Showing posts with label Book Tours. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Book Tours. Show all posts

Thursday, June 6, 2019

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Song of the Jade Lily" by Kirsty Manning, Served with a Recipe for Tea-Soaked Hard-Boiled Eggs

I am excited to be the final stop on the TLC Book Tour for the World War II novel, The Song of the Jade Lily by Kirsty Manning. Accompanying my review are some  pretty Tea-Soaked Eggs, inspired by my reading.


Publisher's Blurb: 

A gripping historical novel that tells the little-known story of Jewish refugees who fled to Shanghai during WWII.

1939: Two young girls meet in Shanghai, also known as the “Paris of the East”. Beautiful local Li and Jewish refugee Romy form a fierce friendship, but the deepening shadows of World War II fall over the women as they slip between the city’s glamorous French Concession district and the teeming streets of the Shanghai Ghetto. Yet soon the realities of war prove to be too much for these close friends as they are torn apart.

2016: Fleeing London with a broken heart, Alexandra returns to Australia to be with her grandparents, Romy and Wilhelm. Her grandfather is dying, and over the coming weeks Romy and Wilhelm begin to reveal the family mysteries they have kept secret for more than half a century. As fragments of her mother’s history finally become clear, Alexandra struggles with what she learns while more is also revealed about her grandmother’s own past in Shanghai.

After Wilhelm dies, Alexandra flies to Shanghai, determined to trace her grandparents’ past. Peeling back the layers of their hidden lives, she is forced to question what she knows about her family—and herself.

The Song of the Jade Lily is a lush, provocative, and beautiful story of friendship, motherhood, the price of love, and the power of hardship and courage that can shape us all.

Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (May 14, 2019)

My Review:

Someday I will count up the number of World War II novels I have reviewed on this blog, or even books I have just read, without doing a book tour review. It is a time in history that interests me, particularly when author's explore the war from a different perspective or teach me something new. The Song of the Jade Lily does both as it looks at the war mostly from the point of view of Romy Bernfeld, a young Jewish girl from Vienna who flees Vienna to Shanghai with her parents in 1938. I didn't know that much about Shanghai during the war and just how many European Jewish refugees (over 20,000) they took in during the war. Romy's family does not escape unscathed, one of her older brothers is killed while trying to defend a neighbor from the Germans and her other brother is shipped off to the Dachau concentration camp. On the journey to Shanghai, Romy befriends Nina, a girl her age with her own tragic losses, and later in Shanghai, Romy and her family become friends with their neighbors, the Ho family. Romy and Li Ho become fast friends, along with Li's brother Jian. The book alternates the war timeline with 2016, when Romy's granddaughter, Alexandra takes a job in Shanghai and uses the time to inquire about her past, as her late mother was adopted by Romy and her husband Wilhelm, right after the war ended.

I was a little worried about being able to finish the book with the busy couple of weeks I was having and my limited reading time, but The Song of the Jade Lily was difficult for me to put down--I was completely caught up in the story and in the sights, sounds, and smells of Shanghai in wartime and in present day and wanted to dig in every chance I got. Kirsty Manning brings the pages to vivid life--the horrors or war and the power of love and friendship. Like most WWII novels, there is much sadness in the pages, but strength and resilience too. The afterward with the author's notes on the inspiration for the book as well as the list of resources she used to research her subject was interesting too. I hope to read more from her. If you like historical fiction, WWII stories, interwoven stories and time periods, strong female characters and different perspectives, add this one to your TBR list.

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Author Notes: Kirsty Manning grew up in northern New South Wales, Australia. She has degrees in literature and communications and worked as an editor and publishing manager in book publishing for over a decade. A country girl with wanderlust, her travels and studies have taken her through most of Europe, the east, and west coasts of the United States as well as pockets of Asia. Kirsty’s journalism and photography specializing in lifestyle and travel regularly appear in magazines, newspapers, and online. She lives in Australia.
 
