Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery" by Jenny Colgan, Served with Jenny's "Awesome Hot Chocolate" and Toast with Butter & Honey

Although I lean to the slightly Grinch-ish side and don't like to see, hear, or think about Christmas until well after Halloween, I am happy to be on the TLC Book Tour for Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan. It's pretty impossible to not feel at least a bit of the holiday spirit when reading a Jenny Colgan book and the fact that this is the third book set in Mount Polbearne on the Cornish coast and featuring Polly, her boyfriend Huckle, and Neil the (most adorable) Puffin only adds to the feels. Along with my review, I made a batch of the Awesome Hot Chocolate from the book, served with toast with butter and honey. 

Publisher's Blurb

In the Cornish coastal village of Mount Polbearne, the Christmas season has arrived. It’s a joyous time for family, friends, and feasting, as decorations sparkle along the town’s winding streets and shop windows glow with festive displays. And in Polly’s Little Beach Street Bakery, the aroma of gingerbread cookies and other treats tempts people in from the cold.

Though Polly is busy keeping up with the demands of the season, she still makes time for her beekeeper boyfriend, Huckle. She’s especially happy to be celebrating the holiday this year with him, and can’t wait to cuddle up in front of the fireplace with a cup of eggnog on Christmas Eve.
But holiday bliss soon gives way to panic when a storm cuts the village off from the mainland. Now it will take all of the villagers to work together in order to ensure everyone has a happy holiday.
Full of heart and humor, Jenny Colgan’s latest novel is an instant Christmastime classic.

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (October 10, 2017)

My Review:

Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery is the third and possibly final (say it isn't so!) book with these characters and set in an adorable Cornish coastal village. I recommend reading Little Beach Street Bakery (my review here) and Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery (my review here) before this one. I do think it is possible to catch up on the story without reading the first two books, but why would you want to? You'll get all of the back stories, the character growth, experience living in a lighthouse, and sppend more time with Neil, the most adorable 'pet' puffin out there. 

This third book finds Polly running her bakery and scrambling to afford the upkeep of the lighthouse she and Huckle are living in. Huckle has marriage on his mind but Polly is hesitating on taking the next step. The storm mentioned in the back cover blurb is less of an issue to happy holidays than the tension between Polly and Huckle, family drama for Polly, pregnancy and issues between her best friend Kerensa and her husband (and Huckle's bestie) Ruben, and a threat to the local puffin sanctuary. But this is a Jenny Colgan book and it's Christmas, so ultimately things end on a satisfying note, making this a happy holiday read for even the Grinchiest of hearts. 

In the foreword Colgan mentions that Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery is (probably) the last book in this series but I hope that's not the case. As much as I have enjoyed her other books like The Bookstore on the Corner and The Cafe By the Sea, I have a special place in my heart for these characters and village--I'd love to continue on with them.


Author Notes: Jenny Colgan is the New York Times-bestselling author of numerous novels, including The Bookshop on the Corner, Little Beach Street Bakery, and Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery, all international bestsellers. Jenny is married with three children and lives in London and Scotland.
Find out more about Jenny at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


Food Inspiration:

There is plenty of food inspiration is Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery--the bulk being baked good and pastries. Polly's olive oil focaccia and scones, fish and chips, Polly's bread spread with salted local butter and Huckle's orange blossom honey, sandwiches and pasties, croissants, cream cheese brownies, doughnuts, cheese twists, tea and coffee, pecan and cinnamon buns, apple turnovers, Empire biscuits, Sachertorte, coarse brown bread with fresh salty butter and loads of smoked salmon on top, chocolate coins, raisin and cinnamon Christmas twists, mince pie bites, gingerbread, clotted cream fudge, brandy-soaked Christmas cakes, religieuses, chocolate matzos, rugelach, knishes, mulled wine, and galette des rois. There are more foodie mentions but I stopped writing them down and just enjoyed immersing myself in the book because I knew I wanted to make the Awesome Hot Chocolate.

