl meal is explained clearly and simply, with lots of nice photographs and illustrations.

The recipes are varied, ranging from sweet to fish. I want to try so many of them. I often get bored of eating the same stuff for breakfast, so I particularly liked the sweet recipes.

I think this is a book worth owning and I do want to get my own copy.

Thanks to NetGalley and Storey Publishing for providing me with a free digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

[Review] Sewing Luna Lapin’s Friends by Sarah Peel

38395727Genre: Craft & Hobbies

Rating: ★★★★★

Acquisition: e-galley courtesy of F+W Media and NetGalley

What It’s About

(From the Publisher)

Learn to make Luna Lapin’s friends and their exquisite wardrobes. This collection of sewing patterns features five of Luna’s best friends and their clothes including Reynard the Fox, Clementine the Cat, Badger, Mouse and even a baby Luna!

Author, Sarah Peel, takes classic garments and recreates them on a miniature scale and with exquisite fabrics including Liberty cottons, wool tweed and French lace.

Full sized patterns and step-by-step instructions are included–as well as a collection of charming stories about the characters and their adventures.

My Thoughts

Such a lovely book!
The animals are beautiful, and the clothing is just so adorable. I love the old timey feel of the designs, it’s very vintage and nostalgic. The explanations are very thorough, yet simple and clear, whether it’s the steps to make the animals and clothes or the technical guide at the start of the book.
I just want to make them all!

[Review] Nadiya’s Family Favourites by Nadiya Hussain

40099429Genre: Cooking & Food

Rating: ★★★★★

Acquisition: hardcover sent by Penguin UK/Michael Joseph

What It’s About

(From the Publisher) This is the OFFICIAL cookbook, featuring the beautiful, simple and must-try recipes from her upcoming BBC TV series NADIYA’S FAMILY FAVOURITES.

Nadiya shares the food she loves to cook and eat with her family and friends, offering fast, easy and delicious new recipes for every kind of day.

This cookbook shows you how to create the perfect dishes to complement the moments we all love, from days out with friends to big get-togethers and lazy weekends at home, as well as simple and satisfying solutions for busy weeknights and speedy showstoppers for impromptu guests.

My Thoughts

I’ve liked Nadiya ever since I first saw her on the Great British Bake Off. She’s got such a lovely, cheerful personality, and her cooking skills are great. I’ve looked at her other cooking book and liked it, so I was excited to see she had a new one out.
I like Nadiya’s recipes as they are a bit original yet familiar enough that you want to try them out as you know it’ll be nice. I love that she’s mixed Bengali cuisine with British cuisine and created something tasty and original.
I’ve tried the grapefruit chicken stew and we loved it. Actually, my husband said “it smells nice!” when he came home as I was cooking dinner, and he rarely comments on my cooking (he does most of it, I’m not the best at it!). The almond and orange madeira cake was so tasty, too. I can’t wait to try more recipes.

[Review] Walls of Silence by Ruth Wade

38649604Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Publication: 11 March 2018 by Bloondhound Books

Acquisition: e-galley courtesy of Bloodhound Books and NetGalley

The Story

(From the Publisher)

The patient has a story that isn’t told and which no one knows of. It is the secret, the rock against which he is shattered. Carl Jung

The Great War is over but for Edith Potter an equally devastating conflict is about to begin.

She is unhinged by a secret so terrible her conscious mind doesn’t acknowledge it.

It is 1927 and Dr Stephen Maynard is using the new science of psychoanalysis to restore her sanity.

From his first meeting with her in the lunatic asylum, Dr Stephen Maynard is determined to bring her back to reality. During the long challenge, her disturbed behaviour forces him to confront his limitations – already severely stretched by the presence of someone prepared to use whatever weapons they can to ensure she maintains her silence.

My Thoughts

I’ve always found the topic of psychiatry and the history of psychiatric hospitals (or lunatic asylums as they were called back in the day) fascinating. So I pounced of Walls of Silence.

It is for sure quite original, but a few things bothered me.

1) I didn’t like any of the characters, apart from maybe Helen, who isn’t as bad as the others. They are all very humanely flawed, so kudos to Ruth Wade for creating such realistic, human characters. But neither Edith, Edward, Peter nor Stephen had anything that made them likeable to me. I guess PC Billings was quite a nice guy. I find it quite difficult to care about characters I don’t like.

2) I get that the whole novel deals with psychiatry but the medical debates between Peter and Stephen were quite difficult to follow for someone who hasn’t much knowledge of it and just bogged the story down. Entire chapters were merely made of conversations between the two men on psychoanalysis or Stephen’s personality. Some of the scenes where Stephen works in Edith also go on and on and make for slow reading.

3) The twist at the end was quite good, actually. I personally never saw it coming. But everything is still unclear as we aren’t told enough about what happened. And it’s a bit of a WTF moment, if you’ll excuse my French (side note – I’m French, I get to use this saying :-D).

Now, on to the good things.

1) Ruth Wade did an amazing job at recreating the time period (1927). As you read, you’re just there with the characters, part of the everyday life of the time, without even realising there is world building going on. From a historical fiction point of view, it’s a 10 out of 10.

