Friday, 1 July 2022

Easy Vegan: Simple Recipes for Healthy Eating

Easy Vegan: Simple Recipes for Healthy Eating
Published in the UK by Ryland, Peters and Small on the 8th April 2010.

Featured on my vegan book blog, HirlGrend.

How I got this book:
Received as a gift from a friend

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Warming soups include Butternut Squash with Allspice and Pine Nuts plus lighter choices for summer such as Courgette, Broad Bean and Lemon Broth. Try delicious Snacks and Light Meals – choose from Hot Red Pepper and Walnut Dip; Lentil, Carrot and Coriander Pâté; and Sesame Potato Wedges with Peanut Dipping Sauce. Satisfying Salads to enjoy include Tabbouleh with Chickpeas and Spring Greens; Spicy Cauliflower and Swiss Chard Salad; and Fennel and Orange Salad with Black Olives. Filling Hot Dishes to savour are Stir-fried Tofu with Crisp Greens and Mushrooms; Barley Risotto with Radicchio; and Creamy Vegetable and Cashew Nut Curry with Coconut Milk. Sweet Things are a must – choose from Tropical Fruits in Lime and Chilli Syrup; Rhubarb and Apple Crumble; and Cherry and Hazelnut Oat Cookies. Finally, Drinks include nutritious yet delicious concoctions such as Pineapple and Passionfruit Soy Shake; Peanut and Carob Smoothie; and Date, Banana and Rice Milk Frappé.

As you can see in this book's synopsis above, Easy Vegan includes a wide range of recipes - over one hundred - so there's something here for just about every meal and occasion. I love that the recipes are submitted by dozens of different cooks so I can choose ideas from many cuisines and also mix and match recipes to create odd, but tasty meals! Admittedly some of the suggested ingredients aren't easy to find in a standard UK supermarket although I imagine that was even more of a problem a decade ago when Easy Vegan was first published. It's aged very well, so much so that I didn't actually realise how long this recipe collection had been in print for until I came to write up this review. Even with the explosion in the number of vegan cookery books and food products I've noticed in the 3 1/2 years I  have now been vegan, Easy Vegan still feels fresh and relevant. I've owned my copy for several months and, while I don't refer to it every day, I do frequently find myself thumbing through the pages, inspiring myself with the beautiful colour photographs (and then making less photogenic versions of the dishes!). Several of these recipes have passed muster with non-vegans too which I was particularly pleased about. My copy of Easy Vegan was a very welcome gift. I'd highly recommend this book for vegan cooks who like to create meals that look and taste impressive, but don't require a catering qualification to make! 

Bookishly Inspired Find!
by Stanley Foo

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Thursday, 30 June 2022

Hey Charlie, You're Next! by Michael Judkins + Giveaway + Author Interview


Join Us For This Tour From:  June 20 to July 1 
Book Details:

Book Title:  Hey Charlie, You're Next!  by Michael B. Judkins
CategoryChildren's Fiction (Ages 3-7), 30 pages
GenreChildren's Fiction, Children's Stories
Publisher: Oct14 Entertainment 
Publication Date: August 2020
Content Rating: G: No bad language or explicit content  

Book Description:

Charlie finds himself in the midst of bullying on Basketball day at school and is unsure of how to speak up for himself. With a little bit of advice from his teacher and some hope, there is nothing that can tear him down.

Hey Charlie, You're Next offers readers a compelling story about overcoming negativity and gaining self confidence. It is the first book in the Hey Charlie series by Michael Judkins. Stay tune for the next books!

add to goodreads 

Author Interview:

Q. Which was the hardest character to write? 
A. Charlie. Some of the stories and experiences I'm pulling from myself. So, it tends to get emotional at times. 

Q. There are many books out there about...What makes yours different?
A. I'm aiming for inclusion with the understanding you have a voice to use for the betterment of all people. Through educating our strength we can build bridges that last lifetimes. 

Q. Favourite snack? 
A. Swedish fish and Mountain Trail mix 

Q. If you were stuck on a deserted island, which 3 books would you want with you? 
A. Harry Potter Goblet of Fire, Joel Osteen Believe, and Oprah. 

Q. If there is one thing you want readers to remember about you, what would it be?
A. Everything begins with a beginning, write the story, whatever it turns out to be, let it be. 

Meet the Author:
Michael B. Judkins, is a local creative residing in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania. He holds an Associate in Science in Journalism, Bachelor of Science in Human Services, and a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling with over 20 years in the field of Human Services.