There is a recipe for the hot chocolate in the back of the book (along with recipes for the knishes, mincemeat twists, and galette des rois). I stuck to the recipe ingredients for the chocolate but I found the method of heating the chocolate first in a pan on the store too worrisome with my tricky stove burners or dragging out a double boiler, so I slowly warmed the milk, then added the chocolate and whisked and stirred and slowly melted it. I chose not to add anything other than a touch of vanilla at the end---it was plenty sweet and I was craving the chocolate rather than the taste of liqueur.

I served my Awesome Hot Chocolate with toasted cranberry-walnut bread, spread with good salted butter and my favorite Big Island Bees Lehua and Cinnamon Honey.

Awesome Hot Chocolate
Slightly Adapted from Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery
(Serves 2 to 3, or more)

Note: Jenny says, "Don't add too much cream, otherwise it will turn into pudding. But do add marshmallows, even though those two statements contradict each other. Also keep an eye on the chocolate. If it gets above a simmer when it's melting, it's all over."

One large bar of milk chocolate (the size of one they offer you in shows when you buy a newspaper. The branding is completely up to you.)
One small bar of dark chocolate (Bournville or similar but go posh as you like. If you like, e.g., chilli flavoring (I don't judge), go for that at this point.)
Brandy or Cointreau (optional)
750 ml (about 3 cups)
a dollop of single cream
vanilla to taste
ginger or cinnamon to taste
2 tsp sugar (optional)
marshmallows (optional)

Melt the chocolate INCREDIBLY slowly stirring over a very low heat. If you've got small people chuntering around, they may need a distraction whilst you get this together. if you don't, a small slug of brandy or Cointreau is practically de riguer.

When the chocolate is melted, add up to 750ml of whole milk--the precise consistency is up to you--and a dollop of single cream. it should be lovely and thick but not dessert. 

A spot of vanilla; a tiny pinch of ginger or cinnamon to taste. Some people add a teaspoon or two of sugar at this point, and that is entirely to your taste. I do.

If you have a foamer, use that; otherwise carefully whisk and pour. 

Small marshmallows or tiny ones are up to you. I prefer the little ones because it feels like I get more. Don't look at me like that. 

Drink slowly. Possibly with this book in your hands. 

Notes/Results: This is an ultra rich hot chocolate, thick and creamy with sweet delicious chocolate flavor. I think as a snack, the hot chocolate or the toast would suffice without the sugar overload of both treats (the salted butter and yeasty bread helped the overall sweetness level a bit) but it certainly was tasty. I also may have overdone the mini marshmallows a tad--they spread out all over the top and got nicely melty so they were hard to resist. ;-) This hot chocolate is one you would save to make when you want a really indulgent treat rather than a quick and simple cup of cocoa but it was well worth it. I would make it again. 

I'm linking this post up to 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 "Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery" was provided to me by the author and the publisher, Harper Collins, 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.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Book Review of "At Wave's End" a Novel by Patricia Perry Donovan, with Ina Garten's "16 Bean" Pasta E Fagioli Soup for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

This Sunday I have a hearty and delicious 16 Bean Pasta E Fagioli Soup to share, adapted from an Ina Garten recipe and paired with a long overdue book review of At Wave's End by Patricia Perry Donovan. The review might be overdue, but the book features a small Jersey Shore town ravaged by a hurricane (based on Hurricane Sandy), so it fits right into recent headlines. 

Publisher's Blurb:

After a childhood as unpredictable as the flip of a coin, Faith Sterling has finally found her comfort zone in the kitchen of an upscale Manhattan restaurant. A workaholic chef, at least there she’s in control. So when her free-spirited and often-gullible mother, Connie, calls to announce that she’s won a bed-and-breakfast on the Jersey Shore, Faith’s patience boils over. Convinced the contest is a scam, she rushes to Wave’s End to stop Connie from trading her steady job for an uncertain future.

When a hurricane ravages the coast, Faith is torn between supporting the shore rescue and bailing out her beleaguered boss. But the storm dredges up deceptions and emotional debris that threaten to destroy the inn’s future and her fragile bonds with her mother.

As the women struggle to salvage both the inn and their relationship, Faith begins to see herself and Connie in a new light—and to realize that some moments are better left to chance.

