A Modern Way To Cook by Anna Jones

A Modern Way To Cook [review]

A Modern Way To Cook by Anna Jones

[Synopsis]

From the author of the brilliant A Modern Way to Eat, a new collection of delicious, healthy, inspiring vegetarian recipes – that are so quick to make they’re achievable on any night of the week.

Many more of us are interested in eating healthier food on a regular basis but sometimes, when we’re home late, tired after work, and don’t have time to buy lots of ingredients, it can just seem too complicated.

In this brilliant new collection of recipes, Anna Jones makes clean, nourishing, vegetable-centred food realistic on any night of the week. Chapters will be broken down by time (recipes for under 15, 20, 30 or 40 minutes) and also by planning a little ahead (quick healthy breakfasts, dishes you can make and re-use throughout the week). Anna’s new book will be a truly practical and inspiring collection for anyone who wants to put dinner on the table quickly, without fuss, trips to specialist shops or too much washing up, but still eat food that tastes incredible and is doing you good.

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[My Review]

I’ve found another brilliant cookbook I’ll be purchasing in print for my bookshelf! Packed full of easy to follow, nutritious and healthy recipes, A Modern Way To Cook is definitely well worth adding to your cookbook collection!

I found that the range of recipes here was really good, and the photos were flawless – almost a bit intimidating, as I doubt I could whip anything up and make it look that perfect! They’re very instagram-worthy images! However, when I tried a few recipes out I found that, actually, they are achievable – and really tasty, too!

The book is divided into the time it takes to cook each recipe, and so it’s sort of in easy order, if you think of a short prep & cooking time as easy and a long time as harder – which, to be fair, isn’t always the case, but it’s a good place to start when working out which recipes might be a little simpler. There are sections such as ‘In the time it takes to set a table’ and ‘On the Table in Half an Hour’ plus many others. There’s also a really interesting Stir Fry section which has given me great inspiration many times – I do love a good stir fry! There are also some great recipes for one-pan dinners (saving on the washing up is always a winner!)

Some recipes are a little simpler – for example an omlette and a few salads – and they didn’t hugely inspire me, but there are also plenty of really creative (but still quite easy to follow) recipes too!

With meal ideas and recipes this good, there’s no excuse to order a take away whenever you’re short of inspiration – plus it made the list of Jamie Oliver-approved cookbooks, too!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to the publisher Ten Speed Press and Netgalley for providing a copy of this book in return for an honest and unbiased review.

Courage Resurrected by Scott Mackey

Courage Resurrected [review]

Courage Resurrected by Scott Mackey

[Synopsis]

Ray Courage’s wife Pam died thirteen years before in a car accident. Or did she? Ray’s world is turned upside down when he receives a series of e-mails from someone claiming to be his dead wife, accusing him of attempting to kill her and vowing revenge. Ray sets out to find the identity of the e-mailer only to discover the circumstances of his wife’s apparent death appear to be all but accidental. Soon Police Detective Carla Thurber comes to suspect Ray of killing his wife, and of a subsequent murder of Pam’s confidant. Meanwhile, a murderous predator who does not want the facts of Pam’s death to surface aims to stop Ray. In the greatest challenge of his life, Ray must outrun the police and elude those who are out to kill him as he seeks the truth about his wife’s death.

[My Review]

This is the first I’ve read from the Ray Courage mystery series,  and I am so impressed with the way he’s created such an interesting cast of characters and a great storyline that kept me wanting to read on.

This felt like a novel that I could really get stuck into (and I did!) and it had plenty of points where I found myself questioning a whole variety of characters and their motives. The characters are well-developed and convincing, even the ‘baddies’ (which so often isn’t the case in this genre), and I was rooting for Ray to clear his name and find out what actually happened to his wife. I felt for him so much, especially when he’s remembering his wife and their life together, and this made me root for him even more!

The story is really fast paced, but not ridiculously so – it moves along at just the right speed really, giving enough information to explain what’s going on without becoming too descriptive or wordy; it manages to remain packed full of action and octane without being at all trashy. Though there were some points that were a little crazy, and included lots of very American-style and phrases (it is an American novel, to be fair), this wasn’t to the point of it annoying me.

I also didn’t feel that I was at a disadvantage for not having read the first book, though there were some mentions of occurrences that I imagine might relate back to the first book so I guess if you have the opportunity to read them in order then that always makes sense!

