Friday, September 30, 2016

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Night Ringing" by Laura Foley: Poetry and a Cappuccino for Friday

I freely admit that most poetry intimidates me. I feel bad if I don't get it. But some times, and some poetry touches the heart and is good for the soul (and for a Friday). On today's TLC Book Tour stop, I am reviewing Night Ringing, a book of soul-filling poetry by Laura Foley, accompanied by a creamy soy cappuccino inspired by my reading. 


Publisher's Blurb:

“I revel in the genius of simplicity” Laura Foley writes as she gives us in plain-spoken but deeply lyrical moments, poems that explore a life filled with twists and turns and with many transformations. Through it all is a search for a fulfilling personal and sexual identity, a way to be most fully alive in the world. From multicultural love affairs through marriage with a much older man, through raising a family, through grief, to lesbian love affairs, Night Ringing is the portrait of a woman willing to take risks to find her own best way. And she does this with grace and wisdom. As she says: “All my life I’ve been swimming, not drowning.”

Paperback: 108 pages
Publisher: Headmistress Press (January 11, 2016)

My Review:

I am not one for critically reviewing books, I generally just give you my opinion--what I like and what I don't, what moves me, inspires me, makes me smile or brings a tear--and that's what I'll do with  this book of poetry. Night Ringing is a deeply personal and accessible collection of poems about the moments in life, both big and small. Even though the author has led a very different life than mine, I can relate to many of her feelings and many of these poems spoke to my soul. Incident in the Coffee Shop tells of a woman having her usual breakfast and an emotional moment when the waitress asks if everything is OK--only realizing in that moment that she meant the food. I can relate. Other poems capture moments at the doctor's office, the death of a parent, the end and the beginning of relationships, divorce, family secrets and issues, nature and different places. Emotions are expressed in clear tones and simple lines; the poems aren't  complicated and there is nothing to get or not get. It's a moving collection and one to savor. I kept the book by my bed and read a poem or two each morning, skipping around to balance the happy or peaceful emotions with the sad ones. If you enjoy poetry and poems about life, you will likely enjoy it and if you are new to, or intimidated by the thought of poetry, Night Ringing is a gentle place to start appreciating it. 

The first poem in the book, The Turtle, pulled me in with its beauty and simplicity and because I love turtles (honu in the Hawaiian language). Many of the poems in the book go very deep into emotions, happy or sad but this one easily captures the feeling and wonder of a turtle. I share it here, with a picture I took of a resting sea turtle on the beach at the North Shore.


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Author Notes: Laura Foley is an internationally published, award-winning poet, author of five collections. She won First Place in the Common Goods Poetry Contest, judged by Garrison Keillor, who read her poem on “A Prairie Home Companion”; and First Place in the National Outermost Poetry Prize, judged by Marge Piercy. Her poetry collections include: Night RingingThe Glass Tree and Joy Street. The Glass Tree won a Foreword Book of the Year Award; Joy Street won the Bisexual-Writer’s Award. Her poems have appeared in The Writer’s Almanac, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Pulse Magazine, Lavender Review, The Mom Egg Review, in the British Aesthetica Creative Writing Anthology, and many other journals.
 
A certified Shri Yoga Instructor and creative arts facilitator in hospitals, she is the mother of three grown children and has just become a grandmother. She and her partner Clara Gimenez live among the hills of Vermont with their three big dogs.

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Food Inspiration: 

There are a few mentions of food and several of coffee in Night Ringing like an aliigator burger--"Cajun-spiced and barbecued just right," ice cream, Chinese food, lemon chicken, pina coldas, a chocolate cherry, coffee beans, and a coffee shop with a breakfast of OJ, bialy, and eggs, poached easy. 

Since coffee shops were in a few of the poems, rather than make a dish, I took inspiration from My Own Hand, the last poem in the book and had a cappuccino from my favorite local coffee shop, made by one of my favorite baristas. It was definitely a cappuccino kind of day...