My Review:

I read and enjoyed Patricia Perry Donovan's first book Deliver Her for a TLC Book Tour last year so when she contacted me several months ago and asked if I would read and review her new book, At Wave's End, I agreed of course. My good intentions to read and review the book when it published in August didn't quite happen. I did read and enjoy the book but did not get around to making a dish and posting a review. Since then several states and communities--most recently Puerto Rico--have suffered severe hurricane damage, which makes a book about it very current. As I read through the book again, deciding on a dish to make for my usual book and food pairing, my thoughts and heart are with all of those who are suffering the after-effects of storms like the book's fictional Hurricane Nadine (based after Hurricane Sandy back in 2012).

At Wave's End is about more than a hurricane on the Jersey Shore, it's about the relationship between a mother and daughter, and a book about taking chances and finding yourself--all things I enjoy reading about. With the main character Faith, being a chef, it also has an strong element of foodie fiction in it. As in her first book, Perry Donovan creates characters that are believable and relatable. Both Faith and her somewhat flighty mother Connie are engaging, as are the supporting characters--mainly the people that stay in the bed and breakfast due to the storm. Faith's harder edges soften and are understandable when you look at her upbringing and Connie has hidden depths to her personality that are not easily seen at the beginning of the story. Despite having heavy topics like the storm and its aftermath worked into the story, overall At Wave's End leans to the lighter side--there is romance, plenty of food, a balance of humorous and poignant moments, and the way the community comes together in a difficult time is heartwarming. A very enjoyable read and I look forward to the author's next book.   


Author Notes: Patricia Perry Donovan is an American journalist who writes about healthcare and the author of the novel Deliver Her. Her fiction has appeared at Gravel Literary, Flash Fiction Magazine, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable and in other literary journals. The mother of two grown daughters, she lives at the Jersey shore with her husband and "a cranky Yorkie named Deisel."

You can connect with Patricia Perry Donovan on her website, Facebook and Twitter


Note: A copy of At Wave's End was provided to me by the author to review. I was not compensated for my review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

Food Inspiration:

When Patricia sent me the book, she commented that she thought it would be easier for me to make my book inspired dish as there was plenty of food to be found in At Wave's End. She was right--I had a hard time choosing from all of the different mentions that included things like filet medallions au poivre--medium rare, coffee-burnished magret de canard (seared duck breast) blue-corn-dusted cobia (fish) with zucchini and okra, salmon and quinoa salad with carrot-sesame dressing, chicken paillard and fingerling potatoes,  afternoon tea with chilled lemonade and crumpets, Bundt cake, iced tea, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, garlic bread, pumpkin-sweet potato bisque, lychee cilantro sorbet, grilled watermelon and conch salad, shrimp and grits, arugula-topped pizzettes, breakfast strata, roasted vegetable soup, spiral ham, baked bananas, an apple and pear breakfast compote, chicken potpies, sticky buns, frittata, turkey brie and cherry-chipotle panini, sweet potato and bacon mash, wild rice, cranberry and cheese-stuffed peppers, beef daube (stew), scones, hand rolled sushi and crab and cucumber canapes, butter-poached shrimp cocktail, starfish finger sandwiches, vanilla mousse, a crab salad, a raw seafood bar or oysters, crab and shrimp, shrimp skewers wrapped in prosciutto, cilantro-studded crab cakes, lobster tacos, tuna sliders, tomato and mozzarella tarts, Asiago-dusted French fries, corn chowder, deep-fried zeppoles, chocolate-chip ice cream sandwiches filled with locally made frozen custard, watermelon, feta and arugula salad, roast loin of pork with fig jelly, scallion-studded polenta,  and  carrots with cumin yogurt. Drinks included armagnac, cocktails with muddled produce (muddled orange slices and blackberries and muddled celery),  pinot grigio, the Boxcar (a blend of London gin, Cointreau, fresh lime juice and egg white), a Shirley Temple, and mermaid cocktails--rainbow-layered confections with alcohol and without. Whew! 

