Friday, February 27, 2015

Deliciously Ella by Ella Woodward

Title: Deliciously Ella

Author: Ella Woodward

Published: 3 March 2015, Scribner

Pages: 256

Purchase:
Book Depository*

Summary: From the founder of the wildly popular food blog Deliciously Ella, 120 plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free recipes with gorgeous, full-color photographs that capture the amazing things we can do with natural ingredients.

In 2011, nineteen-year-old Ella Woodward was diagnosed with a rare illness that left her bed-ridden, in chronic pain, and plagued by heart palpitations and headaches. When conventional medicine failed her, Ella decided to change her diet. She gave up meat, gluten, dairy, sugar, and anything processed—and the effects were immediate: her symptoms disappeared, her energy returned, and she was able to go off all her medication. A self-confessed sweet tooth, Ella taught herself how to make delicious, plant-based meals that delight the palette and improve overall well-being.

Deliciously Ella is an essential, how-to guide to clean, plant-based eating, taking you through the best ingredients and methods for preparing easy, exciting meals. This is not a diet—it’s about creating a new mindset that embraces fantastic food. From sweet potato brownies to silky chocolate mousse and roasted butternut squash risotto and homemade fries and ketchup, Ella shares 100 brand-new recipes and twenty classics in her signature, elegant style. Packed with vivid photos and simple, foolproof instructions, Deliciously Ella
 provides a foundation for a pure, unprocessed, unrefined diet, so you can look and feel better while enjoying great food.  (Taken from Goodreads)


Thoughts:  I really love cooking and baking and lately I've been getting into recipe books and learning about different types of dishes and just exploring other diets such as in this case, a gluten-free vegan diet.  I genuinely loved flicking through this book.

There are so many delicious looking pictures that when I was looking through the book, it made me so hungry and I wanted to get up and make almost everything I saw.


Each chapter starts off with a little bit explaining some of the ingredients and what they're good for and where you can use substitutions if you want to.  I really enjoyed those bits because they were really interesting and it just helped give more information about why some of those ingredients were used in certain places.

The recipes themselves are really easy to follow and they don't contain a lot of ingredients and a lot of fiddling around, so if you're not the best in the kitchen then you should still be able to make these just fine.

Overall, this is definitely going to be added to my collection of cookbooks as there is so many amazing looking recipes that are worth making.


Also, just as a note, this book actually came from the fact that Ella writes a blog so if you're interested in checking out what her recipes are like before you think about getting the book then I encourage you to check out her blog at deliciouslyella.com

Source: NetGalley for review

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

My top ten most owned authors

One thing that I really love to do is count the books I have and count them in different ways.  So the other day I got to thinking about what my top ten most owned authors would be.  So I had a bit of a look at my books and this is my list, counting down to the author I own the most books of.

10. Julie Kagawa



I own a total of nine of her books and have read all but one.  However, I do hope to remedy that and read The Eternity Cure this year.

9. Jeff Kinney


I also own a total of 9 books by Jeff Kinney.  That is, all 9 books in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series which I really love.

8. J. K. Rowling


I also own 9 books by J. K. Rowling.  This includes the first Cormoran Strike book, The Cuckoo's Calling, written under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith.

7. Scott Westerfeld


I own a total of 11 Scott Westerfeld books as he is one of my favourite authors.  I haven't bought or read any of his books for quite a while though, so I really need to get on to that.

6. Jim Butcher


I own 11 of Jim Butcher's books as I'm slowly working my way through The Dresden Files.

5. Lemony Snicket


I own 13 Lemony Snicket books and that is because I own all 13 of the Series of Unfortunate Events books.

4. Robert Jordan


I just recently purchased the Wheel of Time books so I have yet to read them but I now own a total of 15 books by Robert Jordan.

3. Brandon Sanderson


At a total of 17 books, Brandon Sanderson is fast becoming my favourite author.

2. Patricia Cornwell


I own and have read the first 20 books in Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta series, however, I have no plans to get any more of the books because I grew out of the series last year.