Michael self-published his first poetry collection titled, “Introduction to Sentimental Me”. After the release of this collection, Michael was signed to Aois 21 Media publishing house which published his second poetry collection released title, “Interlude to Sentimental Me.” In addition, to the “I Stand- Podcast” and “Interlude to Sentimental Book Tour (Maryland, Virginia, Washington D.C, Bethlehem Pa, and Allentown, PA) which also included a virtual book tour (blog sites).

During this time, Michael started his independent film career in 2016, as a script supervisor on a short film produced in the Lehigh Valley area of PA. This project opened the door for Michael in the local film industry in the Lehigh Valley. After this, Michael worked on several film projects throughout the next few years as production manager, production assistant, Key Grip, and Producer. Michael also has written, produced, and directed his first stage play titled, “Interlude to Sentimental Me Stage Play.”

connect with the author: website ~ facebook ~ instagram ~ youtubegoodreads
Tour Schedule:

June 20 – Cover Lover Book Review – book spotlight / giveaway
June 21 – Library Lady's Kid Lit – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
June 21 - My Reading Getaway – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
June 22 – Sandra's Book Club – book spotlight
June 23 - Kam's Place – book spotlight / author interview
June 23 – Amy's Booket List – book spotlight / giveaway
June 23 - The Phantom Paragrapher – book spotlight / giveaway
June 24 – Hall Ways Blog – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
June 24 - Paws.Read.Repeat – book spotlight
June 27 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
June 28 – Book Zone Reviews – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
June 28 - Splashes of Joy – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
June 29 – Lisa's Reading – book spotlight / giveaway
June 29 – fundinmental – book spotlight / giveaway
June 30 – Character Madness and Musing – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
June 30 - Literary Flits – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
July 1 – Chit Chat with Charity – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Enter the Giveaway:

Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card courtesy of the author of HEY, CHARLIE, YOU’RE NEXT (1 winner) (USA only) (ends July 8)

HEY, CHARLIE, YOU'RE NEXT Book Tour Giveaway



Bookishly Inspired Find!
by The Dotty Room

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Wednesday, 29 June 2022

The Mourning Bird by Mubanga Kalimamukwento

The Mourning Bird by Mubanga Kalimamukwento
Published by Jacana Media on the 1st May 2019.

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When eleven-year-old Chimuka and her younger brother Ali find themselves orphaned in the 1990s, it’s clear that their seemingly ordinary Zambian family is brimming with secrets: from HIV/AIDS to infidelity to suicide. Faced with the difficult choice of living with their abusive extended family or slithering into the dark underbelly of Lusaka’s streets, Chimuka and Ali escape and become street kids.

Against the backdrop of a failed military coup, election riots and a declining economy, Chimuka and Ali are raised by drugs, crime and police brutality. As a teenager, Chimuka is caught between prostitution and the remnants of the fragile stability from before her parents’ death. The Mourning Bird is not just Chimuka’s story, it’s a national portrait of Zambia in an era of strife. With lively and unflinching prose, Kalimamukwento paints a country’s burden, shame and silence that, when juxtaposed with Chimuka’s triumph, forms an empowering debut novel.

The Mourning Bird is such a sad novel about the disintegration of a family following its patriarch's early death. From being a promising student from a reasonably affluent household, eldest daughter Chimuka finds herself rapidly descending into poverty after her father's family scavenge everything they can from her home at the end of his funeral - leaving his wife and three children behind in empty rooms. As the story progresses, we discover that Chimuka's childhood perception of a happy home wasn't exactly its reality. I appreciated Kalimamukwento's portrayal of Chimuka's increasing emotional maturity from child to young woman. It's as if the worse her predicament became, the more she grew up, yet she still remained an irritatingly passive character for me. I understand that, realistically, children and young women in her situation wouldn't have had a lot in the way of choices and personal autonomy, but I so wanted her to at least try to change things rather than always letting someone else take the lead.

Kalimamukwento manages to incorporate a range of interconnected social issues into The Mourning Bird, impressively without ever making it feel as though she is hectoring her readers about them. The terrible effects of Zambia's AIDS epidemic are at the root of Chimuka's orphaning, with glue, drugs and prostitution becoming almost inevitable as she slides down the social scale. Kalimamukwento's sympathetic understanding comes across very well so I was always rooting for Chimuka to find some inspiration to turn her life around before it really was too late for her. 

The beautiful prose throughout The Mourning Bird made this novel a pleasure to read, even while its subject matter is so dark and distressing. It is a strong coming of age tale which has a lot to say about the people, especially the children, left behind at this turbulent time in Zambia's history.

Bookishly Inspired Find!
by Afric Agnes

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Books by Mubanga Kalimamukwento / Historical fiction / Books from Zambia

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

A Postcard for Annie by Ida Jessen

A Postcard for Annie by Ida Jessen
First published in Danish in Denmark in 2013. English language translation by Martin Aitken published by Archipelago Press on the 28th June 2022.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Writing with the same narrative generosity, the same belief in the dignity and voice of her characters as Marilynne Robinson, this prize-winning collection of stories follows the inner lives of several women on the brink, or the sidelines, of catastrophe.

