Showing posts with label giveaway. Show all posts
Showing posts with label giveaway. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Hiding Place" by C.J.Tudor, Served with a Recipe for Tuna Melt Sliders {and a Book Giveway!}

I was in the mood for a good thriller this week and so I'm excited to be a TLC Book Tour stop for The Hiding Place by C. J. Tudor, with plenty of thrills and chills. Accompanying my review is a tasty little snack, Tuna Melt Sliders, inspired by my reading and a chance for a Kahakai Kitchen reader to win a copy of the book.

Publisher's Blurb:

The thrilling second novel from the author of The Chalk Man, about a teacher with a hidden agenda who returns to settle scores at a school he once attended, only to uncover a darker secret than he could have imagined.

Joe never wanted to come back to Arnhill. After the way things ended with his old gang–the betrayal, the suicide, the murder–and after what happened when his sister went missing, the last thing he wanted to do was return to his hometown. But Joe doesn’t have a choice. Because judging by what was done to that poor Morton kid, what happened all those years ago to Joe’s sister is happening again. And only Joe knows who is really at fault.

Lying his way into a teaching job at his former high school is the easy part. Facing off with former friends who are none too happy to have him back in town–while avoiding the enemies he’s made in the years since–is tougher. But the hardest part of all will be returning to that abandoned mine where it all went wrong and his life changed forever, and finally confronting the shocking, horrifying truth about Arnhill, his sister, and himself. Because for Joe, the worst moment of his life wasn’t the day his sister went missing.

It was the day she came back.

With the same virtuosic command of character and pacing she displayed in The Chalk Man, C. J. Tudor has once again crafted an extraordinary novel that brilliantly blends harrowing psychological suspense, a devilishly puzzling mystery, and enough shocks and thrills to satisfy even the most seasoned reader.

Hardcover: 288 Pages
Publisher: Crown (February 5, 2019)

My Review:

I love a good psychological thriller and when you through in some elements of horror, it's even better, so The Hiding Place is right up my alley. It's dark, creepy, and has a definite Stephen King vibe (the tagline channels one of my favorite King novels, "The worst day of his life wasn't when his sister went was the day she came back") but it has its own flavor and originality, and at 288 pages, a much lesser page count so if you aren't a King fan, you should still give it a try. For the most part the tighter plot works well with the pacing, and building of suspense--although it moved a bit slowly at first and I would have liked a deeper exploration of the town of Arnhill and its residents and some of the "whys" of what happened there. Joe, an anti-hero especially in the beginning, is an interesting character, I started out disliking him but he grew on me. I think the mix of thriller with just enough horror was a good one and will be good for those who don't consider themselves horror fans. The book does get graphic at times, but I found it more spooky and chilling than outright scary. I did read it alone at night without any fear or mental trauma ;-) and it had me turning the pages to reach the end to see if my guesses were right (some were, some were not). 

Overall, I really enjoyed The Hiding Place and if you like thrills and atmospheric chills, you likely will too. (You can enter to win at copy of your own at the bottom of this post.) The Hiding Place is C. J. Tudor's second book.When her first, The Chalk Man, came out I heard good things and checked it out from the library, but never found the time to read it. Now, I am going to go back and try again.


Author Notes: C. J. TUDOR is the author of The Chalk Man, and lives in Nottingham, England, with her partner and three-year-old daughter. Over the years she has worked as a copywriter, television presenter, voice-over, and dog walker. She is now thrilled to be able to write full-time, and doesn’t miss chasing wet dogs through muddy fields all that much.

Connect with C.J. Tudor on Facebook or Twitter.


Food Inspiration:

There is not a lot of good food mentioned in this book and definitely the sometimes graphic scenes don't lend themselves to thinking about food. There was mostly cafeteria food and pub food and a lot of alcohol. Mentions included: bad curry, McDonald's, fish-and-chips, penny candy, Wham bars (there were several mentions of this nostalgic UK candy),  juice, coffee, tea, Red Bull, Coke, bourbon, margaritas, pizza, frozen dinners, steak-and-kidney pie, Diet coke, cheese and ham baps (a sandwich of sorts made on a round, sweet roll), pork pie, chips, chocolate ices, Guinness, whiskey, chicken sandwich, pasta, potato broth, toast, Diamond White (a brand of cider), frozen fish fingers, grapes, and crisps.

