ARC Review: Top Ten by Katie Cotugno

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I received an ARC from HCC Frenzy’s Frenzy Presents event.

Title: Top Ten
Author: Katie Cotugno
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Stars: 3.5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Ryan McCullough and Gabby Hart are the unlikeliest of friends. Introverted, anxious Gabby would rather do literally anything than go to a party. Ryan is a star hockey player who can get any girl he wants—and does, frequently. But against all odds, they became not only friends, but each other’s favorite person. Now, as they face high school graduation, they can’t help but take a moment to reminisce and, in their signature tradition, make a top ten list—counting down the top ten moments of their friendship:

10. Where to begin? Maybe the night we met.
9. Then there was our awkward phase.
8. When you were in love with me but never told me…
7. Those five months we stopped talking were the hardest of my life.
6. Through terrible fights…
5. And emotional makeups.
4. You were there for me when I got my heart broken.
3. …but at times, you were also the one breaking it.
2. Above all, you helped me make sense of the world.
1. Now, as we head off to college—how am I possibly going to live without you?

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon

Top Ten is exactly what is sounds like—a nostalgic recap of a four year friendship told in a top ten list format. This story is realistic and contains two opposite main characters. The non-sequential writing style is inventive, but does get a bit hard to follow. I still enjoyed the story, and it truly is an emotional rollercoaster.

This book recaps the friendship of two teens about to head off to college. It focuses on their top ten moments, some good and some bad, but all of which define their relationship. It is so entertaining watching Gabby and Ryan’s relationship develop and experiencing their best moments along with them. Top Ten has everything—a bisexual main character with anxiety, her friend who plays hockey, and an amazing family. For those looking for a cute and realistic story with representation, I would definitely recommend this one.

Gabby and Ryan are both ideal characters for this story. Gabby is more introverted and suffers with anxiety while Ryan is on the wilder side. They are both so different, but their friendship works out. I really enjoyed how the book actually focuses on their friendship, and there isn’t much romance between them. I personally preferred Gabby’s character, since Ryan’s recklessness got a bit frustrating sometimes, but Ryan also had his moments. The story is told in multiple points of view, so the reader is able to experience both characters equally.

The way Top Ten is written is super unique, but I can see how it can turn some people away. Since the story is told as a top ten list, the plot isn’t chronological. As a reader, I had to be super aware of the year before starting each chapter. For me, it was a bit confusing at first, but I got used to it. I’m still not quite sure how I feel about this format, since it is creative, but hard to follow at times. I would have preferred chronological order, but I guess the story wouldn’t be the same.

Top Ten is an original story featuring the top ten moments of a friendship. I enjoyed the main characters’ opposite personalities and how realistic they are. The format of this book is unconventional, which is interesting, but also a bit confusing at times. I still found the book to be enjoyable, and classic Katie Cotugno.

ARC Review: Last Star Burning by Caitlin Sangster

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I received an e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Last Star Burning
Author: Caitlin Sangster
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): To escape execution for a crime she didn’t commit, seventeen-year-old Sev is forced to run away from the only home she’s ever known in this exciting start to a brand-new fantasy series from debut author Caitlin Sangster.

Sev has been tattooed with the White stars of a criminal since she was eight. That’s the penalty for being the daughter of the woman who betrayed their entire nation.

Now her mother’s body is displayed above Traitor’s Arch, kept in a paralyzed half-sleep by the same plague that destroyed the rest of the world. And as further punishment, Sev must do hard labor to prove that she’s more valuable alive than dead.

When the government blames Sev for a horrific bombing, she must escape the city or face the chopping block. Unimaginable dangers lurk outside the city walls, and Sev’s only hope of survival lies with the most unlikely person—Howl, the chairman’s son. Though he promises to lead her to safety, Howl has secrets, and Sev can’t help but wonder if he knows more about her past—and her mother’s crimes—than he lets on.