1. Heather Graham


I also own 20 of Heather Graham's novels because every now and then I like to dive into the Harrison Investigation and the Krewe of Hunters novels.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Exciting Food for Southern Types by Pellegrino Artusi

Title: Exciting Food for Southern Types

Author: Pellegrino Artusi

Published: Penguin Books, 2011

Pages: 128

Summary:  Pellegrino Artusi is the original icon of Italian cookery, whose legendary 1891 book Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well defined its national cuisine and is still a bestseller today. 
He was also a passionate gastronome, renowned host and brilliant raconteur, who filled his books with tasty recipes and rambunctious anecdotes. From a proud defense of the humble meat loaf, to digressions on the unusual history of ice-cream, the side-effects of cabbage and the Florentines' weak constitutions, these writings brim with gossip, good cheer and an inexhaustible zest for life.  (Taken from Goodreads)
Thoughts: As soon as I found these Penguin Great Foods books, I knew that I had to read all of them.  The first one I had the pleasure of reading is Exciting Food for Southern Types which is all about Italian cooking. 
Not only are there recipes in this book but also little anecdotes about some food dishes and people's experiences with them.  I just found them really nice to read about as the stories were really funny.  This book is definitely worth a read.

I thought it was quite interesting reading this book in its historical context with how it talks about not preparing a certain type of bird in the summer because it won't preserve properly, and all of the cooking is done over a flame or in a dutch oven which, is just interesting to read about how food was prepared in the late 1800's.

I also just feel the need to mention the design of the book.  The cover is textured and the pattern on the cover actually feels a bit like a pattern on a dinner plate, which I thought was just the coolest thing.

While a lot of the recipes are things I would probably never try and some contain birds I haven't really heard of, there were a couple of recipes that sounded really good.  I especially liked the sound of a sponge cake recipe which wouldn't be too bad to try and make.

As a first introduction to the Penguin Great Reads books, I'm quite impressed and looking forward to reading all of the other books in the series to just learn more about different styles of cooking and different foods from different countries and different time periods.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Title: The Body Finder

Author: Kimberly Derting

Published: HarperCollins Children's Books, 2010

Pages: 327

Series: Book 1, The Body Finder

Summary: Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes that the dead leave behind in the world... and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find the dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.
Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping that Jay's intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she's falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer... and becoming his prey herself.  (Taken from Goodreads)


Thoughts: I have had this book sitting on my shelf for the longest time.  In fact, I actually have the entire series sitting on my shelf waiting to be read.  So, I finally picked this one up.  The reason I wanted to read it in the first place is that it sounded along a similar vein to Clarity by Kim Harrington which I absolutely loved.

I was a little bit apprehensive about reading The Body Finder because these days I'm really not feeling the YA scene lately, but I thought I would give it a go.  Thankfully, there isn't a love triangle in this book, but I still feel like the romance aspect was very much in the YA category and it just bothered me a bit.


While there is a murderer on the loose, the focus seems to be more on Violet's love life and her high school life, which I just wasn't that excited to read about.  I wanted the mystery aspect and I just felt like the mystery was there as a sort of background element.

Violet's gift is really interesting but I felt like it wasn't explored in great detail.  

I feel as though The Body Finder was interesting but at the same time, if I had read this a couple of years ago, I would have probably enjoyed it a bit more.   At this point, I'm not entirely sure if I want to continue on with the series as I feel like there are going to be a lot better murder mystery series that I can read instead.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Books I Would Love to Read With My Book Club (If I had a book club)

A couple of weeks ago I saw a post for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by Jamie at The Broke and Bookish, and I thought it would make a fun post to do.  I'm only getting around to it now because I've been busy.  However, one of my biggest sort of day dreaming ideas is that of having a book club and the books that I would want to read with members of a book club.

Here are some of my picks for a book club.



I feel like this would be a great book to read for a book club because it's really exciting reading through and discussing thoughts about the book.  It's just a really great book for speculating on what was happening throughout the book.



While this book isn't for everyone and nor is it for the faint-hearted,  I feel like this book would be really interesting to discuss with others.




Cloud Atlas just has so much depth and also it has a mixture of genres within each story line.  It's definitely a book I would love to talk about and share with others.
Because of the way this book is set out and how mysterious it is, I feel as though this would be a really good book to explore and discuss with others.