I liked the description of the school cafeteria going from burgers and fried onions when Joe was there to chicken and rice, vegetable pasta and salad, and that he said that he "blamed Jamie Oliver" for the changes. I finally decided to combine a cafeteria tuna sandwich with the melted cheese bap (a regional British or Scottish bread roll or bun or sandwich made from a soft bun--see this recipe for a sausage bap) and make tuna melts for my book-inspired dish. For the bap roll itself, a small hamburger bun would possibly be the most accurate size-wise, but the sweet and soft part made me think of the local favorite--King's Hawaiian rolls.

I will confess that I never really saw any appeal in tuna melts growing up, much preferring my tuna sandwich cold. Then, several years ago, a friend of mine made them open-faced for work meetings at his house and his were really tasty. I hadn't had one in years and decided to make my version slider-style, with the King's Hawaiian rolls. 

Tuna Melt Sliders
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 8 Sliders)

1 can good tuna (I use an Italian oil-packed), drained
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 small stalk celery, finely chopped
1 Tbsp dill pickle relish
1 Tbsp capers, drained
1 tsp English or stone-ground mustard
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp (i used roasted) garlic powder
8  slider buns/rolls of choice (I used King's Hawaiian Rolls)
8 small slices cheddar cheese (cut to fit roll)

Preheat oven or toaster oven broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.

Combine tuna, mayo, celery, relish, capers, and mustard together in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and black pepper and evenly mixed.

Melt butter in microwave and stir in garlic powder.

Separate rolls into 8 bottoms and tops place on baking sheet, brushing the cut side of each with the garlic butter. Place a small scoop of tuna on each roll bottom and top tuna mixture with a slice of cheese. 

Place the baking sheet under the broiler and broil until the cheese is melted, the bun tops are toasted and the tuna is warmed. 

Combine the tops and bottoms of the rolls and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Notes/Results: OK, these were pretty darn good--the combination of the tuna with the tangy relish, salty and briny capers, sharp cheddar, garlic butter, and sweet rolls worked well together. The little sandwiches went together really quickly and easily. I just made four and ate them with fruit for a quick dinner. I plan to make the other four with my remaining ingredients tonight. Although they are not the prettiest of sandwiches, they are tasty and I will make them again.

Linking this open-faced sandwich up at this week's Souper Sundays, here at Kahakai Kitchen, where anyone can share a soup, salad, or sandwich creation. 

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.


The publisher has generously allowed me to give a copy of The Hiding Place to one lucky U.S. reader! 

To enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below, leave a comment please (Because I like to read them!) ;-) telling me what your favorite cafeteria food was growing up and/or why you want to win a copy of The Hiding Place.

There are a couple of other optional ways to get more entries to win: Tweet about this giveaway or follow me on Twitter (@DebinHawaii), and/or author C.J. Tudor (@cjtudor),  on Twitter
(Note: You can still get the extra entries even if you already follow me or C.J. Tudor on Twitter.)

Deadline for entry is Friday, March 1st. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good Luck!!

Note: A review copy of "The Hiding Place" 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, January 10, 2019

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Widows" by Jess Montgomery, Served with a Recipe for Spicy Cinnamon Fried Apples on Toast {and a Book Giveaway!}

Happy Thursday! It's been a few weeks since I did a book review and so I am very happy to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for The Widows, a historical mystery novel by Jess Montgomery. Paired with my review are some tasty Spicy Cinnamon Fried Apples on Toast inspired by my reading, and there is a chance to win a copy of The Widows at the bottom of the post.

Publisher's Blurb:

Kinship, Ohio, 1924: When Lily Ross learns that her husband, Daniel Ross, the town’s widely respected sheriff, is killed while transporting a prisoner, she is devastated and vows to avenge his death.

Hours after his funeral, a stranger appears at her door. Marvena Whitcomb, a coal miner’s widow, is unaware that Daniel has died, and begs to speak with him about her missing daughter.

From miles away but worlds apart, Lily and Marvena’s lives collide as they realize that Daniel was not the man that either of them believed him to be–and that his murder is far more complex than either of them could have imagined.