But in a hostile world, trust is a luxury. Even when Sev’s life and the lives of everyone she loves may hang in the balance.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | iBooks

It has been a while since I’ve read a dystopian, but I’m glad I picked up Last Star Burning. This is such an original story that is filled with political intrigue and plot twists. The main character is so likeable and fierce, and the setting is incredibly complex. This book is one not to be missed!

This book is so action-packed that it is impossible to put down! It tells the story of a girl wrongly accused of a bombing who flees from the city to escape execution. However, she is already branded as a traitor because of her mother’s past actions, making it even more difficult to survive. Sev meets many new people while on the run, namely the chairman’s son, and learns the truth about the frightening disease going around the nation. Last Star Burning is full of plot twists and intrigue, and is sure to keep the reader on the edge of their seat.

Sev is the perfect main character for a dystopian like this one. She is orphaned, and her mother’s past follows her wherever she goes, but she stays strong. I liked how Sev is curious, but also cautious. She is willing to do whatever it takes to survive and fight for her rights. Sev is a character with an interesting backstory, and it is very enjoyable uncovering the truth about her past along with her.

I adored the world of Last Star Burning! It is kind of like a dystopian China, and I found it to be very complex. Everything is so well thought out, including the government and the social class system. The setting is logical, but there is also a lot of secrecy and information to be revealed. There is a disease going around called Sleeping Sickness based on a real condition, and Last Star Burning doesn’t leave any holes. This world is so developed, and it is so easy to become immersed in it while reading.

Last Star Burning is a brilliant dystopian novel with an intelligent and sassy main character. The world is so unique and adds so much complexity to the book. I would definitely recommend this one, even if you aren’t a big dystopian fan, since it is so captivating and will really stick with the reader.

Blog Tour, ARC Review, Playlist, Dream Cast & Giveaway: 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

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book cover

13 Minutes
by Sarah Pinborough
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: October 3rd 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller, Crime, Mystery, Fiction

Synopsis:

“Mean Girls for the Instagram age.” –The Times (London)

The New York Times bestselling author known for her thrilling twists is back: 

They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart.

Natasha doesn’t remember how she ended up in the icy water that night, but she does know this–it wasn’t an accident, and she wasn’t suicidal. Her two closest friends are acting strangely, and Natasha turns to Becca, the best friend she dumped years before when she got popular, to help her figure out what happened.

Natasha’s sure that her friends love her. But does that mean they didn’t try to kill her?

13 Minutes is a psychological thriller with a killer twist from the #1 internationally bestselling author Sarah Pinborough.

Goodreads | Amazon| B & N | Book Depository | iBooks | Kobo | IndieBound

UnknownSarah Pinborough is a critically acclaimed adult and YA author based in London.

Sarah was the 2009 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story and also the 2010 and 2014 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Novella, and she has four times been short-listed for Best Novel. She is also a screenwriter who has written for the BBC and has several original television projects in development.

Her next novel, Behind Her Eyes, coming for HarperFiction in the UK and Flatiron in the US (January 2017) has sold in nearly 20 territories worldwide and is a dark thriller about relationships with a kicker of a twist.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter

Review

If you love a fast-paced, shocking thriller, then 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough is sure to fit the bill. The storytelling is perfect for this type of novel and keeps the reader involved right up until the end. What makes this book particularly exciting, however, are the characters who are relatable and all too recognizable in your typical high school.

When a book moves quickly, it is usually hard to set down, making it the perfect nail-biter. 13 Minutes is definitely one that will keep you page-fipping as the story moves in different directions. Pinborough definitely knows how to engage a reader and keep the plot moving.

The way in which the book is laid out is essentially what turns a suspenseful book into something that the reader can feel involved in. 13 Minutes is told in multiple POVs, journal entries, and newspaper clippings. It feels as though the reader is helping to piece the puzzle together along with the characters.

The realistic nature of this thriller is what will absolutely send shivers up your spine. The cliques, the mean girls, the bullies, and the victims are all present and accounted for in this high school murder mystery. Natasha is one of those dislikable mean girls, while Becca is an old cast-away friend of Natasha’s. Pinborough seems to get into the mindset of these girls, making their actions even more chilling with their relatability.

