Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "I Invited Her In" by Adele Parks, Served with a Recipe for Baked Tortellini with Kale Pesto

It's Wednesday and I am working my way over the hump and into the weekend by taking an all-day leadership class on coaching behavioral issues. I can't help thinking that some of the characters in the new novel, I Invited Her In by Adele Parks, could benefit from some coaching--although I did more yelling at them in my head than thinking about trying to change their behaviors. ;-) Instead, I'll just review the book and throw in a recipe for a pasta dish, Baked Tortellini with Kale Pesto, inspired by my reading.

Publisher's Blurb:

Imagine the worst thing a friend could ever do.
This is worse.
When Mel receives an unexpected email from her oldest friend Abi, it brings back memories she thought she had buried forever. Their friendship belonged in the past. To those carefree days at university.
But Abi is in trouble and needs Mel’s help, and she wants a place to stay. Just for a few days, while she sorts things out. It’s the least Mel can do.
After all, friends look out for each other, don’t they?
I Invited Her In is a blistering tale of wanting what you can’t have, jealousy and revenge from Sunday Times bestseller Adele Parks.

Hardcover: 432 Pages
Publisher: MIRA; Original edition (February 5, 2019)

My Review: 

This is my first book by Adele Parks which seems odd as she has 15 novels out and all have been best sellers in the U.K, but I took the tour because I love twisty, dark thrillers that keep me guessing. Unfortunately I didn't quite get that with I Invited Her In. Be it the back cover blurb, the subtitle on the front cover (and she took everything...), the foreshadowing throughout the story, or a combination of all three, I ended up figuring almost all of the twists and turns out and so the suspense and tension just wasn't there. From the beginning it's pretty clear that Abi is downright evil and Mel got on my nerves too with her actions and her reactions to the things Abi. I spent much of the book yelling at Mel and her (more likable but equally clueless) husband Ben in my head. It's not a bad book, Parks did keep me turning the pages to see how badly the friendship between Abi and Mel derailed. For me it read a bit like a slightly over-the-top Lifetime movie and I found it more of a drama of full of dark secrets and a youthful friendship gone bad, than the psychological thriller I was expecting.


Author Notes: Adele Parks one of the most-loved and biggest-selling women’s fiction writers in the UK. She has sold over 3 million books and her work has been translated into 25 different languages. She has published 15 novels in the past 15 years, all of which have been London Times Top Ten Bestsellers. Adele was born in the North East of England, in 1969. She enjoyed a traditional 1970’s childhood, watching too much TV and eating convenience food because nobody minded if kids did that in those days. Since graduating from university, where she studied English Language and Literature, she worked in advertising and as a management consultant. In 2010 Adele was proud to be awarded an honorary doctorate of Letters from Teesside University.

Connect with Adele on her website, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.


Food Inspiration:

There was food (an alcohol) to be found in I Invited Her In, lots of family meals and British comfort food including toast and jam, tea and Hobnobs, coffee, beer and French red wine, fish fingers and baked beans on toast, a cheese and pickle sandwich, champagne, birthday cakes, gin-and-tonics, herbal teas, hot chocolate and chocolate brownies, scrambled eggs, bolognese sauce with fried mince, tomato and basil, handmade chocolates, organic grapefruit tonic in a bottle, cream tea with salmon sandwiches and little chocolate cakes, Thai food, whiskey, brandy, carrots, olives and wine, pizza delivery, meat and multiple vegetables like peas and roast potatoes, pasta and tomato sauce, pesto pasta, shepherd's pie, ice cream, lasagna, tomato and lettuce salad, tinned soup, eggs, bacon, and toast, meatballs, takeaway fish and chips, soup and crackers, jam sandwiches, strawberry milkshake, chocolate, margaritas, tacos, tostadas, and a "potato something," roast chicken, sweet potato chips and broccoli, humus, soya milk, ginger nut biscuits, cereal, chocolate milk and Nutella, Weetabixes, kebabs, red ice lollies, soft cheeses, pate, raw eggs, a C'est la Vie (a cocktail made of lime juice shaken with Ciroc vodka and French pear brandy), rainbow chard, cornmeal porridge, sea bream, duck salad and dessert.

Pasta with bolognese, lasagna, spaghetti, fish fingers, and shepherd's pie seemed to be the most common fair at Melanie's house, none of which called to me as a weeknight dinner I wanted to eat. When a recipe for Baked Tortellini with Kale Pesto popped up in my Food Network feed, I was intrigued. It had  the same feel as easy pasta comfort food but the kale added a different edge so I decided to try it for my book-inspired dish. Both the pasta and the ease of making it tie it to the book. I made up the pan on Monday night, covered it and put it in the fridge, then pulled it out, topped and baked it last night. Seemed like something working mum, Mel would do.

Baked Tortellini with Kale Pesto
(Yields 4 to 6 Servings)

kosher salt
1 12-to-14-oz package spinach and cheese tortellini
7 cups baby kale (about 8 oz) (I used regular kale)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic (I used 2 cloves)
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup heavy cream (I used coconut milk)
1/4 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed)
3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 3 oz) (I used chunks of fresh mozzarella)
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp pine nuts, roughly chopped (I forgot to buy these, so omitted)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the tortellini and cook as the label directs. Reserve ¼ cup cooking water, then drain. Reserve the pot.

Meanwhile, puree 4 cups kale, the olive oil and garlic in a blender or food processor until almost smooth. Add ¼ cup parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Pulse until smooth, adding up to 1/4 cup tap water if needed.

Transfer the pesto to the reserved pot along with the heavy cream; stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to medium low; stir in the tortellini, sun-dried tomatoes and the remaining 3 cups kale, adding the reserved cooking water as needed to loosen. Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and sprinkle with the mozzarella.

Combine the panko, pine nuts, parsley and the remaining 2 tablespoons parmesan in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the tortellini and bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Notes/Results: I liked this bake, but would make a few changes. You have to enjoy kale for this one, which luckily, I do. If you aren't a fan, I would use spinach as it would bypass the slight bitterness that kale has. The recipe also calls for baby kale, which was missing at my local grocery store, so I use regular kale. Next time, I would saute the kale first with the garlic, to mellow it and to soften the kale left in the casserole. I also forgot I was out of pine nuts which would have added a nice crunch to the texture. Still, about 20 minutes in the toaster oven (I cooked it longer as I had it in the fridge overnight) and I had this hot casserole ready to go and enjoyed my plate feeling a bit more virtuous about the cheese and pasta, having worked my greens in. ;-) I would make it again and will try it with spinach or other greens too.

I'm 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.

Note: A review copy of "I Invited Her In" 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 kind of love that you were yelling at a character, my husband thinks I'm nuts when I do that. HA! Thanks for being on this tour.

    Sara @ TLC Book Tours

  2. That looks like a great weeknight dinner -- easy to put together. I love kale, but could definitely see spinach working well. I have this book on my e-Reader. I'll save it for when I need to yell at someone. LOL.

  3. Any baked pasta appeals to me! Though I'm not a big fan of kale, as you guessed might happen.

    best... mae at

  4. this one's waiting for me at the library - I'll see what my reaction is to it. Cheers


Mahalo for visiting and for leaving a comment. I love reading them and they mean a lot!

All advertising, spam, inappropriate (or just plain rude) comments will be promptly deleted. I do appreciate your right to free speech and to your opinion but I'm not into mean, rude, or mean snarky (non-mean snarky is just fine!) ;-)