Thursday, February 25, 2021

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "And Then She Vanished" by Nick Jones, Served with 3 Favorite Curry Recipes

I am excited to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for And Then She Vanished by Nick Jones, a new novel and the start of a new series. Accompanying my review are links to a trio of some favorite curry recipes, inspired by the book.

Publisher's Blurb:

He only looked away for a second.

Still haunted by the disappearance of his little sister Amy over twenty years ago, Joseph Bridgeman’s life has fallen apart. When a friend talks him into seeing hypnotherapist Alexia Finch to help with his insomnia, Joseph accidentally discovers he can time travel. His first trip only takes him back a few minutes, but his new-found ability gives him something he hasn’t felt for the longest time: hope.

Joseph sets out to travel back to the night Amy went missing and save her. But after several failed attempts, he discovers the farther back he travels, the less time he gets to stay there. And the clock is ticking.

With the help of Alexia, Joseph embarks on a desperate race against the past to save his sister. Can he master his new skill and solve the mystery of Amy’s disappearance before it’s too late?

Hardcover: 350 Pages 
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing (February 2, 2021)

My Review:

I wasn't sure what to expect from And Then She Vanished as I like time-travel stories but they need to feel "real" to me. I found myself immediately caught up in Joe's situation, he's just going through the motions, barely, of life. His mother has dementia, his father is gone, his business is failing and they are about to repossess his house, and all of it seemed to spiral downward when his younger sister disappeared two decades ago, never to be found. Since teenage Joe had taken Amy to a local fair and took his eyes off her for a few minutes while trying to win her a prize at a shooting booth, he blames himself for losing her and it has negatively impacted his entire family. Joe's friend gives him the name of a hypnotherapist who he goes to see to help with his insomnia and after a visit, he discovers that he can time travel and immediately decides to try to save Amy from whatever happened to her. 
I don't want to share too much detail as the book has some good twists that the reader should just let play out. The time travel aspects are done well, there are lots of details about the process and how it feels, and Joe confides in an old friend, a mathematician who helps him discover some of the "rules" of time travel (there are always rules you know). I felt for Joe, his guilt and pain and liked the supporting cast of characters that surrounded him--especially Vinny, his friend and vinyl dealer (Joe is big a music and Beatles fan). The book sped by and I hated to put it down because I wanted to find out what happened to Amy. I also liked that the book had an ending that mostly wrapped the story but left us with a teaser to future time travel adventures for Joe. I will definitely sign up for the next book.


Author NotesNick Jones was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire, and now lives in the Cotswolds, England. In a previous life, he ran his own media company and was a 2nd Dan black belt in Karate. These days he can be found in his writing room, working on his latest mind-bending ideas, surrounded by notes and scribbling on a large white board. He loves movies, kindness, gin, and vinyl.

You can connect with Nick on his website


Food Inspiration:

There's a fair amount of food and drink mentioned in the book, some more inspiring than others, including chestnuts and sweet candy, a juicer and smoothies and juices made from apples, blueberries, bananas, strawberries, and raspberries, red wine, bacon sandwich, vanilla and warm bread, chamomile tea, popcorn, brandy, ice cream, marmalade on toast, a full English breakfast on a baguette, steak, coffee, chocolate cookies, whiskey, spaghetti carbonara, meat and gravy, peanuts and other nibbles, mince pies, prosecco, hot dogs, grapes, Kit Kats, jelly beans, marshmallows, beer, turkey, G&T, a pot of soup, and peppermint tea. 

I took my inspiration from the "Curry Club" that Joseph has with his friend Vinny, where they cook a different curry each month. Actually Vinny cooks and Joseph buys the ingredients which seems a good deal to me. They get pretty imaginative from vegan chocolate curry to fermented fish phall (phall is a spicy British curry). The curry they eat in the book is Madagascan Chicken and Vanilla Curry and they both like the sweet and spicy combo. 

I love curries and make a lot of curry soups as well as regular curries. I would have liked to have made a special one for the book but work has been crazy this past month and I ran out of time. Instead, I picked three past recipes for you to try--you can see the links below. Although not as creative as Vinny's curries, they are all delicious.