Overall this was a really enjoyable, fun thriller that I would really recommend to anyone looking for a new Detective indie series to read!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to the author for providing a copy of this novel in return for an honest review

Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan

Dear Amy [review]

Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan

[Synopsis]

Margot Lewis is the agony aunt for The Cambridge Examiner. Her advice column, Dear Amy, gets all kinds of letters – but none like the one she’s just received:

“Dear Amy,
I don’t know where I am. I’ve been kidnapped and am being held prisoner by a strange man. I’m afraid he’ll kill me.
Please help me soon,
Bethan Avery”

Bethan Avery has been missing for years. This is surely some cruel hoax. But, as more letters arrive, they contain information that was never made public. How is this happening? Answering this question will cost Margot everything…

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[My Review]

With missing people, suspicious characters and psychological thrills, Dear Amy looked right up my street, and I’d been looking forward to reading it for a while.

The book features intriguing characters which are crafted well by author Helen Callaghan, and the pace moves quickly along and includes plenty of action without being too over the top. The first half of the novel completely hooked me in – I couldn’t stop reading and really devoured it! I really liked agony aunt Margot, the main character, and really felt for her at various points in the story, plus I really liked the premise of the story – an agony aunt getting letter that seemed to relate to a missing person case from  years ago.

However as the story continued it started getting a little silly – even for this genre. I lost interest a little bit as, though there are plenty of twists, most are quite easy to guess and (especially as the novel went on) seemed a little far fetched and unbelievable (yes, even for this genre!).

I wish the story had included a bit more about why certain things had happened to certain characters (trying to avoid any spoilers), but overall this was still a really entertaining thriller that I enjoyed reading.

[Rating: 3/5]

* Many thanks to Michael Joseph and Netgalley for providing a coy of this novel in return for an honest review *

Cookbooks by The Happy Pear

The Happy Pear & The World Of The Happy Pear [review]

Cookbooks by The Happy Pear

[My Review]

I seriously LOVE these cookbooks! I’ve watched The Happy Pear’s Youtube videos for a while now and was always really impressed with their recipes (especially the 5 minute recipes, so impressive!) so decided to take the plunge and order not on but both of their recipe books – and boy, I’m glad I did!

Both The Happy Pear and The World of the Happy Pear are packed full of brilliant, creative recipes that are easy to follow and don’t require a ridiculous amount of bizarre / really expensive ingredients. They have lovely photos to accompany a lot of the recipes as well as information about healthy eating and lifestyles. As both David and Stephen are vegan, you know it’s a great book for vegetarians and vegans, but most recipes can be easily adapted to include meat if that’s your bag!

The mains and desserts are my favourite sections in both books; if I’m ever at a loss of what to cook for dinner I turn straight to either of these books as I know I’ll find something fairly easy to follow – so even if I’m exhausted after work, I can still eat healthy and delicious food! And the desserts…for anyone with a sweet tooth or even if you’re more of a savoury girl (like me!), you’ll be salivating at some of these desserts. Absolutely delicious and super easy to follow!

Definitely recommended if you’re after a brilliant, inspiring cookbook that’ll suit any occasion – whether you fancy cooking up a storm or something a little simpler!

[My Rating for both: 5/5]

The Fire Child by S.K. Tremayne

The Fire Child [review]

The Fire Child by S.K. Tremayne

[Synopsis]

When Rachel marries dark, handsome David, everything seems to fall into place. Swept from single life in London to the beautiful Carnhallow House in Cornwall, she gains wealth, love, and an affectionate stepson, Jamie.

But then Jamie’s behaviour changes, and Rachel’s perfect life begins to unravel. He makes disturbing predictions, claiming to be haunted by the spectre of his late mother – David’s previous wife. Is this Jamie’s way of punishing Rachel, or is he far more traumatized than she thought?

As Rachel starts digging into the past, she begins to grow suspicious of her husband. Why is he so reluctant to discuss Jamie’s outbursts? And what exactly happened to cause his ex-wife’s untimely death, less than two years ago? As summer slips away and December looms, Rachel begins to fear there might be truth in Jamie’s words:

‘You will be dead by Christmas.’

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[My Review]

I’ll start by saying that I’ve heard a lot about S. K. Tremayne‘s first book, The Ice Twins, but haven’t yet read it, so I can’t compare them, like other reviews may do. Anyway, when I had the chance to review The Fire Child, I (of course!) jumped at it! From what I gather, they’re not really comparable anyway – equally great but very different.

I have to say that this is one of the most atmospheric novels I’ve read in a long time. The author manages to create such an eerie, spooky feel without being too ‘obvious’; the house itself is full of history and the whole inclusion of the Cornish miners’ awful time down the mines is both enthralling and horrifying (I didn’t really know anything about this before reading it but it has made me want to find out more). You don’t actually hear from the miners in this novel, just hear some of their accounts second-hand, so it keeps what they must have experienced very abstract but chilling, too, as it’s hard to even imagine how it must have been to work in those conditions – especially with all those accidents. This was really powerful by it wasn’t even the main storyline – more of a sideline that adds extra tension to the narrative.