Find out more about Kirsty at her website, and connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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Food Inspiration:

There was so much food in The Song of the Jade Lily that I think it almost classifies as a foodie book and it was a variety of mostly Jewish, German and Austrian and Chinese dishes. I will attempt to cover just some of the mentions here as I took a few pages of notes. Mentions included the scents of frying fish, cardamom, cinnamon and star anise, noodles, congee, champagne, whiskey, afternoon tea, coffee, hot chocolate piles high with cream, fried garlic and smoked paprika, a soup of black bean paste with crushed garlic, ginger, and chives, a garden with green beans, bay, thyme, Meyer lemon and lime trees, flowering garlic and chives, peas, tomato and purple and green basil, a pesto made from coriander, glugs of olive oil, almonds, garlic and lemons, bok choy, pumpkin and water chestnut risotto, sauteed lamb kidneys with orchid stems and shiitake mushrooms, coffee and plum jam liwanzen (fried yeast pancakes), chocolate cake, Semmelknodel (German bread) dumplings with roast chicken,homemade lemonade and ginger beer, Austrian rye bread and baked treats including a brotgewurz (a German bread spice mixture that included ground caraway, fennel, anise and coriander seed, plus Chinese allspice, celery seed and cardamom), mushroom dumplings, carrot cake, Black forest cake, apricot and apple strudels, scones with raspberry jam and double cream, persimmons, crepes with egg,leek, herbs and deep-fried pastry strips for crunch, Griessnockerlsuppe (chicken and semolina dumpling soup), macarons, basi pingguo (apple, deep-fried and coated in caramel and sesame seeds), tofu and eggplant salad, cones of toasted melon, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, pickled mango, cream cakes with raspberry jam on top, baba ghanoush and hummus, baled fish, couscous and beef brisket, hot pot, pink dragon fruit, lychee and guava, pea torte, spicy prawns with lily bulbs and almond, jasmine tea-soaked chicken, cinnamon buns, orange and poppyseed cake, mapo doufu, and lychee and ginger martinis.


For my book-inspired dish, I decided to make Tea-Soaked Eggs because I have been wanting to make them for a while now and I liked that they were Romy's favorites, and the description when Alexandra and Zhang go to breakfast:

"'What is that?' asked Alexandra as they passed a narrow alleyway crowded with people lining up behind bamboo steamers stacked like circular towers. 
'That'--he pointed to a tiny hole-in-the-wall--'is breakfast.' 
Alexandra eyed the dozens of boiled eggs floating in a dark broth and recognized one of Romy's favorite dishes. At home, Romy would boil a dozen eggs, then crack them gently on the counter before dropping them into a crockpot filled with black tea. She'd add orange rind, cinnamon, star anise, five spice, cardamom, and soy sauce, and leave the eggs to soak overnight. Alexandra had loved the aromas of all the spices floating through the house, especially in winter. The next morning, Romy would scoop the eggs out with a slotted spoon and peel them to reveal a beautiful marbled pattern, each one in a slightly different hue."


Recipe:

I basically followed the recipe above from the book, along with a glance at this Food52 article for slow cooker timing. I decided to use some of my Lapsang Souchong tea to see what the smoky flavor did with the eggs. Since I didn't have orange rind on hand, I put a couple of pieces of lemon peel into the mix.


Notes/Results: I was expecting a more dramatic mosaic pattern on my eggs. Although I do find the shells quite vibrant and gorgeous, the eggs were lighter in color than I thought they would be. Also, although I took my eggs out of the fridge about 20 minutes before boiling and they were fairly fresh, most of the bottoms were flat. Oh well, the taste was better than they looked. I liked how the smoky flavor of the Lapsang Souchong I used combined with the aromatic spices and soy sauce. They are a little bit rubbery in texture, but the flavor made up for that. I would make them again.


I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.


Note: A review copy of "The Song of the Jade Lily" was provided to me by the author and the publisher, Harper Collins, via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.  
 
You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.

 

Friday, May 31, 2019

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Shadow Writer" by Eliza Maxwell, Served with a Recipe for Shrimp Tacos

Happy Friday! I love a short week. I also love a good mystery thriller and I adore shrimp tacos, and this post has all three. I am happy to be the last stop on the TLC Book Tour for The Shadow Writer by Eliza Maxwell and I am pairing my review with some delectable Shrimp Tacos. Enjoy! 


Publisher's Blurb:

Every writer has a story. Some are deadlier than others.

Aspiring author Graye Templeton will do anything to escape the horrific childhood crime that haunts her. After a life lived in shadows, she’s accepted a new job as protégé to Laura West, influential book blogger and wife of an acclaimed novelist. Laura’s connections could make Graye’s publishing dreams a reality. But there’s more to Laura than meets the eye.

