Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Lucky Ones" by Tiffany Reisz, Paired with a Grilled Cheese with Spinach and Creamy Tomato Soup

Happy Tuesday! I'm very excited to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for The Lucky Ones--a romantic suspense novel with a Gothic feel by Tiffany Reisz. Accompanying my review of this creepy, slightly twisty book is a comfort food combo of Grilled Cheese with Spinach and Creamy Tomato Soup

Publisher's Blurb:

They called themselves “the lucky ones”

They were seven children either orphaned or abandoned by their parents and chosen by legendary philanthropist and brain surgeon Dr. Vincent Capello to live in The Dragon, his almost magical beach house on the Oregon Coast. Allison was the youngest of the lucky ones living an idyllic life with her newfound family…until the night she almost died, and was then whisked away from the house and her adopted family forever.

Now, thirteen years later, Allison receives a letter from Roland, Dr. Capello’s oldest son, warning her that their father is ill and in his final days. Allison determines she must go home again and confront the ghosts of her past. She’s determined to find out what really happened that fateful night — was it an accident or, as she’s always suspected, did one of her beloved family members try to kill her?

But digging into the past can reveal horrific truths, and when Allison pieces together the story of her life, she’ll learns the terrible secret at the heart of the family she once loved but never really knew.

Print Length: 368 pages
Publisher: MIRA (February 13, 2018)

My Review:

The description of The Lucky Ones ticked off many of my 'must read' boxes--an Oregon Coast setting, an "almost magical" beach house named "The Dragon," a group of orphaned children adopted by a rich doctor and philanthropist, someone possibly trying to kill the main character when she was a child...it all sounded creepy and mysterious and exactly what I was in the mood for. Luckily, the story lived up to the promise and hype I built up for it in my mind. It's a slightly spooky tale with plenty of secrets, lies and a Gothic feel that kept me turning the pages. 

Psychological thrillers and mysteries tend to be more my genre than romantic suspense, but even though The Lucky Ones belongs more in the later category, it is an engaging read with a clever premise and a cast of characters with enough of a mystery to them to make them extremely interesting. The main character Allison is equal parts lost child and old soul, who loves books and reading (and longs to own a beachy book store) which makes her immediately someone I like and want to root for. That she has long standing feelings--a combination of hero worship and lust for Roland, her oldest 'brother' could be slightly creepy, but after reminding myself that these are not true siblings, it worked--even in the hotter and romantic moments. (There is some nostalgic comic relief by one of her other brothers who says he's reading Flowers in the Attic--which is what came to my mind at first with Allison and Roland.) ;-) 

The book is more of a slow build up of tension and suspense instead of fast-paced action but every character has their secrets and lies to hide and that had me not wanting to put it down. I did have some parts of the mystery figured out, but it was an entertaining journey to get to the end and there were still some surprises in the details. The Lucky Ones is my first book by Tiffany Reisz but I will look for more from her. It's a great book for a grey and rainy day when you need a bit of fun and a slightly dark and twisty escape.


Author Notes:
Tiffany Reisz lives in Lexington, Kentucky with her husband, author Andrew Shaffer.

Connect with Tiffany on her website, Facebook, or Instagram.


Food Inspiration 

There was actually very little food mentioned in The Lucky Ones but I was still able to find some ideas for a book-inspired dish. Foods mentioned were hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches, a cookie jar, yogurt and toast, some unspecified breakfasts, hamburgers from Little Big Burger (a Portland-based burger chain), ice cream (chocolate, pralines and cream, and mint), and McDonald's. 

I took my inspiration from a lunch one of the characters made:

"For lunch Roland served comfort food--tomato soup and grilled cheese--and she let herself enjoy every bite. She was a kid again for a few minutes, safe at home with her family with nothing to worry about."  

I love a good grilled cheese sandwich and have posted quite a few. I find myself looking for more unique takes on the simple, classic grilled cheese (many for book reviews) like this Grilled Cheese Egg in a Hole, this Chips and Guacamole Grilled Cheese, Toasted Cheese and Apple Jam Sandwich, and this Grown-Up Grilled Cheese. 

I went online, looking for something different and found a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis for a Grilled Cheese with Spinach and Pancetta. I don't eat meat so I knew I would be omitting the pancetta, and there were a few other changes I wanted to make in order to make it a bit healthier. Not that grilled cheese sandwiches are a good healthy choice, but this one had A LOT of butter that I simply don't need. 