Inspired by the true story of Ohio’s first female sheriff, this is a powerful debut about two women’s search for justice as they take on the corruption at the heart of their community.

Hardcover: 336 Pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books (January 8, 2019)

My Review:

As you can probably tell by the number of historical novels I review on this blog, historical fiction is a favorite genre of mine, especially when it takes me into the past and to aspects of history that I am not familiar with. In the case of The Widows, I was transported to the Appalachians and rural Ohio coal mines in 1925 where I learned about the attempts to unionize the mines and provide the workers with fair employment practices and safer working conditions, all why trying to solve a murder and a disappearance in a book with two strong female leads, based on real-life women. The character of Lily Ross is loosely based on Ohio’s first female sheriff, Maude Collins, appointed after her husband was killed during a traffic stop. Jess Montgomery had her character face a similar circumstance but made the question of who killed Lily’s husband Daniel the main mystery the book is centered around. As she investigates his death, Lily discovers aspects of Daniel’s life hidden from her including Marvena Whitcomb, also a widow, with a past that intersects with Daniel’s. Marvena is leading the local miners and their families in battling Daniel’s half-brother and his mining company against their unsafe work practices, all too real to both woman as Lily’s father and  Marvena’s husband died in the mines while trying to rescue miners after a cave-in. Marvena’s character is also loosely based a real person, Mary Harris (Mother) Jones, the labor activist who co-founded the Industrial Workers of the World. Both lead characters are strong and doing what they need to do to take care of their families and communities. Lily steps into Daniel’s role of Sheriff while Marvena sells moonshine to support her daughter, Frankie. Marvena also spent time as a ‘working girl’ at the local boarding house, something her older daughter, Eula was doing when she turned up missing and Daniel was looking into her disappearance when he was killed, purportedly by Marvena’s brother Tom. Despite their dissimilar backgrounds, both women loved Daniel and find themselves working together and forging a relationship despite their differing backgrounds and economic levels.

I enjoyed the setting of the book and the way Montgomery wove the stories together, although The Widows isn’t a fast-moving mystery, it was absorbing and kept me engaged throughout. The mysteries—Tom’s death and Eula’s disappearance, were compelling, and while I guessed correctly about most of what happened, there were still some good twists to the story. I was interested in both Lily and Marvena’s characters and the fact it is a debut novel and is so well researched and written is impressive. I am happy to hear that The Widows is the first book in The Kinship Series and look forward to spending more time in the town of Kinship and its surrounding community. If you enjoy historical fiction, books set in rural Ohio and the surrounding area, stories with strong empowered female characters, mysteries, and learning more about American history, add The Widows to your TBR list. (You can enter a giveaway of a copy at the bottom of this post.) 

Author Notes: Jess Montgomery is the Literary Life columnist for the Dayton Daily News and Executive Director of the renowned Antioch Writers’ Workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Based on early chapters of The Widows, Jess was awarded an Ohio Arts Council individual artist’s grant for literary arts and the John E. Nance Writer-in-Residence at Thurber House in Columbus. She lives in her native state of Ohio.

You can connect with Jess on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Food Inspiration:

There is food to be found in The Widows, and often it helps to illustrate the difference in lifestyle for Lily and Marvena. While Lily's table is more bountiful--even what she cooks for the people in the jail's holding cells, Marvena is making due with less and its often food she gathers from the nearby woodlands--berries, greens, mushrooms, fiddlehead ferns, pokeweed, black raspberries, and the vegetables she grows in her small garden. Montgomery speaks in the afterward about the research she did to capture the experience of the Appalachians in Ohio in the 1920s from the scenes in the mines, life in rural communities, and of course the food. Lily's mother's Dried Apple Stack Cake is based on her family recipe. (Looking online for examples, the cake looked delicious but far too work-intensive for me to attempt to make this week.) ;-) My list of some of the food mentioned in the book included tinned milk, cheese, chopped steak, ice cream, coffee, biscuits and gravy, eggs, bacon, potato and onion, bologna sandwiches, an after funeral buffet of fried chicken, deviled eggs, ham salad, corn relish, and apple and peach pies, roasted chestnuts, peppermint and butterscotch button candies, good salt ham, fresh-baked bread, green beans and corn, black raspberry jam and apple butter, corn pone with sorghum syrup, buttermilk pie, broth and foot vegetables, muffins, tea--chamomile and sassafras (a favorite character Nana says, "Life is hard. Have tea."--something I agree with), squirrel stew with root vegetables, beets and spring peas, soup beans made with dried pinto beans, onion, bacon fat and water, taffy, cornbread, buttermilk, beef stew, deer jerky, carrots and green onions, fritters, a fried apple stack cake, canned peaches, pickles, and jams.