Behind the veneer of a charmed life, Laura’s marriage is collapsing. Her once-lauded husband is descending into alcoholism and ruin and bringing Laura nearer to the edge.

As the two women form a bond that seems meant to be, long-buried secrets claw their way into the present, and the line between friendship and obsession begins to blur, forcing each to decide where her loyalties lie. Running from the past is a dangerous game, and the loser could end up dead.

Paperback
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (May 1, 2019)


My Review:

The Shadow Writer is my first book from Eliza Maxwell and it won't be my last. I was drawn by the premise and the fact that one of the main characters, Laura, is a book blogger. Graye is a young aspiring author with a tragic background who works her way into a position as Laura's personal assistant. Laura's life might seem enviable to those looking in, except for her alcoholic husband, a famous author whose work has deteriorated after his big break and initial success which Laura heavily influenced. Graye was David's teaching assistant before coming to work for Laura, and although he was once her idol, she is no longer impressed. 

The story is a bit of a slow burn with the plot slowly unraveling secret by secret, and told by the perspectives of Laura, Graye, and Sister Margaret, the nun who helped raise a young Graye after her family tragedy. There were plenty of twists and turns that had me guessing and the tension was steadily built throughout the book. Although there were some suspenseful moments, it was the several smaller dramas that brought the thrills rather than one big "aha" moment. If you like psychological thrillers and domestic thrillers, with intriguing plots, add The Shadow Rider to your summer TBR--it will bring some good chills to a hot summer evening. 

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Author Notes:  Eliza Maxwell is the author of The Widow’s WatcherThe Unremembered GirlThe Grave Tender, and The Kinfolk. She writes fiction from her home in Texas, which she shares with her ever-patient husband, two impatient kids, a ridiculous English setter, and a bird named Sarah. An artist and writer, a dedicated introvert, and a British-cop-drama addict, she enjoys nothing more than sitting on the front porch with a good cup of coffee.

Connect with Eliza on her website, Facebook, and Instagram

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Food Inspiration: 

There was not a lot of food inspiration in The Shadow Writer but mentions included, pasta and wine, a taco stand with shrimp tacos, Thin Mints, champagne, margaritas, a frosty pink drink, salad, bread and gruel, a facetious mention of "salmon with a side of poison" for a murder mystery event, pizza, coffee, a root beer and a club sandwich, and fresh cherries.

For my book-inspired dish, I decided to make some fish tacos like the ones Laura and Greer enjoyed at a roadside taco stand early in the book. Not a lot of description was given--other than them each getting a plate with two over-stuffed shrimp tacos, so I just did my own thing, pairing Mark Bittman's Spanish-style Simplest and Best Shrimp with a bunch of taco fixins' and adding some of these tasty pickled sweet peppers from Chef Edward Lee.


Mark Bittman says, "Excuse the superlatives; this spin on a Spanish tapa is my favorite, and everyone I serve it to loves it. The shrimp juices infuse the oil, and the sum is beyond delicious. It’s good with bread, over rice, tossed with pasta, or stuffed into tacos.

Other seafood you can use: similar-sized scallops (or larger, though they’ll take longer to cook)."


Mark Bittman's Simplest and Best Shrimp
From How to Everything via MarkBittman.com
(Makes 4 Servings)

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more as needed
3 or 4 big cloves garlic, cut into slivers
About 1 1/2 lbs shrimp (20 to 30 per lb), peeled, rinsed, and dried
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 1/ 2 tsp hot paprika
chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish


Warm the olive oil in a large, broad ovenproof skillet or heatproof baking pan over low heat. There should be enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan; don’t skimp. Add the garlic and cook until it turns golden, a few minutes.

Raise the heat to medium-high and add the shrimp, some salt and pepper, the cumin, and the paprika. Stir to blend and continue to cook, shaking the pan once or twice and turning the shrimp once or twice, until they are pink all over and the mixture is bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes. Garnish and serve immediately.

I served my shrimp on grilled corn tortillas with cabbage slaw, cilantro, salsa, pickled sweet peppers, guacamole and lime juice.