The novel leaves you unsure at times of who is really telling the truth, and who is telling some fibs – or complete, outright lies – and I love novels that do this. I questioned my own judgement plenty of times! The characters are brilliantly crafted, the story is a little slower at times but that’s all the better to gradually build up and ramp up the tension – and there’s plenty of confusion for the main character Rachel, young Jamie… and me as the reader – but in a good way!

I won’t say much more as I don’t want to give much away but I’d definitely recommend this as an atmospheric, chilling read that leaves you questioning everything and everyone in its pages – the kind of novel I love!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Harper Collins UK for providing a copy of this book in return for an honest and unbiased review

The Night Stalker by Robert Bryndza

The Night Stalker [review]

The Night Stalker by Robert Bryndza

[Synopsis]

If the Night Stalker is watching, you’re already dead…

In the dead of a swelteringly hot summer’s night, Detective Erika Foster is called to a murder scene. The victim, a doctor, is found suffocated in bed. His wrists are bound and his eyes bulging through a clear plastic bag tied tight over his head.

A few days later, another victim is found dead, in exactly the same circumstances. As Erika and her team start digging deeper, they discover a calculated serial killer – stalking their victims before choosing the right moment to strike.

The victims are all single men, with very private lives. Why are their pasts shrouded in secrecy? And what links them to the killer?

As a heat wave descends upon London, Erika will do everything to stop the Night Stalker before the body count rises, even if it means risking her job. But the victims might not be the only ones being watched… Erika’s own life could be on the line.

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[My Review]

The Night Stalker is the second in the DCI Erika Foster series, the first of which (The Girl in the Ice) I absolutely loved, so I was hoping that The Night Stalker would be a worthy follow up…

One thing that is so great about this series is the amazing characterisation; I love the way Robert Bryndza has crafted the people in the Police force. Erika is a great main character and, though she has her faults, I really like reading about her and learning more about her past and deceased husband Mark. Even the ‘baddies’ as great characters – not just the two dimensional, unbelievable perpetrators that some novels in this genre present. Bryndza has managed to make people on the side of the law seem human, too. Of course, there are a few characters that I really dislike, (and I’d guess the reader is supposed to!), so they add some drama into the mix!

I don’t want to give too much away about this novel as it’s full of suspense and mystery along with a good dose of action – but not too much action because the Detective work still really shines through. This is something I always look for in a crime novel like this. There’s a dash of humour in there too which lightens up the quite dark subject matter. I enjoyed reading every word and really didn’t want it to end!

The story really pulled me in and, though it’s got the odd part where you need to suspend your disbelief (like most Detective stories), it’s a fantastic follow up to The Girl in the Ice and, in my opinion, has cemented this series as a fantastic crime series that I will definitely be following, and reading every new release from – bring on book 3!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Bookouture for providing a copy of this novel in return for an honest review

The Girls by Emma Cline

The Girls [review]

The Girls by Emma Cline

[Synopsis]

Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

[My Review]

The Girls by Emma Cline is certainly a wonderfully crafted novel, transporting the reader into the rapidly changing world of 1960’s America, and its radical ‘free thinking’ which created a new kind of living for many.

The characters are all wonderfully crafted; you can really see and understand how Evie becomes so wrapped up in the world of Russell and his ‘girls’. Though she is actually quite irritating at times, and I sometimes just wanted to shout at her for being so stupid or childish, the writing makes you see how and why it happens, so you can forgive her a little. The pull of what is obviously a cult is so strong that she can’t resist, despite the sub-standard living conditions and largely unpleasant nature of many of the girls – who are also pleasingly fleshed out people. Though Evie is infatuated with Suzanne, we can see some of her true colours whilst also understanding that Evie can’t resist her.

The story is quite slow moving, but it moves along at a perfect pace, allowing the reader time to realise what Russell and the others are really like but also leaving a lot of mystery surrounding them. The story jumps back and forth between the present day, with Evie as an adult, and 1969 when Evie was an easily-influenced 14 year old – though she still seems this way as an adult, to some extent! Her past experiences don’t seem to have taught her to be less influenced by strong characters, and she still seems to be guided or told what to do by people who are, really, just teenagers.

The writing is really superb – at times there are a little too many metaphors and similes packed into the pages for my liking, but overall I was blown away by the writing. The Girls is certainly an evocative and beautifully written summer read – definitely recommended!