I'm linking up this review and recipe to 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 "Night Ringing" was provided to me by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. 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.


 Happy Aloha Friday!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Shrimp Tacos, Black Bean, Radish & Cheese Salad, and Red Hibiscus-Vanilla-Lime Agua Fresca for the Food 'N Flix and Cook the Books: Frida Kahlo Crossover Event

The best laid plans... I planned to be timely and do two separate posts for this month's Food 'N Flix and Cook the Books Crossover Event, but that just did not happen in a month where I swear I blinked and it was over. So the end of the month has me scrambling (as usual) and posting two dishes inspired by Frida Kahalo and from the Frida's Fiestas cookbook accompanied by a glass of simple Jamaica (Red Hibiscus) Vanilla-Lime Agua Fresca.


The wonderful Debra of Eliot's Eats is hosting both the Food and Flix movie pick of Frida (see her announcement post here) and the Cook the Books pick of The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo (see the announcement post here). 


I first saw Frida with friends when it came out in 2002, after a dinner of Indian food. (Unfortunately there were no decent Mexican restaurants nearby the old Indie theater, so what can you do? It worked much better thematically when we saw Monsoon Wedding!) Because of this movie, I will forever picture artist Frida Kahlo as Salma Hayek and Alfred Molina as her husband artist Diego Rivera no matter how many pictures I see of the real people. I remembered all the color (I love the way the paintings 'dissolve' into the movie scenes) and the basic story, but this time I got it from Netflix and watched it for the food. We don't see a lot of specific dishes in the film beyond Diego's favorite mole dish and some mentions of sopa Azteca and pozole, but there is plenty of food and drink (mostly tequila of course) pictured throughout, including lots of tropical fruits and veggies, Chinese food, a diner breakfast of cinnamon buns, eggs and bacon, a wedding feast, and corn being shucked. 


The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo on the other hand, is as much or more about the food as it is the story of Frida's life, told from the notebooks and sketchbooks supposedly found in Frida's home Casa Azul in Mexico City. The author, F. G. Haghenbeck, writes the novel as a special notebook; “El Libro de Hierba Santa” (“The Sacred Herbs Book”) where Frida's story is shared through her memories and recipes. Frida Kahlo led a very colorful life in more ways than one and the book is at times sad, at times humorous, at times a bit magical. It really does make a nice companion to the movie--providing more detail to parts and spinning out on its own for others. At times I didn't love the way it was written (and maybe that was due in part to the translation and word choice?), but overall it was easy to get swept up in the story. The recipes and food descriptions were my favorite part of the book and I will probably go back and make some of the recipes like the pico de gallo (if I ever find nopales), the pumpkin tamales, and the Mango Tepozteco Ice Cream which intrigued me with the addition of the sour cream and egg white.


I chose not to cook from the book for this round because a couple of month's ago I stumbled across a copy of Frida's Fiestas: Recipes and Reminiscences of Life with Frida Kahlo by Diego Rivera's daughter Guadalupe Rivera and journalist Marie-Pierre Colle for $5.00 at the thrift store. It is a gorgeous book with illustrations from Frida's work and photographs by Ignacio Urquiza.


I wanted something simple, meat-free and relatively healthy so I went with a dinner of Shrimp Tacos, accompanied by Bean, Radish and Cheese Salad. To drink, I made a simple Jamaica (Red Hibiscus) Vanilla-Lime Agua Fresca.
 

Shrimp Tacos
Adapted from Frida's Fiestas
(Serves 8)

1 medium onion, chopped
4 serrano chiles, chopped (or to taste--I used half & de-seeded them)
4 Tbsp butter
3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb cooked shrimp (I used large shrimp)
24 small-medium corn tortillas
(I added fresh lines to squeeze on when eating)

Saute the onion and chiles in butter until the onion is translucent. Add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are thoroughly cooked (about 10 minutes). If the sauce is too thick, thin it with a bit of broth or water.

Add the shrimp and cook until they are just warmed through--about 2 minutes. 

