Power Plates (Photos so stunning you could lick the page!) and Fluff, a sticky sweet story

I had some book mail recently – that’s always a cool thing to get home and find books in the mailbox!  I received a copy of Power Plates cookbook and a copy of Fluff, a historical narrative on …Fluff 🙂

powerPlatesPower Plates!  I seriously plan to make something from this book if I can actually put it to use instead of staring at the pages.  Eye candy for the foodie lover for sure!  The photos are stunning and each bowl meal looks so great, you could almost lick the page!

That sounded gross, didn’t it?  But it’s so true!  Vibrant colors, artfully and deliciously displayed and a variety that will please an adventurous eater.  Cusines from around the globe are represented with Indian, Italian, Greek, Spanish, Asian and more.

If you are into healthy eating you will adore this book.  What should I make first?  Cheesy Cream of Broccoli Soup with Smoky Roasted Chickpeas or a warm tofu chopped salad?  The salmon bowls appeal to me greatly (I love salmon)

power

Here are some tacos that’s high on my list to try. Not my photo, I grabbed it shamelessly from amazon HERE, so there is the credit where credit is due.

Not all the meals in this books are bowl meals, you have some for the stove top, oven, blender….but I love the idea of a bowl meal.

Fluff

Fluff !  This book has such detailed research and old photos.  You can tell a lot of hard work went into this narrative.  I remember coming home from school and getting a Fluffernutter sandwich.  This brought back memories of when I was kid growing up near Philadelphia.  Believe it or not, simpler times.  There are so many old photographs and historical info recorded.  This is great for a history buff or those who love Fluff.

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*I received Power Plates from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions, nice and no-so-nice are my own 🙂

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The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

Chalk

This book has gotten mixed reviews but I am a fan, I liked it. If Tudor comes out with another novel I will certainly read it. There were places where the author would leave you with a cliffhanger but didn’t make you wait 50 pages to get back to it. Set in England and reminiscent of Stand by Me, five friends experience childhood pleasures of riding their bikes, exploring the woods, getting into scrapes, playing games and the usual.

This was before the cruel introduction of the internet and cell phones so kids actually played. And talked. Amazing, huh?

The mystery starts with chalk figures drawn around the village. Colored chalk was gifted to Fat Gav at his birthday party and this starts the appearance of chalk figures and coded messages. If one of the friends exited their house and the sidewalk was adorned by a blue chalk man with a circle, it meant to meet your friend in the playground. That sort of thing.

One day a chalk figure directed the five friends to the woods, leading them to a grisly discovery. A young woman was dismembered, the head missing, her body parts strewn and half hidden by the leaves. The kids flip out, understandably, go for the police and were never quite the same afterwards. There are many other supporting characters in this story such as our narrator David (one of the friends), the Reverend Martin, David’s mother who is a doctor and the subject of controversy for her clinic, David’s father who decks the preacher at Fat Gav’s party and bloodies his face over “inappropriate conversation” and Chloe (a character from 2016) who plays a part in the mystery.

There is actually more than one mystery and the people and actions all seem to tie together eventually. I had a few surprises in there and that’s always pleasant. No one wants to figure out the whodunit within the first quarter of a book.

The time period shifts between 1986 and 2016. It’s a creepy book yet a page turner.

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I received this book from the Blogging for Books program.  All opinions are mine and I was not compensated for this review.

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday

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The Crown Companion Book, Volume 1

crown

If you are a fan of the British monarchy and are watching the Netflix series The Crown, you will love this book.  I have not seen the series but have heard people at work talking about it with positive reviews.

The book details the history of Windsor family as well as the presentation in the television series.  I don’t think they took too many liberties and it gives insight into the royal families actual lives.  Seeing them as almost ordinary people, the relationships, scandal, obligations, dealings with the press and acceptance of a duty bound life.  Except Edward of course, he said the hell with the obligation and married the woman he loved.

The book contains both color as well as black and white photos of the family and the actors who portray them in the series.  What a lovely job casting did with matching the physical attributes.

As this is volume one and the series is continuing I imagine there will be future volumes available.  This one concentrates more on Elizabeth, Philip, Margaret and the abdication of Edward VIII.  Lots of full page biographies and character companions, loads of photos.  If you know someone who loves the TV show this would make a great Christmas present.

When I think back to a vacation in England I remember quite a bit of lamb on menus. Grilled with a nice Shiraz would be the ticket for a cold damp night in London.

shish kabob 022

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions, nice and no-so-nice are my own 🙂

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday

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Nourished left me flat

nourished

Foodie type memoirs are one of my favorites so I was very interested to read about Huber’s travels and recipes. Sadly this book left me a little flat. The recipes weren’t especially inspiring rather simple efforts that I toss together. Okay, I will say the gnocchi with mushrooms and lobster wasn’t pedestrian but overall…(shrugs shoulders) Meh.