From the winner of the Lifetime Award from the Danish Arts Foundation and the 2017 Critics’ Choice Award, Ida Jessen’s A Postcard for Annie traces the tangled emotional lives of women facing moral dilemmas.

A young woman witnesses a terrible accident with unexpected consequences, a mother sits with her unconscious son in a hospital room, a pair of sisters remember their mother’s hands braiding their hair.
In seaside tourist villages and in snowy cities, turbulence destabilizes composed lives, whether through outright violence between strangers or habitual domination between loved ones.
Jessen fills each story with bracing passages that splash with the living world, only to become concentrated in the unfixed, vacillating matter of a human psyche caught between silence and speech, paralysis and action.

This collection of six elegant short stories is an interesting book to linger over and ponder. The tales take place in beautifully portrayed Danish locations, often at chilly times of the year, and I loved losing myself in the atmospheres that Ida Jessen evokes. While her prose is concise as, obviously, there isn't space for waffling in a short story, each word warrants its inclusion and has its place. Praise must also be given to Martin Aitken for the sensitive translation which flows effortlessly and still feels recognisably Danish.

Jessen's six stories have a strong originality and, while I found some more memorable than others, each one completely captured my attention at the time of reading it. The women are so real and I appreciated that older women are given space here too. The eponymous story, A Postcard For Annie, a tale of memory, is one of my favourites and I was also particularly taken with An Excursion where a woman whose marriage has begun to grate contemplates a change. Mother And Son is superb mystery which questions the strength of maternal love.

I highly recommend this collection for fans of thoughtful short stories and introverted tales as well as readers of atmospheric Nordic fiction.

Bookishly Inspired Find!
by Drawing By Eda Sipahi

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Monday, 27 June 2022

Unconditional: A Love Story by Shon + Giveaway + Excerpt

Unconditional: A Love Story
Publication date: May 10th 2022
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Charli is everything Damian ever wanted.

Captivated from the moment they met, he allowed her to set the tone for their summer fling.

But when the summer was over and he wanted more, he soon found out that maybe his feelings were one-sided.

That was two years ago and he’s still stuck on Charli. He needs to move on.

A lot has changed since they last saw each other, but Damian can’t shake the what-ifs. And the moment they cross paths again he knows his heart still belongs to the elusive woman who stole it the first time he laid eyes on her.

Who’s to say they won’t get it right this time around?

Goodreads / Amazon / Amazon UK



“We need to talk.”

Well, shit. That’s not good, Charli thought to herself as she continued pulling on her shorts.

She couldn’t decide if it was worse to hear those four fateful words from a boyfriend or a fuck buddy.

I guess I’m about to find out, was her wry thought as she finished zipping up the distressed jean shorts that barely covered her ass. With her eyes darting around the room to avoid eye contact with the man who claimed they needed to talk, she located one of her gold hoops on the rug.

Following her avoidant eyes, the other occupant of the room bent to pick it up before she had the chance.

“Thanks,” Charli spoke lowly as their fingers brushed during the exchange.

The warmth of his fingers led to a sharp inhale that she couldn’t even hide.

“Did you hear me?” the beautiful man in front of her wanted to know. “I said we need to talk,” he reiterated. Just in case.

But she’d heard him loud and clear the first time.

Sighing, Charli took a step back and shoved the earring into her pocket instead of trying to put it on right now.

“I heard you,” she said, trying to veil the worry in her voice.

What could Damian possibly want to talk about? And why couldn’t his timing be better? They’d just finished…making each other very happy. His scent still surrounded her and captivated her senses.

But now, the knots in her stomach quickly pushed her to forget the pleasure she’d just experienced.

“What do we need to talk about?” she finally asked meeting his green eyes. They were usually enchanting and full of lust when they were together, but now he looked…panicked?

No, it couldn’t be. Not cool, calm Damian.


Had he found a girlfriend? Was he about to end their arrangement and politely tell her to get on with her life?

The thought wasn’t a pleasant one, but Charli couldn’t really blame him.

As an Ivy League dropout and ex-socialite, she didn’t really feel like she had much to offer aside from a good time.

She winced inwardly and vowed to deal with the origins of that problematic thought later. Much later. Not now when she was standing face to face with the man she’d been trading orgasms with all summer.

Damian regarded her from his towering height of six-two and even though she was five-eight she felt miniscule under his unwavering gaze.

“It’s about us,” he revealed, “I need to talk to you about what we’re doing.”