I ended up taking my inspiration for my book-inspired dish from a mention of apples fried up with brown sugar, butter and cinnamon that Lily serves to Marvena in the jail cell: 

"Marvena snatches the plate through the food slot, carries it back to the cot, sits. She eats a bite of good salted ham. She has to keep herself from moaning with pleasure and relief. Next she takes a bite of apples, fried up with brown sugar and butter and cinnamon. Fancy, rich food. Marvena hates to admit it, but Lily's a good cook. She clears the plate quickly."

Although I kept the brown sugar, cinnamon and butter of the many recipes I looked at, I decided to add a pinch of salt and some (Aleppo) chile pepper to my apples, just to make them more interesting, and to serve them on thick slices of toast.

Spicy Cinnamon Fried Apples
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 2)

2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon 
1/2 tsp of your favorite chile pepper or cayenne (I used Aleppo pepper), or to taste 
tiny pinch of salt
2 apples of choice (I used Gala), cored and sliced
bread and butter, if desired, to serve 
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat until it is melted and begins to bubble; stir the sugar, cinnamon, chile pepper and salt into the hot butter. Add the apples and cook until apples begin to break down and soften. (This can take anywhere from about 8 to 12 minutes depending on how thick you sliced them and how soft you want them--I like my apples to be tender but not mushy so mine took about 10 minutes.

Toast bread and butter if desired. Serve with the apples and their juices spooned on top. Enjoy!

Notes/Results: I love apples just about any way they can be served and this simple preparation didn't disappoint. I liked the combination of the sweet and slightly spicy sauce with a touch of tartness from the apples. The Aleppo pepper was present and give a little kick and warmth, but wasn't too spicy--just the way I like it (though the fried apples would still be perfectly delicious without it). Spooned over the toasted bread these apples made for a tasty after dinner snack. I made enough apples for another serving and will probably top my morning oatmeal with them. I will definitely 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.

***Book Giveaway!***

The publisher is generously providing a copy of The Widows to give away to a lucky reader (U.S./Canada addresses, please) here at Kahakai Kitchen.

To enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below, leave a comment please (Because I like to read them!) ;-) telling me your favorite era(s) in history to read about and/or why you would like to win a copy of the book

There are a couple of other optional ways to get more entries to win: Tweet about this giveaway or follow me on Twitter (@DebinHawaii), and/or author Jess Montgomery (@JessM_Author), and/or Minotaur Books (@MinotaurBooks) on Twitter
(Note: You can still get the extra entries even if you already follow me, Jess Montgomery, and/or Minotaur Books on Twitter.)

Deadline for entry is Monday, January 21st.

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Note: A review copy of "The Widows" 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.

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "When We Found Home" by Susan Mallery, Served with a Recipe for Macadamia Nut, Chia Seed & Banana Pancakes with Fruit and Coconut Syrup

Happy Aloha Friday! I'm kicking off the weekend as today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for When We Found Home, a new novel by Susan Mallery. Accompanying my review are some easy and health-ish Macadamia Nut, Chia Seed & Banana Pancakes with Fruit & Coconut Syrup. There's also a chance to enter a tour-wide giveaway for a prize pack at the bottom of the post.

Publisher's Blurb:

Life is meant to be savored, but that’s not easy with no family, limited prospects and a past you’d rather not talk about. Still, Callie Smith doesn’t know how to feel when she discovers she has a brother and a sister–Malcolm, who grew up with affection, wealth and privilege, and Keira, a streetwise twelve-year-old. Callie doesn’t love being alone, but at least it’s safe. Despite her trepidation, she moves into the grand family home with her siblings and grandfather on the shores of Lake Washington, hoping just maybe this will be the start of a whole new life.