Grill or warm the tortillas and fill with the shrimp mixture. Serve piping hot. Or serve the shrimp mixture with the tortillas on the side.

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Bean, Radish and Chese Salad
Adapted from Frida's Fiestas
(Serves 8)

5 cups cooked black beans, drained
10 radishes, cut in quarters (I thinly sliced mine)
3/4 lb panela cheese (or Munster) cut in cubes (I used Cotija cheese)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Dressing:
2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp chopped cilantro
salt to taste

For salad: Mix the beans, radishes, cheese and cilantro in a large salad bowl and toss with the dressing.

For the dressing: Whisk all the ingredients together, seasoning to taste.


Jamaica (Red Hibiscus) Vanilla-Lime Agua Fresca
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen, Adapted/Inspired by The Vanilla Chef
(Makes 2 Quarts)

1 quart water
2/3 cup (about 1 ounce) dried hibiscus flowers
1 vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise
3/4 cup agave or honey, or to taste 
1/3 cup lime juice, or to taste
1 quart very cold water
lime slices

Bring a quart of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the hibiscus flowers and the vanilla bean to the boiling water. Remove the pan from the stove and allow it to steep for at least 20 minutes. Strain the mixture into a large glass pitcher. (You can save the vanilla bean for another use if you like). Add the agave or honey and stir well to dissolve. Add the cold water and lime juice and adjust sweetening as needed. Chill and serve over ice with slices of lime to garnish.


Notes/Results: This turned out to be quite the tasty meal! simple ingredients but really fresh and good flavors. I made half-ish quantities of the taco and salad recipes and the minor adjustments I made worked for me. First I used half the serrano chiles and I removed the stem, seeds, and membranes before chopping. I like a bit of spice but I find serranos are usually pretty spicy. These tacos had a definite kick still, so I know if I had doubled them as the recipe was written the tacos would have been too spicy for my tastes. I also think the squeeze of lime was perfect with the buttery shrimp and tomato. For the bean salad, I used my mandoline to thinly slice the radishes instead of quartering them. I am not big on chunks of radish, but I do like thin slices. Cotija cheese, a bit more crumbly than panela is readily available at my local grocery store and it was easier than driving into the Latin market to buy some panela. With the tacos, beans salad and the sweet and tart agua fresca, it was a perfect light dinner that was pretty quick to make. I would definitely make all three recipes again. 


The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo is my thirteenth foodie book entry for the Foodies Read 2016 event. You can check out the September Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month. 


Submissions for both Food 'N Flix and Cook the Books are due tomorrow, September 30th. Debra will be rounding entries up on her blog for Food 'N Flix and on the Cook the Book's site respectively. If you missed out and like food, books, and foodie books, join us at Cook the Books where our Oct/Nov pick is Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots by Jessica Soffer, hosted by Simona of briciole, and if you are a fan of food, movies, and making food inspired by movies, I will be hosting October's Food 'N Flix fun film: Beetlejuice, here at Kahakai Kitchen


 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Bookshop on the Corner" by Jenny Colgan, Served with Potato Scones with Butter

The only thing I like better than books about food, are books about books. On today's TLC Book Tour, I am reviewing the perfect cozy, novel about a play-it-safe librarian, who gets down-sized and decides to buy a van and start a mobile bookshop in the Scottish countryside. Along with my review of The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan, I am including a recipe for Potato (Tattie) Scones, inspired by the book.  


Publisher's Blurb: 

Nina Redmond is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion… and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more.

 Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile—a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling.