Since there were lots of mentions in the book of how green and beautiful the Oregon scenery was, I thought the bright green of the filling--from blending chopped baby spinach into cheese and butter--would fit the setting of the book.

Now, I won't judge you if you make the sandwich to Giada's exact recipe--I'm sure it is delightful, but I found cutting the down butter by half and subbing in a tablespoon of the liquid from a jar of pepperoncini to loosen the cheese mixture up and make it spreadable worked great. Since I wasn't getting the flavor pancetta would add, I subbed in sharp cheddar cheese for mild and Pepper Jack for Monterey Jack and added smoked paprika and black pepper. My changes are in red below. 

Since it is already a busy week, I bought some Tomato-Basil Soup from the deli, but if you want to make your own, I usually use this recipe, or there are a multitude to choose from on this blog if you put "tomato soup" into the search function at the top of the blog. 

Grilled Cheese with Spinach
Adapted from Grilled Cheese with Spinach & Pancetta by Giada De Laurentiis via FoodNetwork.com
(Yield 8 Sandwiches

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temp (I reduced by half)
2 cups (8 oz) shredded Monterey Jack cheese (I used Pepper Jack)
2 cups (8 oz) shredded mild cheddar cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
1 tsp kosher salt (I omitted)
1 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil + more as needed
(I added 1 Tbsp pepperoncini liquid from the jar)
(I added 1/2 tsp smoked paprika & a pinch of black pepper) 
2 cups (packed) coarsely chopped baby spinach
16 pieces (1/3-inch thick) country-style white bread

In a food processor, combine the butter, cheeses, salt, and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Blend until smooth, adding extra oil, as needed, until the mixture is spreadable. Add the spinach and pulse until just combined.

Preheat a panini maker. Spread the cheese mixture over 8 slices of bread. Put the remaining bread slices on top. Grill the sandwiches, 2 at a time, until golden and crispy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes, then cut each sandwich in half and arrange on a platter.

Notes/Results: This is one tasty grilled cheese! I liked the flavor and gooey ooziness of the melted spinach-cheese mixture and the pretty color. (It would be fun to make for kids--or adults on St. Patrick's Day.) It was perfect for dipping into the creamy tomato soup. Making it on a panini maker (or in my case the George Foreman Grill) means you don't need extra oil or butter on the outside and with that and by cutting down the butter in the spinach-cheese mixture, it makes the sandwich a bit lower in calories and fat and I didn't miss it at all--the sandwich still had plenty of decadence and flavor. I made a half batch of the filling which makes more than enough for 4 sandwiches and I think I might try my leftover filling in an omelette. I will happily make this sandwich again. 

I'm linking this post up at I Heart Cooking Clubs where it is Potluck week--out chance to make any recipe from our current featured chef or any of our previous featured chefs--like Giada.  
I'm also sharing this post with 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.

Finally I am linking this post up to Souper Sundays, right here at Kahakai Kitchen. Each Sunday we feature delicious soups, salads, and sandwiches from friends around the blogosphere--please join in if you have any to share. Here's this week's post and linkup

Note: A review copy of "The Lucky Ones" was provided to me by the author and the publisher, 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.


  1. I never thought about adding spinach to grilled cheese but now I want it more than ever. Working on a chili post for Souper Sunday.

  2. Deb,
    I love your healthy changes to the sandwich for the grilled cheese and spinach recipe. Looks sooo good!

  3. Grilled cheese and tomato soup is a really great comfort food. I have never thought about varying it — but your additions are very tempting!

    Best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

  4. Perfect comfort food made more nutritious. I'd definitely make the changes you suggest.

  5. Tomato soup is the ultimate comfort food for me. Your grilled cheese and apple butter really piqued my interest. Your bright green spinach grilled cheese sounds delicious and great for St. Patty's day.

  6. I read this authors first series but it sounds like she has left that world behind her. They were very....erotic!

  7. How clever to create a spread out of cheese and spinach. I'm reminded of pimiento cheese from the Southern US. Although it obviously tastes different, it's also terrific in a grilled cheese. Any grilled cheese sandwich, when served with tomato soup, instantly becomes comfort food.

  8. Melted spinach-cheese already sounds good. Your grilled sandwich with the tomato soup, looks so delicious!
    That book sounds really interesting!


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