But starting over can be messy. Callie and Keira fit in with each other, but not with their posh new lifestyle, leaving Malcolm feeling like the odd man out in his own home. He was clever enough to turn a sleepy Seattle mail-order food catalog into an online gourmet powerhouse, yet he can’t figure out how to help his new sisters feel secure. Becoming a family will take patience, humor, a little bit of wine and a whole lot of love. But love isn’t Malcolm’s strong suit…until a beautiful barista teaches him that an open heart, like the family table, can always make room for more.

In this emotional, funny and heartfelt story, Susan Mallery masterfully explores the definition of a modern family—blended by surprise, not by choice—and how those complicated relationships can add unexpected richness to life.

Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: HQN Books (July 10, 2018)

My Review:

I have only read a few of Susan Mallery books (this is the last one I reviewed) and they are generally feel-good books that are perfect for summer reading. Heavier subjects are touched on, but ultimately they are about love, friendship, family, and relationships. When We Found Home follows suit with the story of three half-siblings Malcolm, Callie, and Keira who are brought together by their grandfather--each looking for love and acceptance. The trio grew up differently with Malcolm brought into the fold as a pre-teen and then Callie--who needs a fresh start after a big mistake, and Keira--a twelve-year-old in foster care, are discovered later (after their deadbeat, woman-in-every-port father passes away and Grandfather Alberto learns of their existence). 

The book is set in Seattle, where the family owns Alberto's Alfresco, a successful high-end food distribution company that Malcolm runs, along with his best friend Santiago who is the company's CFO. In the building that houses the company's headquarters is a coffee bar with an attractive part-time barista named Delaney, a former finance executive who is now pursuing a new life by becoming a Naturopath after losing her fiance. Malcolm is attracted, Keira be-friended, and Delaney's story is a big focus of the book, both her own story and her romance with Malcolm. Callie and Santiago are a second potential couple and they, Keira, Grandfather Alberto, and his housekeeper (and perhaps more) Carmen make up the rest of the main and secondary characters. The romances are fine (although Callie and Santiago seemed a bit too insta-love to me), but it is in the family dynamics, the building relationships between the siblings, and the second chances for characters that are seeking and/or hurting that When We Found Home excels. 

There is good humor--especially from Keira and poignant moments (also many from Keira) that made the book enjoyable and made me care about the characters. There are no big surprises here, but a heartwarming and uplifting story that drew me in with the Seattle and somewhat foodie setting. The 400+ pages were enjoyable from start to finish and I think anyone who likes family dynamics, romance, and second chance and start-again books will like this one. 

Author Notes: #1 NYT bestselling author Susan Mallery writes heartwarming, humorous novels about the relationships that define our lives-family, friendship, romance. She’s known for putting nuanced characters in emotional situations that surprise readers to laughter. Beloved by millions, her books have been translated into 28 languages. Susan lives in Washington with her husband, two cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur. Visit her at

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


Food Inspiration:

Susan Mallery books never seem to have a shortage of food in them and with the family being food purveyors there were plenty of food mentions that included coffee and espresso, pasta--rotini and fusilli, marinara sauce, macrons, biscotti, cinnamon rolls, jelly donuts, and a children's party offering of PB & J sandwiches, carrot, cucumber and celery sticks, organic apple juice, punch, mac-n-cheese, mini hot dogs made into cars with tomato and cucumber wheels, There was oatmeal, poached eggs and fruit, an antipasto plate, cookies, steak, dark chocolate, expensive hot cocoa mix and mixes for minestrone soup and spicy sangria (from the food company's gift baskets), macadamia pancakes with bacon and fresh fruit, sandwiches, brownies, pizza and salad, tea with scones and tea sandwiches, wine, Dr. Pepper, chocolate cake, brandy, stuffed mushrooms, prime rib, mashed potatoes, and cheesecake, puff pastry appetizers, Cosmos, Shrimp & Crab Louie and BLT salads, mini mushroom quiches, salmon, potato casserole, martinis, egg and sausage sandwiches, chocolate croissants, Mexican food, and ice cream with chocolate sauce. 