Creamy Hard-Boiled Eggs Masala: Eggs in curry is my favorite! I have this one and another version on the site.

Bengali Fish Curry: A mustard-y curry with lightly fried fish.

Mushroom and Spinach Korma: Creamy, mild, satisfying and full of mushrooms.

Note: A review copy of "And Then She Vanished" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for my review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own. 
You can see the other stops for this TLC Book Tour and what other bloggers thought of the book here.


Sunday, February 21, 2021

Canh Bun Tau (Vietnamese Fish & Noodle Soup) for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

This week Souper Sundays is heading to Vietnam as I am taking part in #FoodandLit, on my favorite book social platform, Litsy. It's an event where we read a book or books from a particular country each month and cook and/or eat food from that country. January was Brazil (you can see my Creamy Brazilian Black Bean Soup here) and in March it will be Ethiopia. 

Vietnamese food is a favorite cuisine of mine and I have ordered in already this month, (Lemongrass Tofu and Veggie Spring Rolls) but I wanted to cook something too, and I wanted to make a non-Pho soup. I have a tiny Vietnamese cookbook, literally called "A Little Vietnamese Cookbook" that I think my mom put in my stocking one Christmas, years ago. I decided on a simple fish an noodle soup. My changes and adaptations are in red below. 

Canh Bun Tau (Vietnamese Fish & Noodle Soup
Slightly Adapted from A Little Vietnamese Cookbook by Terry Tan
(Serves 4)

1/2 lb white fish (halibut or cod are excellent) (I used a mix of cod and local monchong)
1 tsp ground ginger or puree of fresh ginger
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp vegetable oil + 1 Tbsp peanut or sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 large onion, sliced
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
4 sweet basil leaves (I used Thai basil + more for garnish)
1 tsp dried shrimp paste or anchovy sauce (I used this Mam Tom shrimp paste)
5 cups water (I used water + shrimp stock)
juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp nuoc mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce--I used this Thai Kitchen fish sauce)
1 1/2 oz cellophane noodles, soaked until soft (I accidentally bought rice noodles instead)
2 stalks spring onions, chopped
(I added the juice of 1/2 lime before serving and baby Thai basil leaves to serve)

Chop fish coarsely and cover with ginger, salt, and pepper, Set aside. Heat oils in a large saucepan and fry garlic and onions until light brown, then add turmeric, basil and shrimp paste. Add water (or broth), lemon juice, nuoc mam, and bring to a boil. Add fish and cook for 4 minutes or until fish is cooked mostly through. Add noodles and serve in individual bowls with chopped green onions (and basil leaves) on top. 

Notes/Results: A light and mild soup. I wanted more tang and added lime juice to the mix before serving. You might also try some chili garlic sauce stirred in if it's too mild. I used both cod and a local fish called monchong (sickle pomfret) and liked the former texture of the monchong best. This isn't my favorite of Vietnamese soup but it was good, it's healthy, and I would make it again. 

Now let's check out the Souper Sundays kitchen and see who is here!

Crafty Gardener is here with her "Soup'er SP Soup" and says, "I’m calling this soup the SP soup as it is made from split peas and sweet potatoes. There is probably a recipe out there that you can search but I used one of my other recipes and added all sweet potatoes. ... I love to eat soups the second day as they tend to thicken up and get more tasty. I made some for the fridge and some for the freezer."

Debra of Eliot's Eats shared her Gourmet Breakfast Sandwiches inspired by the #AllGirlsBlogParty we both took part in earlier this week. She says, "I was stuck on the “designer egg McMuffins.” ... I decided to make these for a weekend brunch for two.  It just so happened it was Valentine’s Day weekend so it was an added plus. ... I made my own ciabatta rolls using a recipe at King Arthur. This recipe is a two-day process, making the sponge to set overnight and then a total of 5-6 hours for other risings. Plan accordingly."

Judee of Gluten Free A - Z Blog brought a colorful Anti-Inflammatory Salad, saying "This colorful anti-inflammatory and nutrient dense salad is not only delicious, it also contains ingredients known to help reduce inflammation in the body. ... Did you know thainflammation is the number one predictor of heart disease (which can be a silent killer) and plays a key role in aggravating and contributing to many other diseases." 