Although there were several food mentions that caught my eye and that I thought about making, I decided on the humble "makeshift" pasta e fagioli soup that Faith puts together for the volunteers and people taking shelter from the storm at the local church. To me, a bowl of soup is like a hug and exactly what I make when I need comfort or want to comfort someone else and it captured the spirit of the book. I have been wanting to try Ina Garten's 16 Bean Pasta E Fagioli Soup and this seemed like a great time to make it.

I did change a few things in Ina's recipe such as taking out the pancetta as I don't eat meat. Instead I added smoked paprika and some dried oregano and basil to give a slightly smoky taste and a flavor boost. I used a combination of non-chicken vegan soup base and homemade garlic broth in place of the chicken broth and because I was making a 1 & 1/2-ish batch of this soup to share with friends who have a small child, I left out the red wine--deciding to add an Italian mushroom bullion cube and little extra red wine vinegar at the end for another flavor boost. When you take out ingredients that add a lot of flavor to make a recipe vegetarian or vegan, you have to put flavors back in. I did however leave in the Parmesan. If you want a vegan version of the soup you could use nutritional yeast or a vegan Parmesan mixture instead. I am sure Ina's soup recipe is more than delicious as it is written, but I think my changes kept all of the great taste without using foods I don't eat and removing the alcohol.

Ina says, "Pasta e fagioli is a classic Italian soup with pasta and white beans. I'm always looking for new ways to make old fashioned dishes and Goya's 16-bean soup mix was the perfect change. This is thick enough to be a hearty meal on a cold winter day. I added a splash of red wine vinegar at the end, which really livens up the flavors of the soup."

"16 Bean" Pasta E Fagioli 
Slightly Adapted from Cooking for Jeffrey by Ina Garten
(Makes 6 Servings)

1 (1 lb) bag of Goya of other 16-bean soup mix
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 (6 oz) package pancetta, diced (I omitted)
1 large onion diced
3-4 cloves minced garlic (I used 5 cloves)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

(I added 1 tsp smoked paprika, I tsp oregano & 1 tsp dried basil)
1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano

(I added 1 can diced fire-roasted tomatoes)
1 cup dry red wine
4 -6 cups good chicken or veggie stock (I used 4 cups non-chicken stock + 2 Cups homemade garlic stock + 1 boullion mushroom cube)
kosher salt & black pepper
1 cup miniature pasta such as ditalini or tubettini
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese + more for serving
1 Tbsp good red wine vinegar (I added 1 extra Tbsp)
fresh basil leaves, julienned for serving

The day before you plan to make the soup, place the bean mix in a large bowl, and add water to cover by 2 inches and refrigerate overnight. The next day, drain the beans, rinse under cold running water, drain again. Place the beans in a large pot with 8 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 1 hour. Stir occasionally and skim off any foam that rises to the top. The beans should be very tender and the skin will peel away when you blow on the bean.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium (10-inch) stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat.Add the pancetta and onion and sauté over medium to medium-high heat for 12 to 18 minutes, until browned. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for one minute. Add the tomatoes, wine, 4 cups of the chicken stock, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper and turn off the heat.

Drain the beans and add two-thirds of them to the soup. Pass the remaining beans through a food mill, discarding the skins. Stir the bean puree and the pasta into the soup, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until pasta is tender. Add up to 2 more cups of chicken stock if the soup is too thick. Stir in the Parmesan and the vinegar. Ladle the soup into large shallow bowls and add a swirl of olive oil, a sprinkle of Parmesan and some basil. Serve with extra Parmesan on the side.

Ina says that you can prepare and refrigerate the soup for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 6 months. Just add more broth or water if the soup is too thick.

Notes/Results: Ultra thick and comforting, this is a tasty soup full of rich tomato flavor. I was happy with the changes I made to remove the meat and wine and still get a lot of flavor. I couldn't find Goya's 16-bean mix at my local grocery stores but I found another brand that worked fine. I wasn't sure about Ina's putting one third of the beans through the food mill either, but it was quick to do and it adds a thicker texture to the soup, along with the Parmesan cheese. Although this soup takes planning for bean soaking and a little extra time, it goes together easily and tastes great. I would happily make it again. 