In determining what to make for my book-inspired dish, I considered the two recipes in the back of the book--Shrimp with Lemon Linguine and Triple Chocolate Biscotti Brownies, but neither really fit my current eating habits and gluten-limiting. I decided to go with the macadamia pancakes that Carmen serves for breakfast with bacon "and a lovely little fruit garnish." I wasn't going to have the bacon and gluten-limiting seems not to fit pancakes, but then I thought of the 2-ingredient, gluten-free banana-egg pancakes I make sometimes (like here, or this peanut butter variation). A new friend (Kamala of KamalaWellness) just posted a pic of egg & banana pancakes with chia seeds on Instagram and I thought they looked delicious, and it would be easy to add chopped macadamia nuts to the banana, egg, and chia seed mix. I was going to use maple syrup with fresh fruit and chopped mac nuts to top my pancakes, but I thought I'd play around with the container of coconut sugar I had in the pantry and make a quick coconut simple syrup instead.

Macadamia Nut, Chia Seed & Banana Pancakes with Fruit & Coconut Syrup
Adapted & added to from The Kitchn
(Makes About 6 pancakes)

2 medium-ish ripe bananas
2 large eggs

1 Tbsp chia seeds
2 Tbsp chopped macadamia nuts (I used roasted)
dash of vanilla

large pinch of cinnamon
coconut oil for pan
coconut syrup (recipe below) and chopped mac nuts, fresh blueberries and other fruit as desired to serve

Mash the peeled banana with a fork until no large lumps remain and stir in egg until well-combined. Add chia seeds, mac nuts, vanilla and cinnamon and whisk until it forms a slightly loose, liquid-y batter. Let sit for about 10 minutes so chia seeds gel a little which helps hold the pancakes together.

When ready to cook, heat pan or griddle over medium heat and add a small amount of coconut oil to prevent sticking. When pan is hot, drop about 1/4 cup of the batter onto the  pan--if it doesn't sizzle slightly, turn up heat. 

Cook until the bottom of the pancake looks golden brown when you lift a side--about 1 minute or so. The edges should also be looking set but the middle will still be a bit loose. 

Carefully lift the pancake by gently working a thin spatula about halfway underneath the pancake, and carefully turning over to the other side. If any loose batter spills when you turn the pancake, lay the pan cake on top of the spill and move any excess back under the pancake. Cook the pancake for another minute or so until it is golden brown on each side--flipping back and forth as needed to get them evenly browned.

Set pancake aside (keep warm) and cook remaining batter/pancakes. 

Serve immediately while warm with coconut syrup, fresh blueberries or other favorite toppings.


Coconut Simple Syrup
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 1/2 cup)

1 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place the coconut sugar and water into a small sauce pan and bring to a light boil, stirring continuously for about 5 minutes--until sugar is completely dissolved and mixture starts to thicken. 

Remove pan from heat and allow to cool and thicken. Use warm, or store in a glass jar in the fridge. 

Notes/Results: I was happy with both the pancakes and the syrup. The pancakes have a nice texture with the addition of the chia seeds (which also some extra protein, fiber and Omega 3-s) and the macadamia nuts. The chia seeds give the pancakes a poppy seed-like texture which I like and they, along with keeping the pancakes on the smaller size, hold things together pretty well. I know not everyone likes bananas, but if you do and you are looking for a paleo-friendly or gluten-free pancake option, these are winners. The syrup has a toasty coconut and molasses-like flavor that worked well with the pancakes and fresh fruit--I used blueberries, raspberries and diced pineapple, as well as the dry roasted mac nuts on top. Eat them for breakfast or for a satisfying dinner, as I did. I will happily make both the pancakes and the syrup 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.

When We Found Home is my Sixth foodie book entry for the Foodies Read 2018 event. You can check out the July 2018 Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.   


