Thursday, May 4, 2017

Vibrant India by Chitra Agrawal (Review)





  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press (March 21, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1607747340
  • ISBN-13: 978-1607747345


  • From the acclaimed chef and owner of Brooklyn Delhi, a debut cookbook focused on the celebrated vegetarian fare of South India.
    Lifelong vegetarian and chef Chitra Agrawal takes you on an epicurean journey to her mother’s hometown of Bangalore and back to Brooklyn, where she adapts her family’s South Indian recipes for home cooks. This particular style of Indian home cooking, often called the “yoga diet,” is light and fresh, yet satisfying and rich in bold and complex flavors. Grains, legumes, fresh produce, coconut, and yogurt—along with herbs, citrus, chiles, and spices—form the cornerstone of this delectable cuisine, rooted in vegetarian customs and honed over centuries for optimum taste and nutrition. 

    From the classic savory crepe dosa, filled with lemony turmeric potatoes and cilantro coconut chutney, to new creations like coconut polenta topped with spring vegetables 'upma" and homemade yogurt, the recipes in Vibrant India are simple to prepare and a true celebration of color and flavor on a plate. Chitra weaves together the historical context behind the region’s cuisine and how she brought some of these age-old traditions to life thousands of miles away in Brooklyn during the city’s exciting food renaissance.

    Relying on her experience as a culinary instructor, Chitra introduces the essential Indian cooking techniques, tips, and ingredients you’ll need to prepare a full range of recipes from quick vegetable stir frys (corn, basil, and leeks flavored with butter, cumin, and black pepper), salads (citrus red cabbage and fennel slaw with black mustard seeds, curry leaves, and chile), yogurt raitas (shredded beets and coconut in yogurt), and chutneys and pickles (preserved Meyer lemon in chile brine) to hearty stews (aromatic black eyed peas, lentils, and greens), coconut curries (summer squash in an herby coconut yogurt sauce), and fragrant rice dishes (lime dill rice with pistachios). Rounding out the book is an array of addictive snacks (popcorn topped with curry leaf butter), creative desserts (banana, coconut, and cardamom ice cream), and refreshing drinks (chile watermelon juice with mint). Chitra provides numerous substitutions to accommodate produce seasonality, ingredient availability, and personal tastes. The majority of recipes are gluten-free and vegan or can be easily modified to adhere to those dietary restrictions.

    Whether you are a vegetarian or just looking for ways to incorporate more vegetarian recipes into your repertoire, Vibrant India is a practical guide for bringing delicious Indian home cooking to your table on a regular basis.

    My Review:

    This is a beautiful cookbook! The pictures are full color and amazing. I loved her family pictures and background story. These recipes are from Southern India. The recipes are interesting and full of different ingredients. The only bad thing is finding some of them in the South, USA, is difficult. The recipes vary in levels of difficulty and how many ingredients are required. Recommended.





    Chitra Agrawal is the author of Vibrant India: Fresh Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Brooklyn and the founder of Brooklyn Delhi, an award-winning Indian condiments line. Since 2009, she has been serving, writing about, and teaching her family's vegetarian recipes from India with a slant on seasonality and local ingredients. Chitra writes the popular recipe blog The ABCDs of Cooking, teaches vegetarian Indian cooking classes at Brooklyn Kitchen, Brooklyn Brainery, and Whole Foods, and hosts pop-up dinners throughout New York City with creative Indian-inspired menus. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Food & Wine, Saveur, and Zagat, among others. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.


    Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.

    Saturday, April 22, 2017

    Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon (Review)



  • Series: Hope Harbor
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Revell (April 4, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800727681
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800727680


  • Hope Harbor police chief Lexie Graham has plenty on her plate raising her son alone and dealing with a sudden rash of petty theft and vandalism in her coastal Oregon hometown. As a result, she has zero time for extracurricular activities--including romance. Ex-con Adam Stone isn't looking for love either--but how ironic is it that the first woman to catch his eye is a police chief? Yet wishing for things that can never be is foolish.

    Nevertheless, when Lexie enlists Adam's help to keep a young man from falling into a life of crime, sparks begin to fly. And as they work together, it soon becomes apparent that God may have a different--and better--future planned for them than either could imagine.

    My Review:

    This was a good Christian fiction romance book. It is book three in the Hope Harbor series. It can stand alone.The characters and plot were well developed and interesting. The main characters in this story are Lexie and Adam Stone. There are other supporting characters like her son and mom. My favorite minor character is Charley, the taco truck man who is also a local artist. He is kind of like a prophet from God. He gives out wisdom to all the townspeople when they come get a taco. Lexie is the town police chief and Adam Stone is a reformed criminal. They do not cross paths until Adam is targeted by a vandal. One of the vandals is caught and Lexie wants Adam to mentor him. Adam and Lexie end up spending more time together. They feel romantic tension from the start. Along the way are some obstacles. The conclusion is good and fits the book. Recommended to fans of the genre.





    Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of more than fifty novels, including One Perfect Spring, Hope Harbor, and Sea Rose Lane, as well as the Private Justice and Men of Valor suspense series. Her books have been honored with three coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America, two Carol Awards, two Reviewers' Choice Awards from RT Book Reviews magazine, a Retailers' Choice Award, three HOLT Medallions, two Booksellers' Best Awards, and a National Readers' Choice Award. She is also a two-time Christy Award finalist. Learn more at www.irenehannon.com

    Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.




    Sunday, April 2, 2017

    Her Secret by Shelley Shepard Gray (Review)



  • Series: The Amish of Hart County
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Avon Inspire (March 14, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006246910X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062469106
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches




  • New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray begins a new series—The Amish of Hart County—with this suspenseful tale of a young Amish woman who is forced to move to a new town to escape a threatening stalker.
    After a stalker went too far, Hannah Hilty and her family had no choice but to leave the bustling Amish community where she grew up. Now she’s getting a fresh start in Hart County, Kentucky…if only she wasn’t too scared to take it. Hannah has become afraid to trust anyone—even Isaac, the friendly Amish man who lives next door. She wonders if she'll ever return to the trusting, easy-going woman she once was.

    For Isaac Troyer, the beautiful girl he teasingly called “The Recluse” confuses him like no other. When he learns of her past, he knows he's misjudged her. However, he also understands the importance of being grateful for God’s gifts, and wonders if they will ever have anything in common. But as Hannah and Isaac slowly grow closer, they realize that there’s always more to someone than meets the eye.

    Just as Hannah is finally settling into her new life, and perhaps finding a new love, more secrets are revealed and tragedy strikes. Now Hannah must decide if she should run again or dare to fight for the future she has found in Hart County.

    My Review:

    This was a good Amish book. It is the first in a new series The Amish of Hart County. The plot was not your typical Amish storyline. The main character is Hannah Hilty. Her family has to move to Hart County because she had a serious stalker. Hart County, Kentucky is also a different setting than normally seen in an Amish book. The Hiltys have neighbors on one side, the Troyers. Their son Issac, likes Hannah once he gets to know the real her. There are several plot twists. The conclusion is unique and fits the book. Good start to a new Amish series.



    Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.

    Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.

    Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    English Lessons by Andrea Lucado (Review)





  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: WaterBrook (May 2, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1601428952
  • ISBN-13: 978-1601428950
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches



  • Could She Come to Love the Questions Themselves?

    The church wasn’t just a part of Andrea Lucado’s childhood. It was her childhood. It provided more than happy moments. It provided an invitation to know Jesus.

    When Andrea arrived in Oxford the year after she graduated from college, she expected to meet God there. What she didn’t expect was that God would be much bigger than she’d believed.

    In this engaging memoir, Andrea speaks to all of us who wrestle with doubt and identity. “So many nights in Oxford,” Andrea writes, “I felt like the details of my faith were getting fuzzier. Nights turned restless with questions. I questioned God’s existence, and the doubt was getting into my bones."

    In English Lessons, Andrea takes us through the roads of England and, more importantly, the paths of the soul. Here she explores the journey of a changing faith and an unchanging God—and why growing up starts with realizing just how small we are.

    My Review:

    This was an interesting Christian non fiction book. I love England and that was a big reason why I picked the book. It was memoir of the author's time spent in England as a student but also featured some of her life back in the USA. The main point of the book are the spiritual questions she struggled with during this time period of her life. They are universal in nature. How to witness to non believers without pushing them away is a big one. How to fit in without compromising your beliefs is another. The author was not perfect in these areas and admits to it. I did not like all the alcohol consumption in the book. It is not necessary to mention getting drunk several times and drink copious amounts of wine throughout. I am not against all alcohol, its just not appropriate for this kind of book. She had two somewhat love interests while in England. She does find some answers to her questions by the end of the book. Overall the book is okay. I enjoyed the descriptions of England and living in Oxford the best.


    Andrea Lucado is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. The daughter of best-selling author and pastor Max Lucado, she inherited an obsession with words and their arrangement. She has a masters degree in English literature from Oxford-Brookes University and contributes regularly to online and print publications such as Relevant magazine and SheReadsTruth.com. When she is not conducting interviews or writing stories, you can find her laughing with friends at a coffee shop or running in the Texas hill country.

    Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.


    Monday, March 20, 2017

    Written in Love by Kathleen Fuller (review)



  • Series: An Amish Letters Novel
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 14, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718082524
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718082529


  • When a postal error creates pen pals of two young Amish people, can they put behind their past mistakes to see the bright future God has written for them?

    Jalon Chupp has a past he isn’t proud to claim. He’s worked hard to overcome his youthful mistakes, and he has recommitted himself to his faith. When he receives a sweet note included in a piece of misdirected mail, he can’t help but write back. Soon, the letters he receives from Phoebe are the highlights of his days, and with a hopeful heart, he suggests they meet in person.

    Phoebe, too, looks forward to every single one of Jalon’s letters. Living with her overbearing aunt, Phoebe doesn’t have too much to look forward to. But when Jalon suggests they meet, she panics—although she has shared some of the deepest longings of her heart with him, she hasn’t been entirely truthful about her past. But when Jalon shows up at her aunt’s doorstep, everything is revealed. And she can only pray he’ll forgive her for holding back the truth.