I'm linking this soup up at I Heart Cooking Clubs where this coming week's theme is How Easy Is That? -- Ina Garten dishes that are quick and easy. This isn't the quickest soup to make but it is very easy and created mostly from the pantry. ;-)

We have some tasty dishes waiting this week in the Souper Sundays kitchen--let's have a look!

Colleen of Faith, Hope, Love, and Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice is back this week with a Vegan, Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Crockpot Soup and said, "Since I have our big annual Halloween party coming up this weekend, I decided to make and freeze a large crockpot full of sweet potato soup for the big day. I have several friends who follow a strict diet and thought that if I had at least one thing that was vegan, gluten-free, and healthy, that each one of them would have at least one thing that they could enjoy at the party without fear of getting sick."

Linda of The Crafty Gardener returns to Souper Sundays making good use of her Canadian Thanksgiving leftovers in her Yummy Turkey Soup. She said, "Individual portions of the soup are put into freezer bags and stored in the upright freezer for enjoying later. There is nothing like a bowl of homemade soup on a chilly day. You can add whatever veggies you prefer. Rice can be substituted for the potatoes. The potatoes and pot barley will make it a thicker soup."

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog brought Quick Root Vegetable Soup and said, "I love this homemade soup recipe because it is fast and easy, nourishing and tastes delicious. Root vegetables like carrots, onions, and potatoes make a simple but flavorful soup that feels warming and soothing no matter when you eat it. Did you know that soup is a popular breakfast food in Japan?

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor made Zuppa di Pesce (Fish Stew) and said, "A few weeks ago Doug found this recipe for a fish stew. It looked good so we saved our leftover fish from other dinners (froze it) and used that along with a fresh fillet of Tripletail. Tripletail is a new fish for us. We saw it at Southern Seafood and decided to try it - happy we did because it's a mild fish with great texture for grilling. The last time we bought way more than we needed so we kept some aside for this stew."


Shaheen of Allotment2Kitchen shared Roasted Marrow Salad with Black Olives and Lemon Oil and said that " made for a change from the typical pasta salads that I make for work.  It was also a good way to use up some left over potatoes and my marrow aka summer squash harvest from the garden.  The dressing was simple, an oil vinaigrette made with Azada Lemon oil."

Mahalo to everyone who joined me at Souper Sundays this week! 

Souper Sundays is back with a new format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.)

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.

If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:

  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Please mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post.
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (optional).

Have a happy, healthy week!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Rick Bayless's Pickled Red Onions, Served On His Mushroom Tacos with Onions and Garlic

Looking for recipes featuring garlic and onions and craving tacos, I turned to Rick Bayless for inspiration. I found a recipe for Pickled Red Onions on his website. I thought the tangy lime flavor of the pickled onions would work well as a condiment for tacos and decided to make his recipe for Mushroom Tacos with Onions and Garlic. It's not the first time I''ve made this recipe (as you can see here I made them last year) but it was what I was craving and they make a great meat-free Friday dinner.

The pickled onions are simple and I liked that they used lime juice and salt instead of vinegar. I kept the taco recipe pretty much as written--just replacing the chicken stock with garlic broth and replacing the hard to find epazote with oregano and cilantro. My changes are in red below.

Pickled Red Onions
Recipe from From
(Makes about 1 cup)

1 small red onion, peeled and cut in half
1/2 cups fresh lime juice

With a knife or food processor, thinly slice the onions. Scoop into a non-reactive bowl. 

Pour boiling water over them, count to 10, then immediately pour the onions into a strainer. Shake off all the water, pour the onions back into the bowl, pour on the lime juice and stir in the 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. 

Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. The onions will last for a week or more in the refrigerator.