The publisher is doing a fun tour-wide giveaway for this book with a great foodie prize pack:
This Taste of Seattle Gift Bag includes:
  • An “I [Heart] Happy Books” tote bag
  • Starbucks Pike’s Place ground coffee
  • Seattle Chocolates gift set (3 truffle bars)
  • Cucina Fresca marinara sauce
  • Sahale Snacks (6 packs)
  • Maury Island Farms jam (2 jars)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Note: A review copy of "When We Found Home" 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 16, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Between Earth and Sky" by Amanda Skenandore, Served with a Recipe for 'Three Sisters Succotash' with Wild Rice {and a Book Giveaway!}

I'm excited to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for Between Earth and Sky, the debut historical fiction novel by Amanda Skenandore. accompanying my review is a recipe for Three Sisters Succotash, inspired by my reading. There's also a giveaway for a chance to win a copy of the book at the bottom of the post.

Publisher's Blurb:

In Amanda Skenandore’s provocative and profoundly moving debut, set in the tragic intersection between white and Native American culture, a young girl learns about friendship, betrayal, and the sacrifices made in the name of belonging.

On a quiet Philadelphia morning in 1906, a newspaper headline catapults Alma Mitchell back to her past. A federal agent is dead, and the murder suspect is Alma’s childhood friend, Harry Muskrat. Harry—or Asku, as Alma knew him—was the most promising student at the “savage-taming” boarding school run by her father, where Alma was the only white pupil. Created in the wake of the Indian Wars, the Stover School was intended to assimilate the children of neighboring reservations. Instead, it robbed them of everything they’d known—language, customs, even their names—and left a heartbreaking legacy in its wake.

The bright, courageous boy Alma knew could never have murdered anyone. But she barely recognizes the man Asku has become, cold and embittered at being an outcast in the white world and a ghost in his own. Her lawyer husband, Stewart, reluctantly agrees to help defend Asku for Alma’s sake. To do so, Alma must revisit the painful secrets she has kept hidden from everyone—especially Stewart.

Told in compelling narratives that alternate between Alma’s childhood and her present life, Between Earth and Sky is a haunting and complex story of love and loss, as a quest for justice becomes a journey toward understanding and, ultimately, atonement.

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Kensington (April 24, 2018)

My Review:

I am a big fan of historical fiction and I especially enjoy books that focus on time periods or events that I know little about, so after reading the summary of Between Earth and Sky, I clamored to be on the book tour. Set in Wisconsin in the late 1800s and then again in 1906, the novel starts with the main character Alma, finding a newspaper article  "Indian Man Faces Gallows For Murder Of Federal Agent." The name of the accused, Harry Muskrat, is one Alma immediately recognizes, he was a childhood friend that she grew up with as they both attended the Stover School, a boarding school created by her father after the Indian Wars (the collection of conflicts fought over decades between white America and the various Native American tribes). The purpose of the school and the other schools like it was to 'better' Native American children by making them drop their culture and assimilate them into white America. Alma is the only non-Indian student, used an example of deportment for the children, who are thought of as "savages" by so many. Alma just wants to blend in and befriend these children, like Harry, and doesn't really understand what being forced to straddle the two worlds does to her classmates. Alma gets her patent attorney husband to help her friend, but Harry, or Asku as Alma knew him, doesn't seem to want to be helped. 

I was quickly caught up in Alma's story--both as a child and as an adult. The chapters alternate time frames well as Alma's story slowly unspools, revealing the secrets she is hiding from her husband and from herself. It is tough reading at times--mainly due to the anger and emotion drawn from how the Native American children were treated--taken from their families, forced to give up their personal and cultural identities--even being forced to take new names and being punished for speaking their tribes' languages. Alma is a character that you can't help but feel for--she holds her father up to a high ideal, and believes that what is being done will ultimately benefit her friends. The author obviously did her research on the different tribes--the descriptions of the school, town, the reservation, and the languages, are painted vividly and make the story come alive. As mentioned, I knew very little about these off-reservation boarding schools that existed primarily from the late 1870s into the 1930s and even beyond as like much of the Native American experience--it was glossed over or left out of the American history classes I took. The book had me googling for more information and will keep me thinking hard about this sad piece of history long after I turned the final pages. While not an easy read, Between Earth and Sky is a compelling one and I recommend it highly.

