Sushi Modoki, by iina

19 Sep
sushi modoki iina

FIVE of 5 stars

This is an impressive vegan cookbook with absolutely gorgeous photography, and it gets five strong stars with a couple caveats: It is mainly for vegans, and it is very Japanese so several ingredients may be difficult to find depending on where you live.

I take issue with the blurb that says it “tastes and looks like the real thing”. This sushi is phenomenal in beauty, but it is not going to taste like fresh seafood. That said, the recipes are made with fresh veggies and rice, with vegan condiments, and any vegan would love the recipes. Contrary to what some omnivores think, vegans are not always looking for direct taste substitutes.

So why then would vegans want to eat something that is a direct visual swap for fresh fish? Because it follows the Japanese theme of Beauty. This is an excellent book for any vegan who wants to have friends over for dinner, or who wants to impress their guests. There is even a section for holding a hand wrap party. Several dishes in the second half are less focused on looking like seafood, and more centered around delicious vegetable and noodle salads. These are equally as gorgeous as the “nagiri” dishes. Non-vegans would do just fine with the second half of the book.

I am used to vegan sushi consisting mainly of cucumber or mushroom, but this book is just spectacular, both visually and in taste. Other than the usual work of rolling and putting the sushi together, the recipes themselves are not a lot of work. So if you are vegan and want to throw a sushi party that will be talked about for years, this book is one hundred percent for you.

Many thanks to NetGalley and The Experiment for gifting me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. If you have a vegan in your life, put this on their gift list. Even if they don’t like to cook, they will enjoy the beautiful and imaginative photos in the book.

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The World at Night, by Babak Tafreshi

19 Sep
world at night babek

FIVE of 5 stars

This book makes me feel that my words could never, ever in a million years do it justice.  This book is something that must be seen to understand the beauty within its pages. This is a must have for anyone interested in the world, in astronomy, in photography.

First, let us just stipulate that the photos are gorgeous. There aren’t enough synonyms for “beautiful” for me to write a coherent review, so let’s just state it as fact and move on. The photographs are from all around the world (25 different countries), and in every type of landscape. There are mountains and lakes, canyons and deserts. Stars, moons, eclipses, meteors. Cityscapes, countryscapes, buildings, animals and people. But in every single photograph is an amazing night sky.

There is information to read about every place you see, and what is going on in each photo.  There is a section to tell you about each photographer who contributed to the book, and a very nice section on “How to Take Nightscape Photographs”.

Every time I glance back at the photos my mind just freezes up. You have to see it to believe it, and I definitely urge you to take a look.

So many thanks to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing for allowing me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I can’t get enough of this book, and at 240 pages it will take me weeks to study each photograph. Definitely put it on your Wish List!

Tales from Behind the Window by Edanur Kuntman

16 Sep
tales from behind the window adanur

Four of 5 stars

First and foremost, the illustrations in this book are beautiful. They tell such a touching story that almost no words are needed. The author is telling her grandmother’s story of her arranged marriage, a marriage that appears to have been a business deal more than anything. Through the grandmother’s story we meet her brother, who was in charge of her life until money exchanged hands and she became her husband’s property. We also hear the stories of the grandmother’s childhood friend, and also the grandmother’s mother. Through these three women we meet the men of Çarşamba and understand our own history. Women’s history. Even if you have no ancestors from Turkey, these stories are part of who we are now. This book tells a story that’s been told several times before, yet it still found a way to touch my heart.

Heartfelt thanks to NetGalley for allowing me a copy in exchange for an honest review. And thanks also to the author for sharing the stories of these women, and assuring we never forget.

Carnegie Hill, by Jonathan Vatner

16 Sep
carnegie hill jonathan vatner

Five of 5 stars

I love books with ensemble casts of characters, and I really enjoyed this one. The world in this story is confined to one upscale building in New York and its co-op board and tenants. Pepper is in her early 30s and engaged to Rick, but they are the youngest tenants by an average of 40-50 years. Pepper wants a marriage and life like all the older couples she meets in her building, but as we meet each couple we see how they are all struggling to keep things together.

Some reviews have mentioned unlikable characters, but what I saw were just deeply flawed individuals, most of whom understood their flaws but who struggled to deal with them. Patricia is probably the most problematic, and although she is given a very sympathetic back story, her circumstances don’t really excuse racism. As well, I found it hard to believe that Pepper just suddenly notices the inherent racism in her rich white life, when it’s the exact same life she’s been immersed in since birth.

Two of my favorite characters were the only other younger couple, Caleb and Sergei, who work in the building. Unfortunately, they are given the least attention but I still enjoyed what we are given of them.