Notes/Results: I think if you aren't over-stuffing your tacos and needing multiple napkins for the ensuing mess, you just aren't having the full taco experience. These shrimp tacos were definitely the full experience--full of ingredients and flavor. They made for a quick and easy and pretty healthy dinner. Mark Bittman's shrimp were a definite win--I loved the cumin and paprika along with the garlic. I will definitely be making them again. 


Linking up with I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week's them is Take It Outside with outdoor-friendly recipes from any of our 19 featured chefs like Rick Bayless


I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.


Note: A review copy of "The Shadow Writer" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.  
 
You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.


 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "How We Disappeared" by Jing-Jing Lee, Served with a Recipe for Stir-Fried Choy Sum with Garlic Sauce and Rice with Radish

It's Wednesday and the week is sliding into the home stretch and the weekend and I couldn't be more ready. I am also happy to be today's TLC Book Tour stop for How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee, a compelling World War II historical novel that is haunting and beautiful. Accompanying my review is a simple recipe for Stir-Fried Choy Sum with Garlic Sauce and Steamed Rice with Radish.
 


Publisher's Blurb: 

A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel set in World War II Singapore about a woman who survived the Japanese occupation and a man who thought he had lost everything—for fans of Pachinko and We Were the Lucky Ones.

Singapore, 1942. As Japanese troops sweep down Malaysia and into Singapore, a village is ransacked, leaving only two survivors and one tiny child.
 
In a neighboring village, seventeen-year-old Wang Di is strapped into the back of a troop carrier and shipped off to a Japanese military brothel where she is forced into sexual slavery as a “comfort woman.” After sixty years of silence, what she saw and experienced still haunts her.

In the year 2000, twelve-year-old Kevin is sitting beside his ailing grandmother when he overhears a mumbled confession. He sets out to discover the truth, wherever it might lead, setting in motion a chain of events he never could have foreseen.

Weaving together two time lines and two very big secrets, this stunning debut opens a window on a little-known period of history, revealing the strength and bravery shown by numerous women in the face of terrible cruelty. Drawing in part on her family’s experiences, Jing-Jing Lee has crafted a profoundly moving, unforgettable novel about human resilience, the bonds of family and the courage it takes to confront the past.

Hardcover: 352 Pages
Publisher: Hanover Square Press; Original edition (May 7, 2019)


My Review: 

I will say that I was disappointed when How We Disappeared arrived. I was caught up by the incredibly gorgeous tropical cover and thinking of how great it would look in pics, that when the more plain black ARC arrived I was a bit sad. What I wasn't disappointed in however, was the incredibly moving and beautiful story I found within its pages. I have read several books, fiction and non-fiction about the so-called "comfort women" of the WWII era--young women and girls forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military in brothels. It is a disturbing subject and one that isn't easy to read or think about, but I try to read historical fiction from different perspectives and viewpoints and I think these women's voices are incredibly powerful and important. Author Jing-Jing Lee has incorporated some of her own family's history and experience in Singapore during WWII for the novel and has written a compelling story that while hard to classify as an enjoyable read, is certainly an engrossing one. 

The book alternates from the voices of Wang Di, a young village woman who is taken from her family and forced into sexual slavery for nearly three years during the Japanese occupation of Singapore, and Kevin, a twelve-year-old boy, living in Singapore with his parents and grandmother. Wang Di tells of the war years as well as Singapore in 2000 where Kevin's story is also set. It isn't completely clear in the beginning how these two lives will intersect but the pieces come together well and I found myself equally caught up in their stories. I liked the way Lee wove the stories, setting and times together and how the disappearing in the title applied to both characters, how they felt about themselves and how others failed to see them. I finished the book a few days ago and can't stop thinking about it and our contrasting human powers for cruelty and kindness, despair and resilience, overwhelming fear and incredible strength and courage. If you need an easy, breezy book, How We Disappeared is not it, but it is a well-written story that will touch you with its poignancy.

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Author Notes: Jing-Jing Lee is the author of the novel, If I Could Tell You. Her poems have been published in Ceriph, Poetry Quarterly, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, and Moving Words 2011: A Poetry Anthology. Jing moved to Europe in her early 20s and started to pursue writing full-time. In 2011, she gained a Masters of Studies in Creative Writing from the University of Oxford. She now lives in Amsterdam with her husband and is working on her second book of fiction. When she’s not working on her novel-in-progress or reading (or taking photographs), she can be found here and on twitter.