 From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (September 20, 2016)

My Review:

I had no doubts that I would love The Bookshop on the Corner as I have read and reviewed two of Colgan's other books, Little Beach Street Bakery and Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery and I loved them both. Plus, it's a book about books and a bookshop--which is pretty much catnip to me. Jenny Colgan's books are the equivalent of a cup of tea and a hug, no matter how bad a day you might be having, it is impossible not to smile and feel better when you read them. Of course they also make me want to pack up everything I own and move to the Cornish coast, or in this case Scotland, and after living in Hawaii for fifteen years, I am pretty sure my blood has thinned enough that I would not make it through a winter (perhaps not even through a spring or fall...). But, there is no denying the appeal of Colgan's hamlets and villages and their quirky residents and Kirrinfief is no exception with its farmers and townspeople more hungry for good books than any of them expected. 

Nina, the main character is timid and likes to hide behind her books in most situations,  but given the opportunity to match the right book to the right person, she comes alive. Nina is easily likable as she develops, finds her place in life, and looks for her own Happy-Ever-After. I also liked her friend and former roommate Surinder, the two potential love interests Marek and Lennox, Ainslee and Ben-the children she helps, and of course Parsley the dog. There are no big twists or surprises in this book, it is just good, sweet book-loving fun--starting with the author's "Message to Readers," dedicating the book to all readers and giving hints on the best places to read. I know Colgan has a passion for food and The Bookshop on the Corner makes clear her passion for books. There are plenty of references to classic books and genres, and I think some of my most favorite moments were finding out what kinds of books the different Kirrinfief-iens liked. My only (small) complaint is that I want more--more of Nina's story and hopefully Surinder's--so here's hoping for a sequel. If you love to read and think books are as necessary to living as air and food, you will love The Bookshop on the Corner. Enjoy it with a cup of tea and a potato scone or a lager, served with cheese and bread!

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Author Notes: Jenny Colgan is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous novels, including Little Beach Street Bakery, Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop, and Christmas at the Cupcake Café, all international bestsellers. Jenny is married with three children and lives in London and Scotland.

Find out more about Jenny at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Food Inspiration:

Although not food-focused as the other Jenny Colgan books I have read, there is plenty of food in The Little Bookshop on the Corner. There is mention of casserole and potpie, home-baked apple pie and cream, a delicious-sounding sandwich with fresh white bread, slathers of butter, ripe, crumbly local cheese, and homemade chutney with crisp pickled onions on the side. There is beer, lager, and ale, a breakfast ("a meal to be treated with respect") of local sausage, a huge bowl of porridge with honey, and fresh, thick cream, golden-yolked eggs, crispy bacon, black pudding and "triangular things that she thought were just toast but turned out to be some kind of thin potato cake." There were also cherry Bakewells from the service station, a bacon sandwich and a mug of tea, prosecco and gummy bears, cauliflower with cheese, scrambled eggs, local bacon and toast, tea cakes, biscuits and sausages, pina coladas, ginger sponge cake, soup, a picnic of little meat dumplings, blintzes, pickles, fresh radishes and champagne, cullen skink (a fishy, creamy soup) served with rough brown bread and locally smoked salmon, a Bacchus night drink that tasted like fizzy wine flavored with raspberries and breakfast the next day of porridge, bacon in rolls, sausage, kedgeree or scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, tea and coffee. Finally there were chocolate cookies, bananas, ice cream, and Irn-Bru (a Scottish orange-colored soda) and a volunteer's lunch of ham with piccalilli (an English version of Indian pickles), mustard and bread, sweating wheels of white and blue cheese, potato salad, "a cool cucumber and green cabbage salad with fennel, orange and oats," and more apple pie with warm, frothing cream from the dairy.


It was the potato scones that caught my eye--both the ones mentioned above and the pre-made ones Nina bought. I love anything having to do with potatoes and after looking online, they seem like a pretty popular breakfast dish in Scotland. I made an Irish version with oats once but I liked the idea of this simple "tattie scone" version. I used this recipe from The Guardian and this one from All Recipes for my scones--although I got lazy and patted mine out rather than rolling them--so they aren't quite as thin as they could/should be. ;-) But, they are quite delicious!

"Both the girls slept long and late the next day. Nina sat up about eleven as Surinder made coffee, and they both looked at something Nina had bought called "potato scones." In the end, they decided to toast them and slather them with butter, which turned out to be a better solution than either of them could have imagined possible, as they ate them looking out into the wintry sunlight." 