Shaheen of Allotment2Kitchen shares a Yellow Pea Soup with Red Pepper and Tofu Croutons. She says, "Too much turmeric in a dish can be overpowering and that is what happened with this Yellow Pea Soup .  It was edible though, albeit not the flavour i was quite expecting.  To tone down the turmeric yellow flavour and colour, i first added in some minced red pepper for sweetness and for a change,. I also  made tofu croutons that were fried in a little olive oil and fried until golden on sides to add a bit of body.  It was okay but nothing to get excited about."

Thank you to everyone who joined me this 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 Souper Sunday'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. Also please see below for what to do on your blog post that you link up to Souper Sundays in order to be included in the weekly round-up.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and add a link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back to this post or my blog on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (completely optional).

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
Have a happy, healthy week!

Friday, February 19, 2021

The Book Review Stops Here: An Audiobook Review of "A Vineyard Valentine" by Nina Bocci, Served with Some Risotto and Chocolates Recipes

Happy Aloha Friday! It was a long but busy week that went very fast if that makes sense. I am excited to be today's TLC Book Tours stop on a quick audiobook tour for A Vineyard Valentine by Nina Bocci. Although I didn't have time to make a recipe inspired by this rom-com novella, I do have a couple of dishes that would pair perfectly to enjoy!

Publisher's Blurb:

An unforgettable night of romance awaits in this funny, charming novella by USA Today bestselling author Nina Bocci!

The annual Valentine’s Day singles soiree is always a big money-maker for Eloisa Giordano’s winery. What could be more romantic than looking for love at a quaint family vineyard on the most romantic night of year? Well, just about anything as far as Eloisa is concerned. She’s a Valentine’s Day Grinch who thinks it’s the lamest, most clichéd holiday ever invented.

Fortunately, she’ll get to hang out with like-minded folks this year by hosting an Anti-Valentine’s Day party on the same night. She’ll just need to alternate between events to keep them both running and she’ll be raking in the profits. But Eloisa is thrown for a loop when a sexy, self-described hopeless romantic shows up at the singles soiree and keeps her captivated. Will he change her mind about the holiday…and about love?

Only Available on Audible

My Review:

I jumped on this tour for a few different reasons, the first being that I love audiobooks. On Sundays, I do "audiosouping" and listen while I make my weekly soup. I also listen on my commutes to work--even if it's only 25-30 minutes most days. I have an audible membership and love choosing from their selections. I also really enjoy the author, Nina Bocci. I have read and reviewed her On the Corner of Love and Hate and Meet Me on Love Lane, and then her third book, The Ingredients of You and Me on book tours early last year. Finally, for me and audiobooks, it's all about the narration. A narrator can make the story come to life or have me increasing the speed or abandoning a book altogether, so I was extremely excited to find this novella narrated by Amanda Ronconi. She has illustrated several of my favorite series books by Molly Harper and actually is a very prolific narrator. I knew she would make the most of this story with her voices and  skills at books with a comedic edge.

So what did I think? It all came together well--cute story, good romance and excellent narrating, all in under two hours. It's a sign when you want a novella to be longer and are sad to leave the characters. The story is set mostly on Valentine's Day, when the main character, Eloisa (Elo) Giorando who inherited her family's winery business is hosting two very different Valentine's Day parties to draw business to the winery. The traditional party, planned by her marketing person and best friend is always a hit but Elo HATES Valentine's Day (for a good reason) and wants to hold an Anti-Valentine's Day party the same night for like-minded singles, and to hopefully attract a slightly younger demographic. A mishap has her running both events and running between them and she also meets a very hot guy. It's a rom-com for sure and it made me smile. You don't need to listen to it on Valentine's Day either, it would be good for any time you want a quick, sweet and funny listen. If you haven't listened to an audiobook before and aren't sure if you'd like them, A Vineyard Valentine would be a great introduction.  


Author Notes: Nina Bocci is a USA TODAY bestselling novelist who loves reading and writing about swoony, relatable heroes and smart, witty heroines. If it’s set in a small town, even better. You can always find her chatting on social media about her massive, crazy Italian family, and her favorite person in the world, her son.