Charli gulped but didn’t break eye contact. She could do this. She could have a civilized, adult conversation with someone she shared every inch of her body with on an almost daily basis at this point.

“What about us? I like what we’re doing.” Charli pushed her hair away from her face. She hated the sensation of stray strands tickling her cheeks.

Damian exhaled sharply and gave a faint nod. “Yea, I did too. Until recently.”


Charli straightened her shoulders and prepared for the next words, somehow knowing they would pack a devastating blow.

But nothing could have prepared her for what he said next.

Author Bio:

Shon is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She used her degree in English Literature for eight years to teach English all around the world. She has recently returned home to the States and now she spends all her time reading or writing down her wildest daydreams.


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Bookishly Inspired Find!
by Mad Hippo Art

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Sunday, 26 June 2022

House Boy by Lorenzo DeStefano

House Boy by Lorenzo DeStefano
Published by Atmosphere Press on the 5th June 2022.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An urban thriller with socio-political and racial overtones, HOUSE BOY by Lorenzo DeStefano is a fact-based tale that inhabits a shadowland where ancient traditions take root and prosper in our so-called modern world. In the polite suburb of Hendon, North London, in an undistinguished house at 321 Finchley Lane, the lives of a young man, Vijay Pallan, and a wealthy divorcee, Bindsa Tagorstani, intersect as if decreed by history. House Boy exposes readers to the harsh realities of human trafficking, the boundless capacity for human pain, and the ultimate blessing of even one man’s survival.

House Boy is a grimly real thriller exploring the tragedy of human trafficking through the tragic experiences of a young Indian man, Vijay, who, persuaded that there are great opportunities for him to come and work in England, instead finds himself forced into domestic slavery. I was strongly reminded of Mende Nazer's powerful memoir, Slave, and a note at the conclusion of House Boy acknowledging the man whose actual life inspired this novel reminded me that slavery is sadly still far from being a thing of the past.

DeStefano's detailed prose does make House Boy a difficult novel to read emotionally as readers bear witness to the appalling way in which Vijay is treated by his 'owner' and her son. I did wonder, at times, whether we did quite so many sickeningly intense scenes following on from each other, reinforcing the images we already had. I was particularly intrigued by the reactions of the few visitors to the house, all of whom were only too aware what was going on yet either would not risk their own relationships with Bindsa to intervene or did not seem to see anything wrong in the way she abused her house boy.

I think that House Boy is an important novel for raising awareness of a human tragedy that is all too often kept out of sight, its victims often also unfairly blamed for the predicament in which they find themselves. I'm not sure I would class it as a thriller myself, although its later courtroom scenes could appeal to crime fiction readers and the social commentary makes this quite different to other London novels I have read.

Bookishly Inspired Find!
by Honey Sweet Giggles

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Saturday, 25 June 2022

Ròna agus MacCodruim by Jason Bond

Ròna agus MacCodruim by Jason Bond
Published by Arcos in December 2020.

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

MacCodruim lives a lonely life as a fisherman in Scotland. His loneliness comes to an end when he meets the beautiful and mysterious Ròna. Although she seems a bit outlandish, he falls in love with her and they start a family together. They live a charmed life, yet something isn’t right. Will MacCodruim discover who Ròna truly is? Will Ròna learn his secret; one that could tear them apart?

This novel is part of the Arcos Series Learn Gaelic with Folk Tales for beginning and intermediate language learners. With limited vocabulary and a strong focus on high frequent language structures, these short novels make the beautiful Gaelic language and folk tale culture easily accessible to learners. Enjoy reading!

Leugh mi leubhar Gàidhlig! Tha mi cho toilichte agus caran pròiseil!
I read a Gaelic book! I am so happy and somewhat proud!
I've been learning Scottish Gaelic for a few months now using the Duolingo course and have also been making use of Jason Bond's excellent YouTube videos so, when I spotted he had written a couple of short fairytale books for Gaelic beginners, I was keen to give them a try.

Ròna agus MacCodruim is inspired by selkie folktales. The narrative itself is pretty simple, but fleshed out with details of MacCodruim's island home so it's an interesting tale yet still short enough not to intimidate someone who needs to visit the glossary a few times for every page - and sometimes to repeatedly look up the same word several pages running. Grrr! Practically every word is translated in the glossary with a few more colloquial phrases explained in footnotes at the end of each chapter. As a Gaelic learner, this was ideal for me and I appreciated this support even while I surprised myself by how much I could understand without having to 'cheat'.

I'm planning to reread Ròna agus MacCodruim again every so often until I can confidently complete it independently, and I am also going to pick up the second book in this series. Hopefully more stories might follow in due course as this is a really useful resource.

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by Mindfully Crafted Kits

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