Potato Scones
Adapted from The Guardian and All Recipes.com
(Makes 6 or more, depending on how thin you roll them and what size you cut them!)

1 1/4 lb Russet potatoes
4 oz self-raising flour
1/2 stick butter + extra to fry with
salt to taste
 
Put the potatoes in a pan, cover with water, salt generously and bring to the boil. Simmer until cooked through, then drain well and return to the hot pan for a minute to dry off. Peel off the skins as soon as you can handle them.

Mash the warm potatoes together with the flour, butter, and salt until well-mixed and a stiff dough is formed.  Place dough on a lightly-floured work surface and gently knead it. Roll or pat dough out to about 1/2-inch thickness. Cut or pat into triangles.

Heat the remaining butter in a griddle or large heavy based frying pan over a medium-high heat. Working in batches, depending on pan size, fry potato scones until golden on both sides (about 3-5 minutes per side.)

Serve warm with butter.


Notes/Results: These are just simple, thin little cakes (much like a potato cake but made thinner) with good, buttery potato flavor. I enjoyed a couple with butter and a cup of tea as my breakfast, but they would be a great breakfast side dish with eggs, bacon, or whatever else you like. Mine could have been a bit prettier and more uniformly and better-shaped but I was lazy and in a hurry to make and eat them. I am sure I will happily make them again.


I'm linking up this review and recipe to 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 "The Bookshop on the Corner" was provided to me by the publisher, Harper Collins and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. 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.



 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Mark Bittman's Creamy Spinach Soup (Made Vegan) for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

There are weeks when you want to fuss over a pot of soup and there are weeks when you want something creamy and delicious, but you want it quickly. That's where Mark Bittman comes in. I have made a few of his "customizable soups" from this 2011 New York Times article and they are always easy and tasty. 


I had a big container of organic baby spinach that I have not been using as quickly as I should so I decided to make this Creamy Spinach Soup, which gets its creaminess and a nice tangy flavor from Greek yogurt. Because I limit my dairy for my asthma and allergies, I replaced the yogurt with some simple cashew creme, adding lemon juice to give it some tang. My changes to his recipe sketch are in red below.  


Creamy Spinach Soup
Adapted from Mark Bittman's via The New York Times
(Serves 4)

Put 1 chopped onion, 2 peeled garlic cloves, 3 cups water (I used light veggie broth) and salt and pepper in a pot over high heat. Boil, cover, lower the heat and simmer until the onion is tender, about 10 minutes. 

Add 10 ounces chopped spinach and 1/2 cup parsley leaves; cook until the spinach is tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1 cup Greek-style yogurt (I used cashew creme with 1 tbsp lemon juice) and purée. Garnish: A spoonful of Greek-style yogurt (I used cashew creme) and chopped parsley.


Notes/Results:  Great flavor for just a few ingredients and a short amount of time. The brightness from the yogurt or in this case, cashew creme and lemon juice keep it from being too 'green' and spinachy and make it delicious. If you aren't interested in making this soup dairy/free or vegan and have yogurt, go ahead and use it, or if you didn't want to use cashew cream, add a plain non-dairy yogurt or sour cream. It's a flexible recipe. This is a great 'dipping soup'--I brushed a couple of thick pieces of French bread with olive oil and toasted them so they were crispy on the outside, soft inside. Perfect! It would also be great with a grilled cheese. I would happily make it again. 
 

I am linking this soup up at I Heart Cooking Clubs for Potluck week--our chance to make any recipe from our current or previous IHCC chefs. You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post.
 

We have some good friends in the Souper Sundays kitchen who shared some delicious dishes last week--let's have a look! 