I've heard that this book is quite difficult to read through but that it is very good and so I feel like it would be really fun to read with other people.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Five Children and It by E. Nesbit

Title: Five Children and It

Author: E. Nesbit

Published: Penguin Books, 2013 (originally published 1903)

Pages: 235

Series: Book 1, Five Children

Summary: While exploring the environs of their summer home, five brothers and sisters find a Psammead, or Sand-fairy, in a nearby gravel pit: “Its eyes were on long horns like a snail’s eyes, and it could move them in and out like telescopes; it had ears like a bat’s ears, and its tubby body was shaped like a spider’s and covered with thick soft fur; its legs and arms were furry too, and it had hands and feet like a monkey’s.” The Psammead is magical and, every day, the ancient and irritable creature grants each of them a wish that lasts until sunset. Soon they find their wishes never seem to turn out right and often have unexpected—and humorous—consequences. And when an accidental wish goes terribly wrong, the children learn that magic, like life, can be as complicated as it is exciting.  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: I was looking forward to reading this book as I have been challenging myself to read the penguin drop caps books over the next year or two and I figured since this was a children's book it shouldn't take me too long to get through it.

When I got the book I was impressed that there were quite a few pictures throughout the book and I thought this added a nice little layer to the story and the pictures were just really fun.

Because this book was written over 100 years ago, the writing style is a little different and I found it quite interesting.  For instance, there are times when the children are collectively referred to it.  

I feel like Five Children and It needs to be read in parts over several nights, and as it is written for children, with a child.  The chapters are really repetitive in part and so I have to say that I did get a little bored.

I did enjoy reading Five Children and It but at the same time I did find it got a little too repetitive for my liking.  I am however, glad I read it for the experience.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

Title: Firefight

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Published: January 2015, Gollancz

Pages: 400

Series: Book 2, Reckoners

Summary: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS! They told David it was impossible--that even the Reckoners had never killed a High Epic. Yet, Steelheart--invincible, immortal, unconquerable--is dead. And he died by David's hand. 

Eliminating Steelheart was supposed to make life more simple. Instead, it only made David realize he has questions. Big ones. And there's no one in Newcago who can give him the answers he needs. 
Babylon Restored, the old borough of Manhattan, has possibilities, though. Ruled by the mysterious High Epic, Regalia, David is sure Babylon Restored will lead him to what he needs to find. And while entering another city oppressed by a High Epic despot is a gamble, David's willing to risk it. Because killing Steelheart left a hole in David's heart. A hole where his thirst for vengeance once lived. Somehow, he filled that hole with another Epic--Firefight. And he's willing to go on a quest darker, and more dangerous even, than the fight against Steelheart to find her, and to get his answers.  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: After reading the first book in 2013 I was so excited to read Firefight because Steelheart was so good.  Firefight, I am happy to say, is just as good!  Sometimes I feel like the second book in a trilogy is kind of boring and a waste because nothing really happens.  However, Firefight is an amazing second book.  It's hard to say if I like this one or Steelheart better because they're both amazing.

I feel like it's hard for me to talk about Firefight a little.  I don't want to give anything away but I will just say that Brandon Sanderson has done a great job with Firefight.  There is so many mysterious things going on and that kept me reading on because I just needed to know what was happening.  There were some really odd things in Babylon Restored.  It made it really interesting when things were revealed in the end.

There were a couple of things in the book that I could see coming.  I thought it was very interesting to see how things progressed.  Some of them I didn't guess at.  One thing I am really happy about, is that we got some questions answered about certain things.

Firefight is just as action-packed and exciting as Steelheart.  There are also a few surprises scattered throughout the book. Needless to say, I am so excited for the next book in the trilogy because I imagine it is going to be Epic.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Star Ratings

I always debate about whether I want to use star ratings on posts because there is so much room for interpretation on exactly what the star ratings mean.  So today, I thought I would talk a little about my use of star ratings.

Before I start talking about my experiences with star ratings I thought it would be a good idea to explain my interpretations of the star ratings.
1 star - I didn't like this book, I hated it and I would not recommend it to anybody.
2 stars - This book was ok, I didn't hate it but I didn't much like it either.  I wouldn't read the sequel and probably be very cautious about reading another book by the same author.
3 stars - I liked this book.  There were however, a few things about it that made me just like it and not really like it or love it.
4 stars - I really liked this book.  There were just one or two things that stopped me from absolutely loving this book.
5 stars - I loved this book.  It is a book I would definitely re-read and wouldn't hesitate to read anything more by the author.  They don't have to be perfect.



I used to use star ratings on the blog a really long time ago but stopped after a while because sometimes I found it hard to put a star rating to a book.  Especially when other people saw my ratings as different to how they interpret it.

I did however, continue to rate the books on Goodreads and also add my reviews on Goodreads along with the star ratings.  I did this because Goodreads is really easy to give star ratings on and also Goodreads tends to prefer if there are star ratings with reviews.

