Monday, 24 June 2019

Blog Tour Review: A Feast of Serendib by Mary Anne Mohanraj

A Feast of Serndib by Mary Anne Mohanraj
Rating: 4/5


Dark roasted curry powder, a fine attention to the balance of salty-sour-sweet, wholesome red rice and toasted curry leaves, plenty of coconut milk and chili heat. These are the flavors of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka was a cross roads in the sea routes of the East. Three waves of colonization—Portuguese, Dutch and British—and the Chinese laborers who came with them, left their culinary imprint on Sri Lankan food. Sri Lankan cooking with its many vegetarian dishes gives testimony to the presence of a multi-ethnic and multi -religious population.

Everyday classics like beef smoore and Jaffna crab curry are joined by luxurious feast dishes, such as nargisi kofta and green mango curry, once served to King Kasyapa in his 5th century sky palace of Sigiriya.
Vegetable dishes include cashew curry, jackfruit curry, asparagus poriyal, tempered lentils, broccoli varai and lime-masala mushrooms. There are appetizers of chili-mango cashews, prawn lentil patties, fried mutton rolls, and ribbon tea sandwiches. Deviled chili eggs bring the heat, yet ginger-garlic chicken is mild enough for a small child. Desserts include Sir Lankan favorites:  love cake, mango fluff, milk toffee and vattalappam, a richly-spiced coconut custard.

In A Feast of Serendib, Mary Anne Mohanraj introduces her mother’s cooking and her own Americanizations, providing a wonderful introduction to Sri Lankan American cooking, straightforward enough for a beginner, and nuanced enough to capture the flavor of Sri Lankan cooking.


I have a slight addiction to cooks so when the chance to review A Feast of Serendib by Mary Anne Mohanraj came up I jumped at the chance, especially as Sri Lankan food is something, I know nothing about and I’m always eager to learn about a new cuisine.

For me a good cookbook has to have three elements,  recipes that I want to cook which don’t contain loads of ingredients and numerous steps,  photographs of the majority of the recipes so I know what I’m aiming for and thirdly be an interesting read where I can learn something about the author, I think A Feast of Serendib has managed to achieved all three of these well.

There is a wide selection of recipes, so you really get a feel for the cuisine, with an emphasis on curried dishes but also recipes for some drinks and desserts which I liked. Many of the recipes call for the use of Sri Lankan curry powder and I’m pleased the author has included a recipe to make my own, apart from the dried curry leaves I already had most of the spices in my cupboards. I’ve not had the chance to make many of the recipes yet but from the few I’ve tried the Fish White Curry and the Tangy Peppered Beef Stew being favourites, just watch out for the peppercorns, my kids also liked the Garlic-Ginger Chicken.

Each recipe has its own photo and a little introduction about the dish which I really liked as t gives more insight into the recipes.  The book also has a detailed introduction which gives a lovely insight into the culture and cuisine of Sri Lanka. I think the author has done a great job with this cookbook and I’m looking forward to trying more recipes very soon.

Thank you so much to the author for sending me a copy to review and to Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be part of the blog tour.

About the Author

Mary Anne Mohanraj is the author of Bodies in Motion (HarperCollins), The Stars Change (Circlet Press) and thirteen other titles. Bodies in Motion was a finalist for the Asian American Book Awards, a USA Today Notable Book, and has been translated into six languages.  The Stars Change was a finalist for the Lambda, Rainbow, and Bisexual Book Awards.

Mohanraj founded the Hugo-nominated and World Fantasy Award-winning speculative literature magazine, Strange Horizons, and also founded Jaggery, a S. Asian & S. Asian diaspora literary journal ( She received a Breaking Barriers Award from the Chicago Foundation for Women for her work in Asian American arts organizing, won an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Prose, and was Guest of Honor at WisCon. She serves as Director of two literary organizations, DesiLit ( and The Speculative Literature Foundation (  She serves on the futurist boards of the XPrize and Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.