Simona of briciole made this Slow-Roasted Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho for the Soup Swap Party Event and says, "The book arrived in time for me to make several batches of the gazpacho to adjust the recipe to my liking. In particular, I used shallot (scalogno) from my garden, roasted the pepper (peperone) and used my favorite varieties of cucumber (cetriolo). I also halved the amount of tomatoes, since I never made the recipe for a party."



Vicki of I'd Rather Be At The Beach made this Ham, Turkey, & Sharp Cheddar Panini and said, "I enjoy a good Panini once in a while, and this is a good one for when you don’t have a tomato or avocado on hand. I definitely would have added them if I’d had some, but this was still a yummy Panini. Sometimes it’s good to go simple."



Tina of Squirrel Head Manor made a hearty veggie rice skillet dinner and used the leftovers in these Pita Pockets with Rice and Veggies. She said, "There was enough for two main meals and one lunch. For our lunch we used whole wheat pitas stuffing them with fresh spinach, chopped tomato and the remainder of the rice skillet. Paired up with a yogurt and that was a satisfying lunch."
 

A big thank you to everyone who joined in this week!

Souper Sundays is back with a new format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following 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 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.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • please mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post.
  • you are welcome to add the wonderful Souper Sundays logo (created by Ivy at Kopiaste) to your post and/or blog (optional).



Have a happy, healthy week!
 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Kept Woman" by Karin Slaughter, Served with Quick & Easy Peanut Butter and Granola Protein Bars

Congratulations to Karin Slaughter as her thriller, The Kept Woman, hits bookstores today! I am happy to be a stop on the TLC Book Tour for this latest installment of her popular Will Trent series. I am pairing my review with some Quick & Easy Peanut Butter and Granola Protein Bars--to provide some quick energy to the hard-working Georgia Bureau of Investigation team as they solve the crimes.


Publisher's Blurb:

Husbands and wives. Mothers and daughters. The past and the future.
Secrets bind them. And secrets can destroy them.
 
The author of Pretty Girls returns with an electrifying, emotionally complex thriller that plunges its fascinating protagonist into the darkest depths of a mystery that just might destroy him.
 
With the discovery of a murder at an abandoned construction site, Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is brought in on a case that becomes much more dangerous when the dead man is identified as an ex-cop.
 
Studying the body, Sara Linton—the GBI’s newest medical examiner and Will’s lover—realizes that the extensive blood loss didn’t belong to the corpse. Sure enough, bloody footprints leading away from the scene indicate there is another victim—a woman—who has vanished . . . and who will die soon if she isn’t found.
 
Will is already compromised, because the site belongs to the city’s most popular citizen: a wealthy, powerful, and politically connected athlete protected by the world’s most expensive lawyers—a man who’s already gotten away with rape, despite Will’s exhaustive efforts to put him away.
 
But the worst is yet to come. Evidence soon links Will’s troubled past to the case . . . and the consequences will tear through his life with the force of a tornado, wreaking havoc for Will and everyone around him, including his colleagues, family, friends—and even the suspects he pursues.
 
Relentlessly suspenseful and furiously paced, peopled with conflicted, fallible characters who leap from the page, The Kept Woman is a seamless blend of twisty police procedural and ingenious psychological thriller — a searing, unforgettable novel of love, loss, and redemption.

Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (September 20, 2016)

My Review:

A confession; I signed up to review The Kept Woman based on loving the creepiness that was Slaughter's last book, Pretty Girls (my review is here) and having no idea that it was the eighth book in a popular series. My bad completely, because I didn't pay attention. One of my quirks is that I absolutely hate not reading a series in order and in this case I was seven books behind. At first, it made a difference because I found myself annoyed by Will Trent and his actions and somewhat frustrated with the book. Slaughter does do a great job of bringing in the back story as the book progresses which helped, and then I hit a turning point where the action ratcheted up big time, Slaughter's mastery of creepy, pulse-pounding tension took over and soon the fact that I didn't know these characters ceased to matter. So I guess if you twist my arm, I will admit that The Kept Woman could be read as a standalone, but personally it is not the way I like to do it.

