Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Light Through the Leaves" by Glendy Vanderah, Served with a Recipe for Easy Vegan Cauliflower Tacos

I am so happy to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for The Light Through the Leaves by Glendy Vanderah, her second novel. Accompanying my review is a recipe for Vegan Cauliflower Taco Filling, made into Easy Vegan Cauliflower Tacos

Publisher's Blurb:

Go on a powerful journey of forgiveness and healing with The Light Through the Leaves, a transcendent novel of love, loss, and self-discovery by the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Where the Forest Meets the Stars.

One unbearable mistake at the edge of the forest.

In a moment of crisis, Ellis Abbey leaves her daughter, Viola, unattended—for just a few minutes. But when she returns, Viola is gone. A breaking point in an already fractured marriage, Viola’s abduction causes Ellis to disappear as well—into grief, guilt, and addiction. Convinced she can only do more harm to her family, Ellis leaves her husband and young sons, burying her desperate ache for her children deeper with every step into the mountain wildernesses she treks alone.

In a remote area of Washington, a young girl named Raven keeps secrets inside, too. She must never speak to outsiders about how her mother makes miracles spring from the earth, or about her father, whose mysterious presence sometimes frightens her. Raven spends her days learning how to use her rare gifts—and more important, how to hide them. With each lesson comes a warning of what dangers lie in the world beyond her isolated haven. But despite her mother’s cautions, Raven finds herself longing for something more.

As Ellis and Raven each confront their powerful longings, their journeys will converge in unexpected and hopeful ways, pulled together by the forces of nature, love, and family.

Paperback : 463 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (April 1, 2021)

My Review:

Glendy Vanderah's debut novel, Where the Forest Meets the Stars was a sleeper hit for me two years ago (see my review post here). It was a book I enjoyed and recommended to others, who found it equally wonderful. I was crossing my fingers that I would like The Light Through the Leaves just as much and I indeed I did, in fact, I might love it even more. I was a bit worried as the subject matter seemed depressing--Ellis, a young mother loses her baby and falls so deeply into grief and despair that she feels she needs to leave her sons rather than damage them with her pain and her addictions. The book tackles some difficult and sometimes triggering subjects--grief, addiction, mental illness, kidnapping and child endangerment, assault, martial issues--but it doesn't wallow in it. The story is told by both by Ellis, and her chapters and story are very painful, and also by Raven, a young girl growing up in seclusion with her mother--and her story has its pain as well. But in that pain is hope, healing, and growth, and also friendship and love, and it all comes together in a book I was immediately engaged in and didn't want to put down. 

Glendy's love of nature and passion for the land and its inhabitants, plants, animals and people permeate her books, so woven into the story that the settings are their own characters. You can visualize each place; feel the cold of the mountains or the humidity of a Florida summer, smell the mossy earth, and see the river and the meadow wildflowers with each well-crafted sentence. It's only March but The Light Through the Leaves will definitely end up on my list of favorite books for 2021. Highly recommended. 

If you would like to win an autographed copy of Where the Forest Meets the Stars and you have a U.S. or Canada mailing address, head over to my Instagram account @DebinHawaii for a chance to win. 


Author Notes: Glendy Vanderah is the Wall Street JournalWashington Post, and Amazon Charts bestselling author of Where the Forest Meets the Stars. Glendy worked as an avian biologist before she became a writer. Originally from Chicago, she now lives in rural Florida with her husband and as many birds, butterflies, and wildflowers as she can lure to her land..

Connect with Glendy on her website or Instagram


Food Inspiration: 

Funny story. As mentioned I reviewed Glendy's first book and I follow her on Instagram and left a comment on her post that I was excited to start reading this one. She replied back: "Thanks to your long list of food mentioned in my debut, I tried to cut back on food mentions in this book. But there's still quite a lot."  Yes there is still quite a lot, including grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, apple slices, pizzas, martinis and old-fashioned, butterscotch candies, coffee, ice cream, whiskey, Bugles and Cap'n Crunch, strawberry jello with peaches in it, hamburgers, cereal, bourbon, fancy French cognac, salad and a grilled cheese sandwich, fried venison strips for a sandwich, vegan enchiladas, ham, baked potato, squash, green beans, hummus, avocado , and vegetable sandwiches, leftover casserole, soda, vegetables, oatmeal with strawberries and sweet soy milk, cupcake, cookies and cream milkshake, food from a Mexican restaurant, hot beef and barley soup, bread, hot spiced cider, vegan tacos and burritos, popcorn, greasy fries, Prime rib, baked potato with butter and sour cream, salad with bleu cheese dressing, homemade cheesecake with blackberry preserves on top, casserole with greens and a bean salad, a vegetable-and-fried-seitan wrap, scrambled tofu and veggies, steak, and kombucha. 

A few of the characters in the book are vegetarian and vegan and Glendy mentioned she recently transitioned to veganism herself. Although I'm not a vegan (fish, eggs and cheese all make their way to my diet), I eat that way regularly and I knew I wanted a vegan recipe to represent the book. The mother of Raven's friends made the vegan Mexican food mentioned above so I decided to make vegan tacos. Since I was making them after a long day at work, I needed them to be quick and easy so I decided to use packaged cauliflower rice with taco seasoning as a base. I intended to buy those little taco bowls and layer things all pretty but of course the store had known to be found so I ended up with taco shells. You can make these tacos as homemade as you like--rice your own cauliflower, chop your own veggies, and make the guacamole but I went the easy route and bought or pulled together most of it from the pantry. It's still delicious and it was on the table in under 20 minutes. 

Vegan Cauliflower Taco Filling
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 4 cups of filling)

2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1 packet taco seasoning of choice + other spices you like to taste (I used 1 tsp roasted garlic powder, 1 tsp mushroom umami powder, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp mojito lime seasoning, 1/2 tsp chili powder)
1 head of cauliflower, riced or 2 (8.5 oz) packages of cauliflower rice. (I use this one)

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat and add onion. Cook about 6-7 minutes until onion softens and turns translucent. Add seasoning and spices and mix together, then add the rice cauliflower. Stir mixture until all of the cauliflower is covered with the seasonings. Cook about 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until cauliflower filling is warmed and onions are cooked through. Taste and add sea salt and black pepper to taste. 

To Make Tacos: Layer taco shells (toast in oven or heat in microwave if store-bought)  with cabbage mix or shredded lettuce, Vegan Cauliflower Taco Filling, guacamole and salsa. I used this pickle salsa I found because...why not?! ;-) Add other toppings as desired--roasted corn, chopped tomatoes, green onion, cilantro, vegan cheese or non-dairy sour cream, etc. 

Notes/Results: These are really good! I am not going to claim that you will fool meat-eaters or anything with them but the flavor and mouthfeel is there, they are satisfying, and they are pretty darn healthy too. I think the key is too use more spice than you normally would with meat, mushroom or even plant-based soy crumbles because cauliflower id like tofu in that there isn't much flavor so you want to give it that extra oomph. I like the dried mushroom powder--I ran out of my Trader Joe's version but found that Target (which we do have here in Hawaii) has a knock off. It, and the roasted garlic powder give the taco filling more depth of flavor. I will happily make these again. 

Note: A review copy of "The Light Through the Leaves" 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 comment:

  1. I completely agree! I loved her first book but I really think this one topped it. Thank you for being on this tour! Sara @ TLC Book Tours


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!) ;-)