Mushroom Tacos with Onions and Garlic
Slightly Adapted from
(Makes 4 to 6 Tacos)

12 oz fresh mushrooms, washed and chopped into 1/2 -inch pieces (I sliced them)
1/2 medium white onion, diced
1 or 2 fresh green chiles (roughly 2 serranos or 1 jalapeño), stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
2/3 cup chicken stock or water (I used garlic broth)
1/2 small lime, juiced
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large ripe tomato, roasted or boiled, cored, peeled and roughly chopped  OR 3/4 of a 15-oz can tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp epazote, chopped (optional) (I used 1 Tbsp fresh cilantro & 1/2 Tbsp dried oregano)
salt to taste

Place the mushrooms, onion, chile, broth or water, lime juice and lard or other fat in a medium-size saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cover and cook 3 minutes. Uncover and cook until all the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms begin to fry in the fat.

While the mushrooms are cooking, puree the tomato with the garlic in a blender or food processor. 

When the mushrooms begin to fry, add the tomato mixture and optional epazote and cook until the liquid has reduced and the mixture is thick, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and scrap into a serving bowl. Serve with tortillas on the side for making tacos.

Notes/Results: I like these tangy pickled onions with their strong lime flavor. They added a bright bite to the meaty mushroom tacos and I think they will be excellent with fish tacos this weekend, as well as with avocado toast or sandwiches. Between the boiling water, salt and lime juice, they don't have the usual red onion bite and they paired well with the sweet yellow onion I used in the tacos. Quick and easy--and I love their bright color too--I will happily make them again. 

As a bonus, some of my other favorite allium-centered recipes from IHCC chefs are:

Jacques Pépin's Garlic Soup:
Garlic Soup with Harissa by Yotam Ottolenghi:

Jacques Pépin's Onion-Crusted Mahi Mahi:

Diana Henry's Cabbage & Leek Colcannon:

Nigel Slater's Leek and Camembert Risotto

And back when I ate meat and poultry--Nigella Lawson's Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic:

I could keep going with many more delicious allium dishes from IHCC chefs but the above were some of my very favorite.
This post is linking up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where it is October's Monthly Featured Dish/Ingredient Challenge: Alliums! We are featuring recipes from any of our current or past IHCC featured chefs that use any member of the allium family such as onions, garlic, leeks, chives, and shallots. You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post.  

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Way to London" by Alix Rickloff, Served with a Gin Rickey

I'm happy to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for The Way to London by Alix Rickloff, a WWII historical fiction novel. I am pairing today's review with a crisp and refreshing cocktail, a classic Gin Rickey, inspired by the book.

Publisher's Blurb:

From the author of Secrets of Nanreath Hall comes this gripping, beautifully written historical fiction novel set during World War II—the unforgettable story of a young woman who must leave Singapore and forge a new life in England.

On the eve of Pearl Harbor, impetuous and overindulged, Lucy Stanhope, the granddaughter of an earl, is living a life of pampered luxury in Singapore until one reckless act will change her life forever.

Exiled to England to stay with an aunt she barely remembers, Lucy never dreamed that she would be one of the last people to escape Singapore before war engulfs the entire island, and that her parents would disappear in the devastating aftermath. Now grief stricken and all alone, she must cope with the realities of a grim, battle-weary England.

Then she meets Bill, a young evacuee sent to the country to escape the Blitz, and in a moment of weakness, Lucy agrees to help him find his mother in London. The unlikely runaways take off on a seemingly simple journey across the country, but her world becomes even more complicated when she is reunited with an invalided soldier she knew in Singapore.

Now Lucy will be forced to finally confront the choices she has made if she ever hopes to have the future she yearns for.

Paperback: 384 pages  
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (September 19, 2017)

My Review

World War II-set historical fiction is my jam. Between book reviews and on my own, I have read or listened to about ten for the year so far. What drew me to jump on the tour for The Way to London was that they main character has been living in Singapore for the past few years and having spent time there for work years ago, I am always looking for books set there. Although we don't spend long in Singapore before Lucy is banished to London for the indiscretion of a romance with the son of one of her stepfather's local business contacts, it's always nice to read about the Raffles Hotel and other places I recognize.   