Once I found myself understanding Will, I began to like him more and began to bond with him and his team. Slaughter writes her characters well--no one is perfect, there are layers to uncover, and there are varying shades in and between good and evil. Faith (Will's partner), Amanda (his boss), and Sara (his love interest) are all strong and interesting women. Angie, his ex-wife is definitely complicated and evil beyond words, but Slaughter writes her so that there is a (very small) kernel of empathy generated for her. The timeline goes back and forth between the main crime, a week before and a few days after in a seamless way that lets the story unfold and kept me guessing about how it would all play out. Like Pretty Girls, The Kept Woman is a dark and twisty book and there are some pretty graphic descriptions of the crime scenes and forensic details, as well as domestic violence and sexual abuse--so it's not for the faint of heart. There is a quote on the book cover about Karin Slaughter from Gillian Flynn that says, "I would follow her anywhere." Even after only two books, I agree with Flynn, when it comes to thrillers and crime procedurals, Slaughter is a master. So as gigantic as my TBR pile is, I have a feeling the Will Trent books one through seven will be added very soon.  

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Author Notes: Karin Slaughter is the #1 internationally bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including the Will Trent and Grant County series and the instant New York Times bestselling standalones, Cop Town and Pretty Girls. There are more than 35 million copies of her books in print around the world.
 
Find out more about Karin at her website and connect with her on Facebook.



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Food Inspiration:
 
The Kept Woman is not a foodie book. Most of the food mentioned consists of an energy drink, candy bars and Skittles, Cheetos and Pringles, burgers, a wilted-looking chicken salad from a hospital cafeteria, peanuts, root beer, some fresh peaches, coffee and McDonald's breakfast platters and ice cream. Add to that the often graphic forensic descriptions and the book doesn't exactly call for food.


I decided to go with a simple protein bar, perfect for cops, state investigators, and criminals on the go (except Faith who is diabetic). I tucked in some vanilla protein powder and natural crunchy peanut butter for protein, granola for fiber, and honey and dark chocolate to add sweetness and make them a little candy-bar like. They go together quickly and are easy to grab for a quick snack or breakfast on the go.


Quick & Easy Peanut Butter & Granola Protein Bars
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 8-12 bars depending on how you cut them)

2/3 cup natural crunchy peanut butter
1/3 cup honey

1 pinch sea salt
1 cup granola of choice (I like this Nature's Path kind)
2 Tbsp protein powder of choice (I like vanilla)

1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

coarse or flaky sea salt to garnish (optional)

Lightly grease a square or small rectangular pan (8x8" or 9x7"), line with parchment paper and set aside. 

In a large pot, heat the peanut butter and honey over medium-low heat, until it has thinned out. Remove pot from heat and stir in granola and protein powder and mix thoroughly. If the mixture is two thick, add just a bit of non-dairy milk to get it to a thick but still moldable consistency. 

Place the mixture into the pan and pat down to cover the bottom of the pan evenly. 

Melt chocolate chips in the microwave, using 30 seconds intervals and mixing in between until melted and smooth. Cover the top of the peanut butter mixture with the chocolate and spread evenly. Top with a sprinkle of sea salt if desired. 

Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour or until bars have hardened. Cut into squares or rectangles and enjoy. Keep bars stored, covered tightly in refrigerator.


Notes/Results:  Crunchy, chewy, sweet and salty, these bars are a treat that while not entirely healthy, are certainly better than your average candy bar from the vending machine and most store-bought granola bars. You could of course use oats or another cereal in place of the granola, but I like the crunch the granola adds. The honey helps, along with the peanut butter, to hold things together but if you want a vegan bar, you could use maple syrup. The sprinkle of sea salt gives that nice sweet and salty balance and the protein powder is hidden in the mix in terms of flavor and texture but gives them an added boost of nutrition. Perfect with a cup of coffee or tea, I would make them again.  


I'm linking up this review and recipe to 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 "The Kept Woman" was provided to me by the publisher, Harper Collins and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. 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.