Overall I thought the characters were very interesting, and I enjoyed seeing how they struggled with their long relationships and the changes that being older bring. Some deal with loss of their work lives along with their identity, and many deal with health issues. Carnegie Hill could be seen as a very sad story, but it is also about life. I was mostly heart-warmed watching them all deal with love and loss and learning to live the best lives they can.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martins Press for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. I understand why this wasn’t a hit with some readers, but I enjoyed it and it earns five stars from me.

The Pasta Friday Cookbook, by Allison Arévalo

12 Sep
pasta friday allison arevalo

Five of 5 stars

This book has 52 pasta recipes, from basic sun-dried tomato to squid ink. What makes it different from other pasta books is turning Pasta Night into a Pasta Party where you invite friends and neighbors and hopefully make it a regular event. This is how pasta should be enjoyed, and the authors do a really fantastic job with the idea.

The book starts with suggestions on how to have your own Pasta Fridays, and it’s a lot more helpful than just “Invite your friends over.” It goes over all the things you’d normally not know until you’ve experienced several disastrous dinner parties. If you read this section first you will avoid many mistakes and I was quite impressed with the information. It really focuses on not going overboard or creating unnecessary work for yourself, and there are several helpful ideas for having kids at the party (which they encourage).

The recipes are divided up within the four seasons so you can enjoy fresh produce in your recipes, and there are salad recipes in each section as well. This was the reason I requested this book. There are endless pasta cookbooks out there, but this one includes the salad that you (and your body) needs when you’re stuffing yourself with delicious carbs. The salads are not complicated, just delicious, and also take advantage of the seasons.

This book picks a specific theme, Pasta Friday, and really sticks to it and covers it completely. I love that it really focuses on keeping things simple. Just delicious pasta, salad and wine, with some bread and butter on the side.

Five stars for some great recipes and sticking to one simple concept completely.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Pizza! by Pippa Cuthbert

12 Sep
pizza pippa cuthbert

FIVE of 5 stars!

This is the pizza book to end all pizza books.

I am a great pizza cook and love to entertain friends with pizza parties using both standard favorites and completely original combos. This book has combos I never could have imagined, but be assured there is nothing weird here. Just flat out deliciousness.

It starts out with a plethora of crust recipes, just about anything you can imagine including Keto and cauliflower crusts. I love experimenting with different crusts and this section is inspiring with many original recipes.

The book then continues with an unbelievable number of combos. Basically anything that could be put in/on a pizza, sandwich, pie crust, cracker, you name it, it’s all made into a pizza. Pizzas, Focaccias, calzones and desserts. Along with all the standard favorites as well! But no one needs a book about how to put pepperoni on top of mozzarella with some mushrooms, so this book gives you fantastic ideas that are just as delicious.

Roasted red onion, artichoke and sage on a crispy crust. Caramelized onion, prosciutto and peach pizza. Cilantro pesto, shrimp and feta. Chicken, cranberry and brie on thick crust.

Every recipe sounds delicious, if I were to list my favorites I’d have to list them all.

There is a pizza party section and a kid section, and a long list of sauce recipes as well.

But then we get to the dessert pizzas just to finish you off. Fig, rosemary and blue cheese. Pear, pecorino and walnut. Apple, sultana and cinnamon strudel.

The photos are to die for. It is very difficult to decide which pizza you would want to start with first. But that’s why pizza parties are so awesome, you can invite friends over and try several different pizzas in one evening!

This book gets five strong stars from me, and I’m going to have to buy a couple copies myself. One for myself and a few for my pizza loving friends.

Many thanks to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review, though I am holding them fully responsible for the weight gain that’s about to ensue.

The Little Women Cookbook, by Wini Moranville

11 Sep
little women cookbook winin moran

Five of 5 stars

Ohhhh this is such a charming little book. I think anyone who enjoyed the adventures of the March sisters would love to have this book even if they never cooked one recipe.  If you want to try the recipes, most of them look very simple to follow, even by a young teen.

Every recipe has a section that tells how in the story of The Little Women it is referenced, and gives some information about where the recipe originated. I love that the dishes are a bit unusual but not weird, so that most young readers would not be afraid to try one. In fact, their interest in the story might push them to try something new on their plates. A cheese, butter & celery sandwich might be turned down if simply offered, but a young Louisa May Alcott reader would likely love to try it.

The dinners sound delicious, but the winning section is probably the desserts. Any young reader would love to throw a tea party or luncheon, and there are the most darling little sweets to try.

Overall the book deserves 5 stars for accomplishing what it attempted. This is a must have for any Alcott lover.

Many thanks to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. I adore the book and think it would make an excellent gift for a book lover.