Author Notes: Amanda Skenandore is a historical fiction writer and registered nurse. In writing Between Earth and Sky, she has drawn on the experiences of a close relative, a member of the Ojibwe Tribe, who survived an Indian mission school in the 1950s. Between Earth and Sky is Amanda’s first novel. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

Readers can visit her website at You can also connect with her over Facebook or Twitter


Food Inspiration:

The food fits the era in Between Earth and Sky and it's fairly austere at the Stover School and fancier in Alma's family's circle of society and in her present day. Mentions included tea, cornbread, potato salad, fried chicken, mushy green beans, apples, stew, toast with soft-boiled eggs, bread, minced meat and breadcrumbs, potatoes, churned butter, rolls, candy (lemon drops, peppermint sticks, caramels), sauce soubise (an onion-based sauce), terrapin (turtle) soup, cordials, mousse,roasted duck, lemonade, sherry, a ham sandwich, wild rice, punch, popcorn, candies and nuts, peanuts, butter cookies, molasses, cherry pie, turnips, canned beets, roast, gummy apple cobbler, pork, mushy potatoes, corn liquor, winter squash, corn, beans, and tea with maple sugar. 

Nothing mentioned really grabbed me, so I pulled my inspiration from squash, corn and beans--the "Three Sisters" that Native Americans planted together according to Iroquois legend--so that they thrive together--like three sisters who are inseparable. The beans and corn made me think of succotash--traditionally lima beans and corn, but I'm not a huge lima bean fan and I saw a recipe for Three Sisters Succotash online at I combined parts of that recipe--the summer squash and green beans, with the a traditional recipe for Heirloom Succotash that I found in a historical cookbook, Our Founding Foods by Jane Tennant, which pretty much consisted of fresh lima beans and corn kernels, cooked in butter and cream. I kept that recipe's creamy base, added herbs, garlic and onion to give it more flavor, and switched out the dairy to make it vegan. I served it with wild rice--also mentioned in the book--for a light but satisfying, not really traditional but nodding to it, dinner.

Three Sister's Succotash
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen, inspired by Eating Well & Our Founding Foods by Jane Tennant
(Serves 4 to 6)

2 Tbsp olive oil or vegan butter
1 small yellow onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp celery salt
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced thinly
1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced thinly
about 1/2 cup non-dairy cream or coconut milk
about 2 cups lightly steamed frozen whole green beans (I used these)
about 2 cups lightly steamed frozen corn kernels (I used these)

Heat oil or vegan butter over medium heat in a large non-stick pan. Add onion and saute until onion softens and turns translucent--about 6 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, sage, celery salt and a dash of salt and pepper and saute for another minute, then add squash and stir to mix with spices. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until zucchini has softened to your taste--I like mine on the crisper side. Stir in coconut milk, green beans and corn and cook until heated through and veggies are cooked to your liking. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot with wild rice.

Notes/Results: This combination of recipes and ingredients, with the additional of the herbs, garlic and onions, made for a great dinner for someone who doesn't eat meat. Served with the rice, I used it as my entree, although it would make a tasty side dish too. I like the combination of the thyme and sage. I feel that without the herbs and the garlic, it would have been too mildly-flavored, but between all of the ingredients and the slightly nutty flavor of the wild rice and sweetness of the corn and coconut milk, it worked. You could also add broth and more coconut milk and make it more like a soup--the half cup of liquid makes it more stew-like. The ease of the steam-in-the-bag green beans and corn (I'd use fresh if I had it available) made the dish come together quickly and easily--especially if you put the rice in the rice cooker. I am looking forward to having the  leftovers for dinner tonight.

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 "Between Earth and Sky" 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.



The publisher is generously providing a copy of "Between Earth and Sky" to give away (U.S. addresses only, sorry) here at Kahakai Kitchen.

To enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below, leave a comment (Because I like to read them!) ;-) telling me a period of history you enjoy reading about and/or why you'd like to win a copy of Between Earth and Sky."

There are a couple of other optional ways to get more entries to win: 1) Tweet about this giveaway or 2) follow me on Twitter (@DebinHawaii) and/or publisher Kensington Books (@KensingtonBooks)
and/or author Amanda Skenandore (@ARShenandoah).    

(Note: You can still get extra entries even if you already follow these accounts.)

Deadline for entry is midnight (EST) on Thursday, May 24th.

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