One day however, I had rated a book 3 stars on Goodreads because I liked it but didn't love it.  The book captured my interest when I was reading it but whenever I put it down it took me a while to get back to it.  The author saw my review and left quite a rude comment stating that I had rated badly and my review doesn't dictate the same thing as my review therefore my review is a piece of trash and should be taken with a grain of salt.  I was really upset about this because it wasn't too long after I had started blogging so not sure what to do I deleted the comment and decided to not put star ratings up on Goodreads.  I hadn't until now.

Now, I am putting star ratings on my books on Goodreads for this year for a couple of reasons.  The first being that I want to help Goodreads by putting the star ratings so they can use it for statistical purposes and recommending books to others.  The other is that I want to be able to keep track of how I felt about my books a bit easier at the end of the year.

What I'm curious about is do you use star ratings and if so why or why not?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Title: Red Queen

Author: Victoria Aveyard

Published: 10 February 2015, Orion

Pages: 320

Series: Book 1, Red Queen Trilogy

Purchase:
Book Depository*

Summary: This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The poverty-stricken Reds are commoners, living in the shadow of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from the Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.
Then Mare finds herself working at the Silver palace, in the midst of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.  (Taken from Goodreads)


Thoughts:  The main reason that I wanted to read this book was because of the cover.  It just looks so amazing and I love it.   The second reason I wanted to read this book is because the synopsis sounds really good and really interesting.

While I feel like the story was interesting, I also felt like I had read it before.  I feel like I've read too much YA dystopian and so if I do pick up the next book, it won't be for a little while because I kind of need some time away from YA dystopian novels.  When I read the synopsis I actually thought it might have been more on the side of fantasy but it wasn't as fantasy driven as I would have liked.

As I was reading the book I felt like I didn't really have that many feelings towards the characters.  I felt like they were just people and they were doing their thing.  Which was fine.  I just didn't have any strong feelings towards them.  Except that towards the end I thought that Mare was so stupid.  Just the things that she did, I was just surprised at how she really didn't think anything through.

I am really curious about how Mare has these powers but nobody else in her family did and also just how she does, being a Red.  I also thought that the different silver powers were really interesting too.  I'm always fascinated by magic systems and things.  

I read something that described this book as being like Graceling meets The Selection.  I haven't read The Selection, but I will tell you that I feel like Red Queen felt a little bit more like The Hunger Games meets Divergent meets Pokemon.

I feel like Red Queen, was just ok.  I think I am just not interested in dystopian anymore and so I just found it hard to really get into the book.  I do however, think that those who like The Hunger Games and Divergent will probably like this one. 

Source: NetGalley for review

Friday, February 6, 2015

Real Murders by Charlaine Harris

Title: Real Murders

Author: Charlaine Harris

Published: Gollancz, 2012

Pages: 202

Series: Book 1, Aurora Teagarden

Summary: Though a small town at heart, Lawrenceton, Georgia, has its dark side--and crime buffs. One of whom is Aurora Roe Teagarden, a member of the Real Murders Club. It's a harmless pastime--until one of the Club's members is killed.  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts:  After reading the first Sookie Stackhouse book last year I was interested in reading more from Charlaine Harris.  I also happened to be in a mystery mood and I stumbled upon this book on Goodreads so decided to pick it up.

I managed to read Real Murders in a few hours because it was so good.  The mystery starts off almost straight away and from there I was drawn into this murder investigation which revolved around other murders that had been committed in the past.  I felt like the whole premise was just highly intriguing.

Real Murders wasn't what I expected it to be.  I was kind of expecting a really light-hearted cosy mystery and while it is light-hearted, there were a few more murders than what I was expecting which I actually found to be really interesting.  There was a little bit more gore than what I was expecting too but that was fine.  I feel like it was not what I was expecting, but in a really good way.

In terms of whether or not I managed to guess who the murderer was, I managed to.  I had my suspicions after about halfway through the book and I was really excited to see that I was right when I had finished.  I feel like there were quite a few really good red herrings in the book too which just made it all the more interesting.

I liked Aurora as a character.  I think she has the coolest job ever as a librarian and while I felt there wasn't a whole lot of depth to her character I think that there will be more depth later as the series progresses.