Mohanraj is Clinical Associate Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and lives in a creaky old Victorian in Oak Park, just outside Chicago, with her husband, their two small children, and a sweet dog.  Recent publications include stories for George R.R. Martin's Wild Cards series, stories at Clarkesworld, Asimov's, and Lightspeed, and an essay in Roxane Gay’s Unruly Bodies2017-2018 titles include Survivor (a SF/F anthology), Perennial, Invisible 3 (co-edited with Jim C. Hines), and Vegan Serendib.

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Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Blog Tour Review: Birdie & Jude by Phyllis H. Moore

Birdie & Jude by Phyllis H. Moore
Published: 20th March 2018
Pages: 338
Available on Kindle
Order now from Amazon
Rating: 4/5

A moving novel of loss, regret, denial, and discovery on Galveston Island, from the author of Opal’s Story and The Ember Months.
Birdie has lived to regret many of her decisions, but she doesn’t regret offering a stranger, Jude, shelter from an approaching hurricane. Their serendipitous meeting will form a bond that will change their lives forever.
In a character driven story with memories of the protests and inequality plaguing the 1960's, Birdie’s reached middle age and questions her life. Jude is striking out on her own, but has been derailed by a fatal accident claiming her only friend. Although their backgrounds and lives are vastly different, they recognize something in the other that forges a friendship.

As their relationship solidifies, they share glimpses of their pasts. Birdie is a product of the '60's, an aging hippie, with a series of resentments. She had a sheltered childhood in an upper class family. Her parents longed to see her make the Texas Dip at the Mardi Gras ball. Jude, however, entered foster care as an infant. Her parents, victims of a murder/suicide, left her and her siblings orphaned and separated.
There is something about their connection that strikes Birdie as familiar. Can souls know each other in different lives? Birdie struggles with the awareness that she has had regrets and hasn't lived an authentic life, while Jude faces an uncomfortable truth about her own. It has all the feels.

When Birdie finds Jude laid on the beach covered in dried blood and suffering from recent injuries Birdie is drawn to her and invites her back to her house to clean herself up and shelter from the impending storm. Birdie and Jude couldn’t be more different but quickly form a strong bond, almost as if they’d known each other before.

Birdie an aging hippy has led a sheltered life after refusing to follow her parents wishes of becoming a debutante. Battling her sexuality, she’s still mourning the lost of her closest friend Henry. Now she is reaching her later years she’s realised she’s wasted a lot of her life and is determined to change things. Jude is in her twenties and after a fatal accident leaves best friend Casey dead her plans for a trip to Europe. After spending most of her life moving between foster homes Jude’s never really felt like anywhere was home until she stays with Birdie, here she finally begins to feel settled.

It took me a while to get into this novel as its very character driven and initially, I found Birdie a little eccentric, but I liked how she took Jude under her wing and helped her feel safe. Ms. Moore has done a great job a creating to very detailed female characters who are very real, something which she should be very proud as so often characters can be a little two dimensional, not Birdie and Jude they show us many differing character aspects.

I did enjoy this novel of friendship and enduring spirits but in places it did drag a little in the middle. There were a couple of places where I wasn’t sure if Birdie was referring to the present day or memories from the past which did confuse me. Birdie and Jude is a wonderful character driven novel which explores relationships and society and the idea that spirits can revisit us in different forms. If you want to really get to know your characters, then I can highly recommend this novel.

Thank you to the author and Rachel’s random resources for sending me a copy to review and inviting me to be part of this blog tour.
About the Author

Phyllis H. Moore wants to live life experiences more than once: doing it, writing about it, and reading about it. The atmosphere of the south draws her in and repels her. The characters are rich with dysfunction and redemption, real. She’s had two careers and two retirements. Both careers gave her inspiration for her novels: The Sabine Series, Sabine, Billy’s StoryJosephine’s Journals and Secrets of Dunn House, Opal’s Story, Tangled, a Southern Gothic Yarn, and The Bright Shawl, Colors of Tender Whispers, The Ember Months, Birdie & Jude, and an anthology of spooky short stories inspired by real places and events, The Bridge on Jackson Road. In 2018 she also released a new genre for her, A Dickens of a Crime, a Meg Miller Cozy Mystery. She has authored one nonfiction book, Retirement, Now What? Phyllis has been published by Caffeinated Press in the anthology, Brewed Awakenings 2, Fifteen Tales to Jolt Your Mind Awake. She blogs on her web site Follow her on Pinterest and Facebook.