Connect with Nina on her websiteFacebookTwitter and Instagram


Food Inspiration:

There was definitely food and wine to be found in A Vineyard Valentine. Mentions included plain boring toast (to describe an unsuccessful date), food trucks called Pasta Queen and Crooked Lobster, wine and chocolate pairings, a bagel with homemade jam, bad Seafood Alfredo, chardonnay, appetizers, pinot and steak, hearty pasta and burgundy, spicy cheese, risotto, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a charcuterie board. 

For my bookish dish inspiration I chose risotto which was Eloisa's favorite food and chocolates, because...well, Valentine's Day and all the chocolate and wine pairing going on at the vineyard party. I chose two recipes I enjoy of each from previous posts on my blog and paired them with types of wines. Click on the titles for links to the recipes. 

From Top Left:

I don't think you can wrong with any of these recipes, or this fun audiobook!

Note: A review copy of "A Vineyard Valentine" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for my review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own. 
You can see the other stops for this TLC Book Tour and what other bloggers thought of the book here.


Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Excerpt of "Her Dark Lies" by J.T. Ellison, and a Hibiscus Flower Champagne Cocktail Recipe

I squeezed in a TLC Book Tour stop today on the excerpt tour for Her Dark Lies by J.T. Ellison. I am a fan of Ellison's work and I am sure I am going to enjoy this book, once I actually get to sit down and read it. I'll report back once I have finished it but until then, here's an excerpt from Chapter Two.

Hardcover: 416 Pages
Publisher: MIRA; Original edition (March 9, 2021

Fast-paced and brilliantly unpredictable, J.T. Ellison’s breathtaking new novel invites you to a wedding none will forget—and some won’t survive.

Jutting from sparkling turquoise waters off the Italian coast, Isle Isola is an idyllic setting for a wedding. In the majestic cliff-top villa owned by the wealthy Compton family, up-and-coming artist Claire Hunter will marry handsome, charming Jack Compton, surrounded by close family, intimate friends…and a host of dark secrets.

From the moment Claire sets foot on the island, something seems amiss. Skeletal remains have just been found. There are other, newer disturbances, too. Menacing texts. A ruined wedding dress. And one troubling shadow hanging over Claire’s otherwise blissful relationship—the strange mystery surrounding Jack’s first wife.

Then a raging storm descends, the power goes out—and the real terror begins…



Insecurity is the worst sense that lovers feel; sometimes the most humdrum desireless marriage seems better. Insecurity twists meanings and poisons trust.

—Graham Greene, The End of the Affair 


The Party

Nashville, Tennessee

The last few days before a wedding are the most stressful of a bride’s life.

I repeat this mantra to justify accepting a fourth glass of cham­pagne from the slim, silent, white-gloved server. The champagne is delightful, cool and fizzy against my throat.

I am well past tipsy, and thankfully, it seems the evening is winding down. The quartet is looking decidedly tired, and the servers have been circling with the macarons for over half an hour. All I want to do at this point is sneak off to a corner to discreetly rub the bottoms of my feet; I’m wearing my five-hour heels but I’m pushing hour six and feeling it. I am smiled, chat­ted, and air-kissed out.

I take a second sip, then cast a glance across the crowded ballroom to my bridegroom. Jack doesn’t seem stressed at all. Quite the opposite; he is as relaxed and calm as I’ve seen him in weeks. He is in his element, surrounded by benefactors and businessmen, people of standing and stature. His dark blond hair is mussed, his eyes a bit glassy from all the toasting. The quint­essential quarterback—impossibly handsome, easy smile, thick hair, oozing sex appeal. The kind of guy who doesn’t flame out after college, but goes the whole way, becomes a brand, gets en­dorsement deals, marries a supermodel and has two perfect kids and an architecturally interesting home.

Though Jack is not a quarterback, and I am hardly a super­model. I am tall, and I do have an awful lot of blond hair, but that’s where the resemblance ends. I’m an artist, a painter. My talent is large canvas abstracts, modern oils. And even that has been enhanced by Jack’s influence.

These assets don’t seem enough, and yet, William Jackson Compton has chosen to spend his life with me.