Connect with Jing-Jing on her website, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Food Inspiration:

There was so much food in How We Disappeared, even with the wartime years, when supplies were meager and the fare simpler, there was no shortage or food inspiration. I had a couple of pages of notes that included egg, water spinach, biscuits, congee--(several mentions with different toppings and additions to this simple rice gruel), pork with salted cabbage and peppercorns, chicken rice, coffee, mangosteens, roast duck and chicken, soup stock with fishcake, raw stuffed okra, silky tofu and straw mushrooms, sweet dumplings and cakes, noodle stalls, Oolong tea, boiled rice in banana leaf, fried shrimp, pickled mustard greens, tapioca, banana, chicken wings in coconut milk with freshly ground curry, root vegetables (cassava and potato,tapioca) home-pickled vegetables, curry, mangoes, silky soybean curd, cups of hot Milo, white bread with margarine and jam, a twist of radish omelet, pandas cake, oyster omelet, soft-boiled egg, pork dumplings, sweet potatoes leaves stir0fried with chili paste, sweet potato porridge, various kinds of kueh (dessert pastries, cakes usually made from gulitnous rice),  salted fish, vegetable soup, tangerines,char su rice with no cucumbers and extra chili, peanut and pigs tail soup, lotus root soup, stir-fried greens, and chocolate Hiro cake.


For my book inspired dish, I thought about making my favorite hawker dish of Singapore street noodles, and considered congee--although I made it fairly recently for a post and didn't want to repeat it. Finally I decided on something very simple--lunch that Kevin's mom left him of white rice, stir-fried choy sum, and three pieces of luncheon meet. (I left off the luncheon meat of course). ;-) I had wanted to stir-fry some water spinach (ong choy here) as it starts out the book, but it isn't as easy to find as choy sum at my local grocery store. Speaking of local, the choy sum and the radishes I put on top of the rice (I was going to pickle them but ran out of time) are local ingredients. I like my greens with garlic and looked at a few recipes online before tossing together my own.


Stir-Fried Choy Sum with Garlic Sauce
Inspired by a bunch of recipes, but tossed together by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 3 to 4 as a Side Dish)

Choy Sum:
2 bunches choy sum (about 1 & 1/4 lbs or so), chopped as desired
1 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil or peanut oil + 1/2 tsp sesame oil

Garlic Sauce
1 Tbsp coconut oil
4 to 5 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
1 Tbsp low-sodium Tamari or soy sauce
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp corn starch
1 tsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp water
salt and black pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add choy sum--blanch for about 2 minutes, drain, and pat dry. 

While water is boiling, heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add minced garlic and saute for abut 2 minutes, until fragrant. Scrap cooked garlic from the pan into a small bowl, add tamari/soy sauce, oyster sauce, corn starch, sesame oil and water, whisking together until well blended. Taste and season with salt and black pepper if desired and set aside.

Heat a large wok or saute pan and add oil. When pan is hot and oil is at smoking point, add the choy sum, and saute, stirring regularly for 2 to 3 minutes. Add sauce and stir into the choy sum, cooking for about 2 minutes. 

Plate, serve with a scattering of sesame seeds if desired and enjoy!

Note: I just used some leftover white rice, topped with thin slivers of radish for crunch.   


Notes/Results: Just a simple, fairly quick to put together light lunch or dinner of garlicky greens and rice. Sauteing the garlic softens it somewhat, but it definitely plays a big flavor role, so you can reduce it if you want something milder. The sauce would be equally as good on other greens--kale, chard, spinach, bok choy... as the garlic, sesame, tamari and oyster sauce work well with the slight bitterness greens can have. You can of course add your favorite protein to round things out. I actually had some tofu poke salad that I enjoyed with my meal, and my leftovers will likely be topped with a soft-boiled egg tomorrow. I will happily make it again.


I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.


Note: A review copy of "How We Disappeared" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.  
 
You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.

 

Thursday, May 9, 2019

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Before She Was Found" by Heather Gudenkauf, Served with a Recipe for Cheese Pizza (with Pesto, Artichoke Hearts & Black Olives)

One more day until Friday! I am excited for the weekend and excited to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for Before She Was Found, a new mystery/thriller by Heather Gudenkauf. Accompanying my review is a recipe for an easy Cheese Pizza. While the dish is inspired by my reading, I changed up to experiment with a keto-friendly egg and cheese crust and topped it with pesto, artichoke hearts, black olives and plenty of cheese.