Fans of the thriller genre are sure to enjoy 13 Minutes. Although it is a YA novel, some of the content is definitely geared to a more mature audience. I would recommend it to those who enjoy an edgy high school thriller that will keep you on your toes.

 

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  • 1 ARC of 13 MINUTES by Sarah Pinborough
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ARC Review: Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh

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I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

Title: Sweet
Author: Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): There’s nothing like a perfectly light sponge flavoured with spices and citrus or an icing-sugar-dusted cookie to raise the spirits and create a moment of pure joy.’

In his stunning new baking and desserts cookbook Yotam Ottolenghi and his long-time collaborator Helen Goh bring the Ottolenghi hallmarks of fresh, evocative ingredients, exotic spices and complex flavourings – including fig, rose petal, saffron, aniseed, orange blossom, pistachio and cardamom – to indulgent cakes, biscuits, tarts, puddings, cheesecakes and ice cream.

Sweet includes over 110 innovative recipes, from Blackberry and Star Anise Friands, Tahini and Halva Brownies, Persian Love Cakes, Middle Eastern Millionaire’s Shortbread, and Saffron, Orange and Honey Madeleines to Flourless Chocolate Layer Cake with Coffee, Walnut and Rosewater and Cinnamon Pavlova with Praline Cream and Fresh Figs.

There is something here to delight everyone – from simple mini-cakes and cookies that parents can make with their children to showstopping layer cakes and roulades that will reignite the imaginations of accomplished bakers.

Goodreads | Amazon

I have never had the pleasure of visiting an Ottolenghi restaurant, however it is definitely one thing on my travel to-do list. When I saw this recipe book was available for request, I was instantly excited to give it a try. The images are stunning, the layout is simple, and the instructions are easy to follow. That being said, depending on where you live, some of the interesting ingredients required to create these unique treats may be hard to find.

Admittedly, I have quite a large sweet tooth, so a collection of yummy new desserts to make is something that brings me joy. Sweet is a collection of cookies, cakes, and more that can be made at any time of the year. Although the instructions are clear and concise,  these recipes are geared towards experienced bakers. The techniques and tools that are required do involve some prior training, and while the recipes could be made with the assistance of children, it may be a bit overwhelming to tackle.

I do enjoy creating interesting and new treats. One thing that I discovered about my own habits, however, is that simplicity is something I strive for. I found myself drooling over all of the recipes included in Sweet, but just didn’t have the desire to put in the effort required to create most of the desserts.

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Orange and Star Anise Shortbread

I did opt to make the Orange and Star Anise Shortbread cookies. Sourcing most of the ingredients was fairly simple. The Italian and rice flours, vanilla beans, and star anise took me to 2 different stores to find. As the instructions are laid out quite well, these cookies turned out as expected and were absolutely an explosion of flavours in your mouth. The star anise is a very unique addition to a shortbread cookie and gives a flavour of liquorice to the cookie. Also, my entire house was filled with a wonderful aroma that was so enjoyable.

The citrus and spice combinations that can be found within the pages of Sweet are incredible. The book is a gorgeous addition to any baker’s collection. For those who enjoy a challenge in the kitchen, I highly recommend giving these recipes a try.

ARC Review: Ringer by Lauren Oliver

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I received an e-arc from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Ringer
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Like its ambitious companion novel, Replica, this far-reaching novel by powerhouse bestselling author Lauren Oliver digs deep into questions of how to be a human being in a world where humanity cannot be taken for granted.

In the world outside the Haven Institute, Lyra and Caelum are finding it hard to be human—and neither of them knows where they belong or who they can trust. When Caelum leaves without warning to pursue the dream of a place he belongs, Lyra follows him, convinced that together they will hunt down a cure for the illness that’s slowly consuming her mind. But what they uncover is a shocking connection to their past—even as their future seems in danger of collapsing.