    In order to reach beyond the errors of their pasts, both Phoebe and Jalon must put their faith in something—or Someone—bigger than either of them could pen.

    My Review:

    Written in Love is the first book in a new series called An Amish Letters. The plot was interesting and different than most other Amish books. Phoebe and Jalon end up being pen pals after one of Jalon's letters was accidently delivered to Phoebe and she wrote him back. They both have big secrets they are keeping from each other. The characters were well developed. There are some minor characters I hope we see in the next book in the series. The romance between Phoebe and Jalon is sweet. They both have had it rough in life so they are not perfect. I guessed the big secrets before they were revealed. The author waits a little late to reveal them. I enjoyed reading this Amish Christian fiction book. Recommended.





    Kathleen Fuller is the author of several bestselling novels, including the Hearts of Middlefield novels, the Middlefield Family novels, and the Amish of Birch Creek series, as well as a middle-grade Amish series, the Mysteries of Middlefield. Visit her online at www.kathleenfuller.com, Twitter: @TheKatJam, and Facebook: Kathleen Fuller.

    Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.


    Thursday, March 16, 2017

    Murder is No Accident by A. H. Gabhart (Review)



  • Series: The Hidden Springs Mysteries (Book 3)
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Revell (March 14, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080072710X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800727109


  • Young Maggie Greene may be trespassing in the old, empty Victorian mansion on a quiet street in Hidden Springs, but all she wants is some private time in the magnificent tower room to write her stories. Certain she'll be in trouble if caught, she hides when a realtor shows up. But someone else is in the house too, someone even more worried about getting caught. When Maggie finds the realtor's body at the bottom of a flight of stairs and the other person gone, Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane is called in. He assumes the realtor's death is a tragic accident--until a second person is found dead in the house. When Maggie is threatened, Michael must catch the murderer before anyone else dies.

    Cozy mystery fans will love this third installment in The Hidden Springs Mysteries series from an author who knows how to make small-town America sweet, sentimental--and a little sinister.

    My Review:

    This was a good Christian cozy mystery book. It is book three in the Hidden Springs series but can stand alone. The author did a good job developing the small town feel. There were several interesting unique characters. The series revolves around Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane. He grew up in Hidden Springs and has roots there. His only living family member is his Aunt who is a high school math teacher even though she is elderly. He has a girlfriend named Alex who spent her summers in Hidden Springs visiting her Uncle Reese. She is a lawyer in the big city and is not a small town girl. They love each other but that always stands in the way. There were two murders in the book. I did not solve them before the end of the book. I was surprised at one of the killers. The ending was mostly satisfying. I would have liked more closure between Michael and Alex. Recommended to fans of the genre.

                         

    Biography

    Ann H. Gabhart caught the writing bug at the age of ten and has been writing ever since. An award winning author, she's published many books for both adults and young adults. Scent of Lilacs, her first inspirational novel, was chosen as a Top Ten Christian Fiction Book by Booklist magazine. Her Shaker novel, The Outsider, was a finalist for ECPA Christian Fiction Book of the Year and was a Top Pick by Romantic Times Book Review Magazine. Love Comes Home won the Selah Book of the Year award. Ann writes about Kentucky history and small town life and as A.H. Gabhart is the author of the Hidden Springs mysteries.

    Ann lives on a farm in Kentucky not far from where she was born. She and her husband have three children and nine grandchildren. Ann loves hiking on her farm with her grandkids and her dog, Oscar. See more about her books at www.annhgabhart.com or join the conversation on her Facebook page, www.facebook.com/anngabhart

    Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.

    Saturday, March 11, 2017

    Still Life by Dani Pettrey (Review)



  • Series: Chesapeake Valor (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (January 31, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764212958
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764212956



  • Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright--and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart.

    Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit and support her best friend, who modeled for the show. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead--and the photographer insists he didn't take the shot. Worse, her friend can't be found. She immediately calls Parker for help. As Avery, Parker, and his friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat.

    My Review:

    This is book two in the Chesapeake Valor series. I have read book one and loved it. This book was just okay for me. It had a lot going on and many characters. I can understand needing to set up for the next book in the series though. The true main focus of this book is Avery and Parker. I thought some of the characters needed a little more developing. The plot was interesting and detailed. It had a couple plot twists. Avery and her friend Skylar have been friends for a long time. Avery has a bad past that Parker does not know about. Searching for Skylar has forced her to reveal some of it to him. After they confirm Skylar is dead, they realize Avery's life might be in danger. Parker shows he cares about her by wanting to keep her safe. She stopped working for Parker in the first book because she cared too much for him and he was still in love with his dead wife. Will they ever find true love together? Overall this was a good Christian mystery suspense romance book. I can't wait to read book three in the series. Read book one first.



    Dani Pettrey is the bestselling author of the Alaskan Courage series and winner of the 2014 Daphne du Maurier award for Inspirational Novel, the 2014 Christian Retailing's Best Award for Suspense, and the 2013 Holt Medallion for First Novel. She and her husband reside in the D.C. Metro area. She can be found online at www.danipettrey.com.

    Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.