Publisher's Blurb:

A gripping thriller about three young girlfriends, a dark obsession and a chilling crime that shakes up a quiet Iowa town.

For twelve-year-old Cora Landry and her friends Violet and Jordyn, it was supposed to be an ordinary sleepover—movies and Ouija and talking about boys. But when they decide to sneak out to go to the abandoned rail yard on the outskirts of town, little do they know that their innocent games will have dangerous consequences.
 
Later that night, Cora Landry is discovered on the tracks, bloody and clinging to life, her friends nowhere to be found. Soon their small rural town is thrust into a maelstrom. Who would want to hurt a young girl like Cora—and why? In an investigation that leaves no stone unturned, everyone is a suspect and no one can be trusted—not even those closest to Cora.
 
Before She Was Found is a timely and gripping thriller about friendship and betrayal, about the power of social pressure and the price of needing to fit in. It is about the great lengths a parent will go to protect their child and keep them safe—even if that means burying the truth, no matter the cost.

Hardcover: 368 Pages
Publisher: Park Row; Original edition (April 16, 2019)



My Review:

Before She Was Found is my first Heather Gudenkauf book and one reason I jumped on this tour as I have been meaning to give her a try. The other thing that drew me in was the similarity of the plot description to the Slender Man case from a few years ago in which two 12-year-old girls in Wisconsin, lured another friend to the woods and stabbed her in order to impress a creepy Internet urban legend. Gudenkauf notes in the afterword that this is where the inspiration from the book came from, although there are differences in characters, settings and plot lines. I won't go into much detail in this review as I don't want to spoil it.

The story is told from different points of view and methods--a therapist's notes, Cora's journal, texts between friends, etc., and goes back in forth from the night Cora is found on the train tracks of the abandoned rail yard having been attacked to the time before she was found. Gudenkauf does a skillful job in weaving the different perspectives together and building the suspense, with several twists and turns. There are a lot of characters--the three friends, Cora, Violet and Jordyn, their families, the doctors and police involved, other friends and a somewhat creepy teacher, which kept me interested and guessing as to what happened and who was involved. The down side is that it also made it hard to get to know or bond with any one character and I wanted to understand some of the different motives more than I did. Still, overall I enjoyed Before She Was Found; the story engaged me, the pages flew by, and I would definitely read more from this author. 

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Author Notes: Heather Gudenkauf is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and Not a Sound.  Heather lives in Iowa with her family.

Connect with her on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.






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Food Inspiration:

The food in Before She Was Found was a bit limited, but there were mentions like gingerbread and pitchie moloko ("birds milk cake" from Russia), ice cream, green rivers (a classic soda shop/diner drink of 7-Up and lime syrup), pizza, a turtle sundae, hot chocolate and fries, oatmeal, chocolate or strawberry milkshakes, peanut butter sandwich, butterscotch candy, bagels, donuts and orange juice, cupcakes, toast with butter and peach jam, pasta and wine, and a bunch of drinks and cocktails as one of the characters grandfather ran a bar and remembered people's drinks rather than their names.
 
For my bookish dish, I chose cheese pizza as when Cora and Violet first become friends, one of the things Cora notes they have in common is a love of cheese pizza.


Why not a regular cheese pizza like the ones the girls enjoyed in the book? well, I have been wanting to experiment with a gluten-free crust and wanted something very easy for a weeknight dinner. my friend has been experimenting with a keto lifestyle lately and suggested I try this one from DietDoctor.com. I like the simplicity of it--just eggs and cheese in the crust (plus a little pepper I added). I prefer non-tomato sauces and have been craving pesto and I thought that the brine of the artichoke hearts and olives to cut some of the rich cheesy-ness.
 

Keto Cheese Pizza (with Pesto, Artichoke Hearts & Black Olives)
Slightly Adapted from DietDoctor.com
(Makes 2 to 4 Servings)

Crust:
4 large eggs
6 oz shredded cheese--preferably mozzarella and/or Provolone
black pepper and oregano if desired

Toppings:
pesto or pizza sauce of choice
shredded cheese of choice (I used a mix of Parmesan, Romano, and cheddar)
canned or jarred artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
black olives 
dried basil or oregano if desired

Pre-heat over to 400 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet or pizza pan with parchment paper or olive oil cooking spray.