[Rating: 5/5]

* Many thanks to Random House UK – Vintage publishing for providing a copy of this novel in return for an honest review *

My Name is Leon [review]

My Name is Leon - Kit De Waal

[Synopsis]

A brother chosen. A brother left behind. And the only way home is to find him.

Leon is nine, and has a perfect baby brother called Jake. They have gone to live with Maureen, who has fuzzy red hair like a halo, and a belly like Father Christmas. But the adults are speaking in low voices, and wearing Pretend faces. They are threatening to take Jake away and give him to strangers. Because Jake is white and Leon is not.

As Leon struggles to cope with his anger, certain things can still make him smile – like Curly Wurlys, riding his bike fast downhill, burying his hands deep in the soil, hanging out with Tufty (who reminds him of his dad), and stealing enough coins so that one day he can rescue Jake and his mum.

Evoking a Britain of the early eighties, My Name is Leon is a story of love, identity and learning to overcome unbearable loss. Of the fierce bond between siblings. And how – just when we least expect it – we somehow manage to find our way home.

[My Review]

My Name is Leon really surprised me; I didn’t know what to expect but I certainly didn’t think I’d feel so many emotions through a 250 page (approx.) book!

The author has created such a loveable character in Leon, and I certainly fell in love with him. As he’s only 9 years’ old the world that Kit De Waal creates around him seems, at first, very innocent, but as his life continues and he realises the unfairness of life, you notice how he becomes disillusioned and angry – and I don’t blame him!

In fact, every character is so well crafted; I loved Maureen, Sylvia, Tufty and Mr Devlin too, each in their own charming ways. They all seem like so well-defined but wonderful characters, and to be honest I just wanted to read more about them!

The story takes the reader on so many highs and lows, but always with plenty of humour (some of which Leon doesn’t seem to pick up on and seems to go over Leon’s head) which stops it being too glum. You’re always very aware of what a hard life Leon has, and probably will always have to be honest. It really makes you think about how your start in life can affect so much.

I really enjoyed this novel; it could be suited for a slightly younger audience too, really, as it’s written from Leon’s point of view… though there is some bad language so perhaps not too young an audience! It’s all written with so wonderfully that I found it a delight to read, despite being sad at times. Highly recommended.

Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Viking for providing a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

The Killing Files by Nikki Owen

The Killing Files [review]

The Killing Files by Nikki Owen

[Synopsis]

No matter how fast you run, the past always catches up with you
Dr Maria Martinez is out of prison and on the run.
Her mission? To get back to the safety of her family.
Little does she know that this might be the most dangerous place of all…

[My Review]

I read and loved The Spider in the Corner of the Room (now titled Subject 375) – read my review here – so was really excited to read the second in The Project series, called The Killing Files. I can’t deny I was a little worried that the second novel wouldn’t live up to the brilliant work that is The Spider… but I needn’t have been worried, because this is a worthy follow up!

Dr Maria Martinez is back and she’s as lovable as ever. I felt that Nikki Owen has created a character that so refreshingly portrayed someone with Autism (I’m no expert, but I can tell when characters with this condition don’t quite seem to ring true, as with various other novels I’ve read in the past), and she’s back in The Killing Files as the same well-crafted, interesting character who I loved reading about, as always! She’s not the ”typical’ female character that we so often see in books and films (much more in films, though, to be fair) who is often just a supporting character for the men, or there mainly as a sex symbol and is always looking attractive and ladylike. There’s plenty of occurrences where Maria’s sweating, dirty and looking (and feeling) as rough as anyone else. It’s great to learn a little more about Maria, and see her meet someone who I looks like they could be a potential love interest – and none of this is portrayed in a cheesy, cliched way, because the story is, again, told through Maria’s eyes. She just tells it all as it is, and it’s really entertaining and, at times, very humorous to get inside her head and see why she thinks the things she does.

The novel is very fast-moving, and switches between the present tense, when Maria is seemingly captured and locked in a room, and the time leading up to this, so we can see how it all happened. I felt it was a little too ‘action’ and not as much substance as the first novel to begin with, but that soon disappeared as the story went on and it became a much more developed and intriguing.

This is one of those novels where you’re never quite sure who is on Maria’s side and who isn’t – as the reader we only see what Maria does, so there’s no reader advantage here. We’re often as bewildered as she is, and I loved that uncertainty – it really ramps up the threat level.

I’m really glad this lived up to the first book, which I really enjoyed – you can’t help but compare, but this is definitely well worth a read and is a worthy follow up to The Spider in the Corner of the Room (Subject 375).

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Harlequin publishers for providing a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.