I really enjoyed Real Murders by Charlaine Harris and I am definitely looking forward to read the next book in the series as it will be very interesting to see what direction the second book takes.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Criminal Confections by Colette London

Title: Criminal Confections

Author: Colette London

Published: 27 January 2015, Kensington

Pages: 320

Series: Book 1, Criminal Confections

Purchase:
Book Depository*

Summary: Hayden Mundy Moore is an expert on everything chocolate, helping clients develop new products and revamp recipes until they're irresistible. But sometimes, a dash of murder finds its way into the mix. . .

Hayden Mundy Moore has bushwhacked through African jungles and haggled in exotic markets to find the finest cacao beans and the most flavorful blends. It's thrilling work but rarely dangerous--until a colleague turns up dead at the exclusive chocolate-themed Lemaître resort spa in San Francisco.
Adrienne Dowling's heart attack is blamed on an accidental overdose of the secret ingredient used in Lemaître Chocolates' new line. Hayden can't believe that conscientious Adrienne would make that mistake. And between chocolate body scrubs, cocoa mud baths, and a non-stop frenzy of chocolate-based treats, Hayden starts to suspect that she, not Adrienne, was the intended target. Finding a killer among the rival chocolatiers and potential suspects won't just be satisfying--it might save her life. . . (Taken from Goodreads)


Thoughts: I've been looking for more cosy mystery series to start and one thing I have found is that I have a fondness for the books about food.  So when I saw this one and saw how it was chocolate themed, I thought it sounded like something I might get into.  However, as soon as I saw that this book had recipes included I got really excited because I do love recipes and making food.

One warning I do have about this book is that it really makes you crave chocolate.  I was sitting down reading it and I felt like I really needed to go and grab some chocolate because there is so much talk about chocolate and descriptions of chocolate and it made me so hungry.  The chocolate aspect however, did also make the story a lot more interesting and it was enough to keep me engaged the whole time.

The characters in this book were kind of strange.  There was a lot of mysterious things about them and some of them seemed more sinister than interesting mysterious.  For instance, Hayden's friend Danny was just so odd and I felt like he was maybe supposed to be all mysterious and sexy but instead I found him to be more sinister of a character and so I didn't particularly like him very much.


Hayden has a really interesting job.  She goes around consulting chocolatiers on how to improve their chocolate and of course she does this secretly because the business doesn't want word to get out that they were having trouble.


One thing that I really liked about this book was that there was a lot of investigation into the mysterious death.  It seemed like around almost every corner Hayden found someone she could question and there was a lot to take in that I really liked that.  It made me really invested in the murder mystery.


I did have an idea of who the murderer was throughout the book, but I couldn't be completely sure.  However, when the reveal happened I was pretty happy that I had managed to guess who the murderer was.  It wasn't totally obvious in the book but I always get a little bit pleased when I manage to guess who the murderer was.

I really enjoyed Criminal Confections and I am definitely going to be picking up the next book as soon as it comes out which looks set to be released in September this year and is titled Dangerously Dark.


Source: NetGalley for Review

Monday, February 2, 2015

January Wrap-Up

Time goes by far too fast.  It is already February.  So now I am here to talk about the books that I read in January and how they go towards my challenge, if they do.  Here are the books I read in January:


The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith



Rating: 5/5 on Goodreads
You can check my review out here.
This counts towards my 2015 reading challenge as A book based on or turned into a television show.


Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas


Rating: 3/5 on Goodreads
This counts towards my 2015 reading challenge as A book written by someone under 30.

Toured to Death by Hy Conrad


Rating: 2/5 on Goodreads
This was a review book from NetGalley.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon


Rating: 4/5 on Goodreads
You can check out my review here.
This counts towards my 2015 reading challenge as A book that was originally written in another language.


Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling


This was a re-read for me.
However, I am counting it towards my 2015 reading challenge as A book from my childhood.


Criminal Confections by Colette London


Rating: 3/5 stars on Goodreads.
My review will be posted over the next day.
This was a review copy from NetGalley.


Real Murders by Charlaine Harris


Rating: 4/5 stars on Goodreads
My review will be posted in a few days.
This counts towards my 2015 reading challenge as A book you can read in a day.


Firefight by Brandon Sanderson


Rating: 5/5 on Goodreads
My review will be posted in a few days.
This counts towards my 2015 reading challenge as A book published this year.


Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard


Rating: 2/5 on Goodreads
My review will be posted in a couple of days.
This was a review copy from NetGalley.

Ghost Walk by Heather Graham


Rating: 3/5 on Goodreads
This counts towards my 2015 reading challenge as a book written by a female author.