Crack the eggs into a medium bowl and stir them with a fork until blended. Stir in the shredded cheese and mix together well.

Spread out thinly on your prepared pan, using a rubber spatula. (Note: I used two personal pizza pans and divided the mix between them.

Bake for about 15 minutes--until crust turns golden. Remove and let sit for a few minutes. (After it cools a little, I like to loosen the crust from a pan with my spatula before putting on the toppings.)

Turn oven to 450 degrees F. Spread pesto or sauce over pizza crust. Top with artichoke hearts, cheese and black olives--or toppings of choice. Sprinkle with a little dried oregano or basil if desired.

Bake for 7 -10 minutes or until cheese is melted and top is golden brown.

Serve and enjoy!


Notes/Results: Like a cross between pizza and frittata, but chewy and good and enough to solve my  pizza craving, I liked this pizza. It is rich though and I topped one of my two crusts and found myself only eating half of it. (The other half became today's breakfast and I saved the other crust to make another time.) If you don't want to bother with making crust, or frozen crust or pulverizing cauliflower rice if you want to go gluten-free, it is a good way to go and very easy. I will make  it again.


I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.


Note: A review copy of "Before She Was Gone" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.  
 
You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.

 

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of The Lieutenant's Nurse by Sara Ackerman, Served with Tropical Fruit Salad with Lime-Honey Dressing & Toasted Coconut Chips

I am very excited to be the final stop on the TLC Book Tour for The Lieutenant's Nurse by Sara Ackerman. It's easy to tell from the books I read and review on this blog that World War II historical fiction is a favorite genre of mine and Ackerman's second novel is set here on Oahu, making it an even more tempting read. I've paired my review with a simple Tropical Fruit Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing & Toasted Coconut Chips that was inspired by the breakfast scenes on the SS Lurline in the book.


November, 1941. She’s never even seen the ocean before, but Eva Cassidy has her reasons for making the crossing to Hawaii, and they run a lot deeper than escaping a harsh Michigan winter. Newly enlisted as an Army Corps nurse, Eva is stunned by the splendor she experiences aboard the steamship SS Lurline; even more so by Lt. Clark Spencer, a man she is drawn to but who clearly has secrets of his own. But Eva’s past—and the future she’s trying to create—means that she’s not free to follow her heart. Clark is a navy intelligence officer, and he warns her that the United States won’t be able to hold off joining the war for long, but nothing can prepare them for the surprise attack that will change the world they know.
 
In the wake of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Eva and her fellow nurses band together for the immense duty of keeping the American wounded alive. And the danger that finds Eva threatens everything she holds dear. Amid the chaos and heartbreak, Eva will have to decide whom to trust and how far she will go to protect those she loves.
 
Set in the vibrant tropical surroundings of the Pacific, The Lieutenant’s Nurse is an evocative, emotional WWII story of love, friendship and the resilient spirit of the heroic nurses of Pearl Harbor.

Paperback: 352 Pages
Publisher: MIRA; Original edition (March 5, 2019)

My Review:

I had the pleasure of being on the Instagram tour for Sara Ackerman's first book Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers two years ago and hosted it as part of my virtual foodie book club, Cook the Books, earlier this year so I knew I was in for a great read with The Lieutenant's Nurse before I even opened the cover. The book starts soon before the attack on Pearl Harbor, as nurse Eva Cassidy is on board the steamship SS Lurline, headed to Oahu from San Francisco. A job as an Army Corps nurse and a boyfriend await her in Hawaii, as does a chance to hopefully leave her past and the secrets she holds behind her in Michigan,  Eva has regrets about leaving her younger sister behind, recovering from polio, but hopes to bring her out with her at some point. On the ship, she meets Lieutenant Clark Spencer and is immediately attracted and intrigued by him. Clark is in navel intelligence and his feelings for Eva have him passing on his suspicions about the probability of attack from the Japanese. If you know your history, I am sure you can guess what happens shortly after the Lurline docks on Oahu and soon Eva and Clark are caught up in the horrors of war. 