I want to say something positive that I liked about this book and that’s the beginning when she adds squash to the soup when in Guatemala.  The old women saw her preparing it and said the “kids won’t like the vegetables.”  But they do, they whoop and fist pump the air and say squash is delicious!

Perhaps an unfair comparison but Anthony Bourdain and Bill Buford wrote very engaging foodie books and I thought this may be along the same lines, therefore I requested it from the Blogging for Books program.  I’m happy I didn’t pay for it.

The underlying hype near the end of the book was to check out her website and that was a bit of a turnoff.

I’m not certain how the author has the financial wherewithal to up and chase dreams in other countries until she gets bored but I think most of us would like to have a shot at that dream.  Thing is I would stay a while and experience the culture instead of rocketing off to another part of the globe.

Author Bio

*I received this book from the Blogging for Books program and was not compensated in any form for this review. All opinions, nice and no-so-nice are my own 🙂

The Tea Planter’s Wife – such a sad book

teaPlanterThe description from Amazon states: “#1 International bestselling novel set in 1920s Ceylon, about a young Englishwoman who marries a charming tea plantation owner and widower, only to discover he’s keeping terrible secrets about his past, including what happened to his first wife, that lead to devastating consequences

With that little synopsis I was intrigued. I’m imaging something like Du Maurier’s Rebecca. As I plodded on through this book the descriptions of the landscape, the heat and culture were well defined. There was a point when I considered abandoning the book but I wanted to know what happened, discover the mystery and secrets.

Our main character is Gwen. She meets Laurence at a party in London and falls in love. Rather impetuous, don’t you think? But these are different times and who knows how I would behave in the 1920’s as a young innocent.

They marry and Gwen sets sail for Ceylon (Sri-Lanka) to take her place as wife of tea planter. Laurence is a different man when they hook up again – he’s distant and brooding. I can’t imagine her disappointment, not just with her husband but the change in climate. Anyone who knows me will predict I will start complaining about Florida summers beginning in May. To move from lovely cool England to Ceylon would be a deal breaker for me.

But this isn’t about me. (I would have stayed in England, believe me)

Gwen arrives to a beautiful plantation and instantly feels tension from just about everyone. Laurence’s sister, the manager of the estate and even Laurence himself. She is very much encouraged to stay away from the workers on the plantation, they are viewed as lesser individuals. Gwen is trying to immerse herself in the culture but learning that she is from a privileged culture and hierarchy, an ex-pat who will never be accepted no matter how much she wants to engage with the working tea pickers or their families.

Overall, I found the book a little too long-winded and probably won’t pick up another by this author. She’s a good writer, it just didn’t float my boat. I have spoilers to reveal about the book but won’t do that here, I will post those on Goodreads as there is a “spoiler alert feature I can click” – not sure how to handle that in this blog format.

Overall a very sad book.

I received a copy of this book from the Blogging for Books program.  All opinions are my own and I was not compensated.

Here and Gone by Haylen Beck

hereandgoneHere and Gone had it’s slow moments with character development but once you got into the book, it was a page turner.    Audra Kinney is on her way to California with her two small children, 10-year old Sean and 6-year old Louise.  She gets pulled over for a routine traffic stop in a small Arizona locale where crazy stuff happens – she gets charged with marijuana possession with intent to distribute.     Now her kids have disappeared and the Sheriff tells her there weren’t any kids in the car when she was pulled over.

Quite a mystery but I have to say, Audra wasn’t an especially likable character and her problems just got….old.  With the exception of the novel Broken Harbor by Tana French (which was well written), I avoid books where kids are kidnapped, missing or worse.  I won’t be getting more books with that thematic element.

The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares

wholeThing

Evidently Ann Brashares is a very popular author. This is my first book and sorry to say I couldn’t get invested with the characters or their internal struggles. Since she receives such high marks perhaps I will try another of her books unless she only writes young adult fiction. Maybe that was my problem with this book, I didn’t know it was young adult fiction or I wouldn’t have requested it.

There were far too many characters to keep up. I should have had a clue about that when a family tree was highlighted in the front of the book. By the way, the family tree involves multiple marriages and children and step parents and step siblings….see, that’s confusing.

The seventeen-year old characters, Ray and Sasha, have one parent in common and while they have shared closet space at the beach house, they never meet early in life. They are never at the beach house at the same time because their parents hate each other. The mother is definitely not a sympathetic character.

Anyway, Ray and Sasha aren’t related, except as step siblings…I think….but the implied romance between them seems wrong. Maybe I am the only reader who felt uncomfortable with that romantic relationship that develops – it’s not incest but it feels like it when reading.

I did like this quote:

“Why did parents ever make their kids watch them get re-married? Ray imagined a coffee table book suited to a photographer like maybe Diane Arbus for publication around Halloween: Children Watching Their Parents Marry People Who Aren’t Their Parents.”

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions, nice and no-so-nice are my own 🙂