Beyond the initial Singapore location, I didn't settle into the story in The Way to London  easily--mainly due to the main character who is not immediately likable. She is spoiled, defensive, and has trouble controlling her impulses--especially when it comes to things that will annoy her distant socialite mother and lecherous stepfather. It is the interactions with these characters that made me thaw to Lucy--it becomes more than understandable what drives her behaviors. Once Lucy arrives in the English countryside to her aunt's estate (taken over by the government for use as a hospital/rehabilitation center for soldiers) she meets 12-year-old truant Bill Smedley, escaping back to London to find his mother. Lucy, wanting to get there herself in hopes of getting to America to start a new life by finding an acquaintance staying there on his way back to Hollywood, sets off with Bill and her experiences on the road with him begin to change her. With these changes, she becomes a better person and I found myself rooting for her happiness and on board with the rest of the book. There is romance, but the heart of the story is about growing up and Lucy's coming of age and it is well told. There is a good balance of humor (Bill especially is a pip and once Lucy grew on me I appreciated her wit and sarcasm more), some action, and a touch of poignancy--although coming off of a round of heavier books, I was happy that The Way to London leans to the lighter side of war historicals. Lucy and Bill have quite a journey and I was happy to travel along with them.

Author Notes: Alix Rickloff is a critically acclaimed author of historical and paranormal romance. Her previous novels include the Bligh Family series, the Heirs of Kilronan trilogy, and, as Alexa Egan, the Imnada Brotherhood series.
Find out more about Alix at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. You can also follow her on Pinterest.


Food Inspiration: 

Even though it's wartime, there are food and drink mentions in The Way to London including bacon and eggs, pickled onion, whiskey, bananas, cookies, coconuts, lemonade, scrambled powdered eggs, haggis, coffee, champagne, boiled cabbage, biscuits, haddock, cabbage and potato pie, beer, popcorn, boiled parsnips and cabbage,apples, tea, ham sandwiches, Coca Cola, chocolate bars, gum, cold martinis, extra jammy jam rolls, fish and chips, gingerbread, boiled eggs and toast, blackberry jam, a ham dinner, oysters, strawberry jam, beer, caviar, plum Charlotte, cottage pie, beans, soda bread, a recipe that replaced SPAM with cauliflower, peanuts, mushrooms, a picnic lunch of SPAM sandwiches and milk tea, an orange, currant roll, crisps, toast and margarine, beans on toast, bread pudding, egg and cress sandwiches, "carrolade" (a drink of carrot and rutabaga juice), real eggs and butter, mushy peas, eels, offal and sausage, finger sandwiches (ham, chicken and cheese), berries and scones with cream and jam, porridge and soft boiled egg, a cream bun, licorice all-sorts, steak, canapes, and chocolate millefeuille.  

There were also a few mentions of gin--usually in a gin rickey which seemed to be Lucy's drink of choice although gin gimlets were mentioned as well. Not really being inspired by most of the food, I decided to make a gin rickey as my book inspired dish. It sounded good in our warm and humid weather and it's been a crazy week again and a cocktail was definitely needed. I am not a huge gin drinker as a rule but I have a bottle of Tanqueray gin that needs using and I like the fact that a classic rickey has no added sugar.

The gin rickey was created back in the 1890s in a Washington DC bar called Shoomaker's and was named for democratic lobbyist named "Colonel" Joe Rickey (Here's a take on the history by Imbibe.) There are lots of recipes for them online, differing slightly in ingredients. I ended up going with the one below from Serious Eats. 

Gin Rickey
Recipe from
(Makes 1)

Fill a 10-ounce Collins glass with ice. Squeeze lime into the glass, getting as much juice out of it as you can. Toss in the lime shell, then add gin. Top off glass with club soda. 

The rickey doesn't need it, but if you like a sweeter drink, add splash of simple syrup. 

Notes/Results: Crisp, tangy and refreshing with that slightly bitter-in-a-good-way bite from the juniper in the gin. I can see why they were a favorite of the Lucy in the book. I liked it a lot as made as I tend to prefer a less sweet drink. I would happily order it or make it again.

I'm linking this post up to 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 "The Way to London" was provided to me by the author and the publisher, Harper Collins, 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.