Phyllis is a retired social worker and former owner/operator of a small bed and breakfast. She’s lived in the rural areas and cities of south Texas. She currently lives on Galveston Island with her husband, Richard.

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Thursday, 13 June 2019

Summer Season on the Seafront by Kate Ginger

Summer Season on the Seafront by Kate Ginger
Published: 10th June 2019
Publisher: HQ Digital
Available on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

The Greenley Players are back practicing their Shakespeare and, as usual, things aren't going to plan.

Sarah Powell is fed up with her sad single status and when her estranged father walks back into her life things get even worse. Can dishy doctor Finn MacDonald mend her broken heart and help her figure things out?

TV star, Nate Hardy's career is going from strength to strength until his performance is interrupted and he has to flee the West End to hide away in Greenley. Will he ever get his career back on track or will Sarah and the rest of Greenley's madcap residents capture his heart forever? 

 Set in the lovely village of Greenley-on-Sea, Summer Season on the Seafront tells the story of the Greenley Players as they set out to perform their second Shakespeare play in the newly renovated theatre. The focus of the book is on Sarah who is playing Miranda the leading lady but with troubles in her own life Sarah is struggling to connect with her character and pull off a crowd-pleasing performance.

It wasn’t until I read a couple of chapters of this book that I realised it follows on from The Little Theatre on the Seafront published last year, this didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the book at all as Katie Ginger has given us enough background details that you can work out what happened previously. If you want the full story you can of course go and read that book first.

Sarah has been the previous star of the Greenley Players but she’s struggling to connect with her character, this might be because Miranda’s falling in love for the first time and for Sarah romance is sadly missing in her life. Still recovering from her cheating ex Vince she’s been on several disastrous dates while secretly harbouring a massive crush for her work colleague Finn MacDonald, the local doctor. I instantly connected with Sarah she’s a fun-loving girl who’s just starting to find her place in life after a few tragic years. She’s caring and supportive towards her friends and I was hoping she would find someone who would truly adore her so she could feel totally secure.

Actor Nate Hardy comes to Greenley-on-sea when his love life is splashed across the national newspapers and he needs a place to hide. To begin with I didn’t care much for Nate. He was portrayed as a famous actor who’d cheated on his wife then run away when things got tricky but as the story developed and we find out more about him he gained my sympathy. It must be hard to live in the limelight and have your every move scrutinized by outsiders. He helps the Greenley Players work on their performance and seems to form a special bond with Sarah. But when the dust settles, and he can return to his old life can Nate leave Greenley and Sarah behind.

I loved Summer Season on the Seafront, it maybe classed as a romance novel but has so much more to offer. I loved how the story revolved around the theatre and its production of The Tempest and gave a real feel for theatre life. The romance isn’t over the top and too mushy which for me makes this the perfect summer read. I’d love another visit to Greenley-on-Sea just to find out more about the notorious Mrs Andrews.

Thank you so much to the publishers and Katie Ginger for sending me a copy to review and to Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be part of the blog tour.

About the Author

Katie Ginger lives in the South East of England, by the sea, and apart from holidays to very hot places where you can sit by a pool and drink cocktails as big your head, she wouldn't really want to be anywhere else. Summer Season on the Seafront is Katie's second novel. Her debut novel The Little Theatre on the Seafront was shortlisted for the Katie Fforde Debut Novel of the Year award. She is also the author of some cosy mystery short stories. Katie loves making her characters either fall in love, or killing them off - it depends on her mood!
When she's not writing, Katie spends her time drinking gin, or with her husband, trying to keep alive her two children: Ellie, who believes everything in life should be done as a musical number from a West End show; and Sam, who is basically a monkey with a boy's face. And there's also their adorable King Charles Spaniel, Wotsit (yes, he is named after the crisps!).
For more about Katie you can visit her website:, find her on Facebook:, or follow her on Twitter: @KatieGAuthor

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