Yes, that Jackson Compton, eldest son of the illustrious com­puter magnate William Brice Compton III, and his brilliant wife, Ana Catalano Compton.

This party is our last obligation before hopping a flight to Italy. To have our wedding on Isle Isola, in the Comptons’ pri­vate centuries-old villa, packed with modern art and old secrets. It’s belonged to the family for generations.

Personally, I would have been fine with the courthouse, but there will be nothing but the best for Jack.

At my request, the ceremony itself will be for our closest family and friends only, but because so many people wanted to celebrate with us, the powers that be—Ana, and our wedding planner, Henna Shaikh—decided a precursor event would be fitting. A reception before the wedding, complete with a tanker truck of champagne, heavy hors d’oeuvres, five hundred well-heeled strangers, enough staff to circulate food and wine for the masses, one gregarious groom, and one extremely shy bride.

And twinkle lights. One must never forget the twinkle lights.

This prewedding extravaganza is why I’m now standing in an outrageously expensive Elie Saab column of the palest ivory satin and sky-high Jimmy Choo heels in the ballroom of Cheekwood mansion quaffing champagne as if my life depends on it. One wall of the ballroom has been lit up all evening with tasteful black-and-white photographs from our courtship, inter­spersed with photos of Jack on-site in foreign countries, holding babies during their inoculations and drilling water wells, part of his duties with the Compton Foundation, a hugely success­ful and popular philanthropic endeavor. There are even a few shots of me in my studio and my paintings. They look so fasci­nating in monochrome, it has me itching to sneak away to my studio tonight, though this isn’t going to happen. A—I don’t often like the results when I paint drunk. B—We leave tomor­row for Isola, ergo, there is no more painting time for me until after the wedding.

Jack senses me watching him. His smile grows wider, into a grin that is pure, sheer delight. You are mine, and I am yours, and we are so very lucky, it says. He tips his glass my direction, and I tip mine in return, then take a sip, promptly spilling a teensy bit onto the front of my dress. Shit. I have definitely been over­served.

I set the glass down on the nearest table and discreetly dab at my collarbones with my cocktail napkin, feeling the scratchy embossing of our conjoined initials in golden scroll against my bare skin.

Jack must have seen my faux pas because he crosses the room like a torpedo. He’s not upset, he’s highly amused, judging by the rumbles of laughter coming from his broad chest. His arms encircle my waist and he sweeps me up into a hug that takes my feet off the ground. He whirls me in a circle.


You can see the other book excepts with the bloggers below:

Monday, February 15th: From the TBR Pile
Tuesday, February 16th: Kahakai Kitchen
Wednesday, February 17th: Seaside Book Nook
Thursday, February 18th: What is That Book About
Friday, February 19th: Pacific Northwest Bookworm
Monday, February 22nd: Helen’s Book Blog
Tuesday, February 23rd: Audio Killed the Bookmark
Wednesday, February 24th: Reading Reality
Thursday, February 25th: Palmer’s Page Turners
Friday, February 26th: Mrs. Mommy Booknerd
Monday, March 1st: Living My Best Book Life
Tuesday, March 2nd: Book Reviews and More by Kathy
Wednesday, March 3rd: Books & Bindings
Thursday, March 4th: Jathan & Heather
Friday, March 5th: Novel Gossip
Saturday, March 6th: Where the Reader Grows
Monday, March 8th: Art Books Coffee


Author Notes: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author J.T. Ellison writes standalone domestic noir and psychological thriller series, the latter starring Nashville Homicide Lt. Taylor Jackson and medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens, and pens the international thriller series “A Brit in the FBI” with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. Cohost of the Emmy Award-winning show, A Word on Words, Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband. 

 You can reach her via her website, Facebook, Twitter & Instagram


Rather than make a recipe inspired by this excerpt because I am only mid-way through the book. Since my except included champagne, I thought I'd repost a recipe from the early days of this blog, Hibiscus Flower Champagne Cocktails. These Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup make a stunning drink that would be perfect at any event--even "a wedding none will forget--and some won't survive. 

You can find the recipe and details here  

Note: A review copy of "Her Dark Lies" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for my review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own. 
You can see the other stops for this TLC Book Tour and what other bloggers thought of the book here.