As in her first book, Ackerman does an outstanding job in describing the dichotomy of a beautiful island paradise, caught up in the graphic ugliness of war. Eva and Clark were characters that won my heart immediately and I liked the intrigue in the plot and that the author went in with the "who knew what and when" about the Pearl Harbor attack angle. I have read my share of fiction and non-fiction on the subject and I find the advance-knowledge conspiracy theories fascinate me. This is a romance for sure, emotions are heightened by the events going on around the main characters and some of the side characters, but it is also about Eva's growth and bravery. Living on Oahu, it's always fun to read about places I know in a time in history and Ackerman's vivid writing brings it to life. I only wanted more after the final chapter and I am already looking look forward to her next book.

If you want to win a copy of The Lieutenant's Nurse, head over to my Instagram account (here), where I am giving one away.

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Author Notes: Sara is the bestselling author of Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers. Born and raised in Hawaii, she studied journalism and earned graduate degrees in psychology and Chinese medicine. She blames Hawaii for her addiction to writing, and sees no end to its untapped stories. When she’s not writing or teaching, you’ll find her in the mountains or in the ocean. She currently lives on the Big Island with her boyfriend and a houseful of bossy animals. Find out more about Sara and her books at www.ackermanbooks.com.

Connect with Sara on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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Food Inspiration:

There was food to be found in The Lieutenant's Nurse--especially while on the Lurline, then some classic 1940s wartime fare on Oahu. Mentions included: ship launch appetizers of cheese balls, pigs in a blanket, pate, champagne, shipboard dinner with lobster tails, steak,French-fried potatoes, glazed carrots and peas and rice, pineapple juice, Moscow Mules, made to order omelet, steak and eggs, breast of chicken with wild rice, glacé  pineapple and truffle sauce, bakes Alaska and petits, fours, rice balls radishes and pickled pickled plums wrapped seaweed, strawberry lemonade with a splash of vodka, strawberry waffle, a Shirley Temple, mention of guava trees, banana tress and big fat prawns in a stream at the North Shore, a Royal Hawaiian Pineapple Cocktail, canned sardines and Saloon Pilot crackers, mincemeat pie, hot dogs and Coca Cola, coffee and malasadas, soldiers running from the attack with pockets of maraschino cherries, cheese and pickles, egg salad sandwiches and lemonade, fried chicken and rice with seaweed (aka furikake rice), sugar cane and pineapple fields.
 

My first thought was to recreate the Royal Hawaiian Pineapple Cocktail, but my friend Debra did it too well already on her review so instead I turned to the description of breakfast on the Lurline--"plates of strawberries, pineapple and banana with bowls of shredded coconut" and "Tiers of cinnamon buns, pecan snails, and twisted donuts..." and "pancakes, waffles and tropical syrup..." I decided to focus on the fruit and make a breakfast salad with a tropical syrup-style dressing of lime juice and honey and a crunchy topping of toasted coconut chips. Wanting to be a little healthier with my dressing, I used an Ellie Krieger recipe I like with fruit that uses honey instead of white sugar and left out the mint.


Tropical Fruit Salad with Lime-Honey Dressing & Toasted Coconut
Dressing Slightly Adapted from Ellie Krieger's Radiance Salad at EllieKrieger.com
(Serves 3-4) 

1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered
2 cups fresh pineapple cut into chunks
1 large banana or two apples banana, peeled and sliced
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
zest of 1 lime
toasted coconut flakes or chips

Place fruit into a large bowl. whisk honey, lime juice and lime zest together in a smaller bowl. When serving, pour the dressing over fruit and stir to combine. Right before serving, top with coconut flakes/chips. Enjoy!


Notes/Results: A very simple fruit salad that can be adapted with what fruit you have on hand or in season. The lime dressing is both sweet and tangy and the honey and lime keep the bananas from browning too much. Put the coconut on at the very end so it remains crunchy and this is quite a tasty little salad that would also be good over yogurt or a bowl of overnight oats, or even atop a pancake or waffle. I would happily make it again.


Linking up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where we are having Spring Canapés as a theme. I think this fruit salad with it's refreshing dressing would make a fine lunch or dinner starter.



I'm also linking this yummy fruit salad up at Souper Sundays here at Kahakai Kitchen. You can join in the Souper Sunday fun by linking up your soups, salads, or sandwiches on the weekly post, here


Finally, I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.


Note: A review copy of "The Lieutenant's Nurse" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.  
 
You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.