2) I loved the shell-shocked veterans of WW1, having them as characters was so beautifully done. Actually, I wish they had a more prominent role in Walls of Silence as it is a fascinating subject. So, if Ruth Wade ever reads this, please write a novel about it, I’ll be the first in line to buy it!

[Review] Wabi-Sabi Sewing by Karen Lewis

38395728Genre: Crafts & Hobbies

Rating: ★★★★☆

Acquisition: e-galley courtesy of F+W Media and NetGalley

What It’s About

(From the Publisher)

Capture the essence of Japanese style in your sewing with this collection of projects inspired by the wabi-sabi concept of ‘perfect imperfection’. This collection of 20 sewing projects for home decor and accessories is based on the popular Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi which celebrates the beauty in the ordinary and imperfect.

My Thoughts

I had never of Wabi-Sabi before I saw this book on NetGalley, but the cover picture drew me to it right away. I really loved this style and aesthetic of the mishmash of fabrics.
I also like the fact that there are projects of all sizes in the book, from a coaster to a bedcover, which means there is something for everyone in here, depending on skills and time. The explanations are clear, especially with the addition of pictures to help your understanding. The photographs of the finished projects are gorgeous and make you want to create everything!
The only thing that bothered me a bit is that it’s all written in inches and yards. I would have liked equivalents in centimeters for European readers. But apart from that, it’s a great book!

[Review] Forsaking All Other by Catherine Meyrick

39101860Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: ★★★★★

Publication: 12 March 2018 by Courante Publishing

Acquisition: I won a copy of the book in a giveaway organised by HF Virtual Book Tours and was sent a copy by the author (with a nice bookmark!)

The Story

(Official Summary)

Love is no game for women; the price is far too high.

England 1585.

Bess Stoughton, waiting woman to the well-connected Lady Allingbourne, has discovered that her father is arranging for her to marry an elderly neighbour. Normally obedient Bess rebels and wrests from her father a year’s grace to find a husband more to her liking.

Edmund Wyard, a taciturn and scarred veteran of England’s campaign in Ireland, is attempting to ignore the pressure from his family to find a suitable wife as he prepares to join the Earl of Leicester’s army in the Netherlands.

Although Bess and Edmund are drawn to each other, they are aware that they can have nothing more than friendship. Bess knows that Edmund’s wealth and family connections place him beyond her reach. And Edmund, with his well-honed sense of duty, has never considered that he could follow his own wishes. Until now.

With England on the brink of war and fear of Catholic plots extending even into Lady Allingbourne’s household, time is running out for both of them.

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed Forsaking All Other. The story is believable. Catherine Meyrick has skillfully recreated the everyday life of Tudor England – you’re there with the characters without feeling like you’re told about it. I don’t read much Tudor historical fiction as I feel it often revolves around the same characters, mainly Henry VIII et al., so it was refreshing to read about “nobodies”. The dialogues are well written, with a sense of the older English language without sounding forced.

I really liked the character of Bess. She is a smart woman with a lot of common sense. I think that too often heroines can be too feisty to be believable, which means they end up in stupid situations, or on the other hand, quite shallow. I felt for Bess right from the start. Edmund Wyard was also a good character, in the vein of Mr. Darcy – the gruff guy who is good inside. All the characters were well developed and even the biggest villain of the story had their own reasons for being nasty that one could understand.

There is some romance in the story, but just like in real life, it is part of the story and doesn’t just exist for the sake of it. Trust me, I really am not a fan of romance, as you might have gathered from some of my previous reviews. Here it’s tasteful and has its place.

I also really appreciated the historical note at the end of the novel that explained Meyrick’s choices for Forsaking All Other, which is always a great addition to historical fiction.

[Review] Read Food Kids Will Love by Annabel Karmel

40121434Genre: Cooking & Food

Rating: ★★★★★

Acquisition: e-galley courtesy of Bluebird / Pan Macmillan and NetGalley

What It’s About

The brand new book by Annabel Karmel, the specialist of food for babies and children.

My Thoughts

I love Annabel Karmel, her books are brilliant. I use two of her books on a regular basis, Top 100 Finger Foods and Quick & Easy Toddler Recipes. She has the quickest pancake recipe ever and we use it regularly on Sunday mornings. So I was excited when I saw she had another one out. Once again, she didn’t disappoint.

The recipes all look tasty, wholesome and varied (with, for example, meat recipes, but also meat-free and vegan for every diet out there). A lot of them can be made with your child(ren) to get them involved in the cooking process, and some are also quite original (butternut squash carbonara, for example, never heard of it and it sounds delicious!).

I like that we’re told when a meal is freezable, so you can batch cook for another day, for example. I also appreciated the little cooking tips found throughout the book. Did you know that if you microwave a lemon for 15 seconds, you can get double the amount of juice from it? Neither did I.

The recipes are quite simple so you don’t have to spend ages slaving in the kitchen. We know what the outcome usually is with kids… My favourite sections have to be Healthy “Fast” Food (fast food lover here), Lunchboxes (I never know what to make for lunch! And I’m totally making the vegetable train for my little train lover) and Desserts & Sweets. I have a massive sweet tooth, so healthy and tasty ideas are always welcome. I’m trying the raspberry ripple mini cheesecakes asap.

Honestly, I would totally use this book even if I didn’t have a child. It’s not just food that kids will love, it’s food that everyone will love.