After discovering the uncomfortable truth about her connection to the Haven Institute, Gemma struggles to return to her normal life. But when she learns that her controlling and powerful father has new plans for Lyra and Caelum, Gemma and her boyfriend, Pete, leave in the middle of the night to warn them of the danger they face.When an untimely accident derails them, they are mistaken for the escaped replicas and seized by strangers hired to capture them. The Haven Institute wasn’t destroyed after all, and now Gemma is the one behind the walls.

Lyra’s and Gemma’s stories can be read separately—with either story first—or in alternating chapters, but no matter which way you turn the book, the two distinct stories combine into one breathtaking experience for both heroines and readers alike.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | iBooks

I have been awaiting this second instalment in the Replica series for a year now, and I was not at all disappointed with the outcome. Ringer is just as eerie, and the original layout of the book is the same as the first. My favourite story was Gemma’s, but Lyra’s is still gripping. If you have yet to pick these books up, I definitely recommend that you do so this fall.

This sequel to Replica tells the story of human clones and mistaken identity. What is interesting about this story in particular is that Lyra and Gemma’s positions are now swapped. Gemma is mistaken for a Replica and imprisoned while Lyra is on the hunt for a cure for her illness. I can’t say too much because of spoilers, but I really enjoyed the scientific aspects of the book and the well-thought out plot twists. Ringer is full of intrigue and is the perfect conclusion to the Replica duology.

What is so unique about the way Ringer is written is the multitude of reading options provided. Gemma and Lyra’s stories are separate, yet they connect. Because of this, the reader can either read each perspective separately or alternate after every chapter. Because I read the ebook edition of this book, it was hard to alternate, but it is interesting how both stories are so synced. I love the setup of the Replica books, and I would definitely like to see more books with this format.

Of the two stories, I personally enjoyed Gemma’s better. I liked her more as a character, and her experiences contained more action and suspense. There are also more sci-fi aspects in her story, which I preferred to Lyra’s more contemporary story. Lyra’s story is still enjoyable, but compared to Gemma’s I just found it to be a bit lacking.

Ringer is the action-packed sequel to Replica in which Gemma and Lyra’s positions are switched. I enjoyed the originality of the plot and the creative layout of the book itself. I personally preferred Gemma’s side of the story, but both stories are still thrilling.

Review: Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

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I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Genuine Fraud
Author: E. Lockhart
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Stars: 3/5

Summary (from Goodreads): The story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon

I was so excited when I heard that E. Lockhart had a new book out that is inspired by The Talented Mr. Ripley. I loved We Were Liars, and The Talented Mr. Ripley is such an interesting story that I haven’t seen retold before. However, as I was reading, I noticed that there isn’t actually much difference between the two stories. If you are familiar with The Talented Mr. Ripley, I wouldn’t recommend Genuine Fraud, as the plot won’t come as much of a shock.

What is interesting about Genuine Fraud is the use of reverse chronological order. The book starts with the ending and ends with the beginning, and this could have been really cool if it didn’t take away from the story itself. Because most of the action is at the beginning, the book falls flat near the end. I found the reverse chronology to be confusing as well, since there are so many jumps backwards. By the time I reached the end of the book, I was lost, and I had forgotten most of what the ending (or the beginning in this case) was explaining.

This book was well written, and it definitely has a lot of potential, but it just wasn’t for me. If you enjoy books written with reverse chronology, you may really enjoy this one. I had such high hopes for Genuine Fraud, and I’m disappointed that it wasn’t as enjoyable as E. Lockhart’s other books.

ARC Review: Things I’m Seeing Without You by Peter Bognanni

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I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Things I’m Seeing Without You
Author: Peter Bognanni
Publisher: Dial Books
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Seventeen-year-old Tess Fowler has just dropped out of high school. She can barely function after learning of Jonah’s death. Jonah, the boy she’d traded banter with over texts and heartfelt e-mails.

Jonah, the first boy she’d told she loved and the first boy to say it back.

Jonah, the boy whose suicide she never saw coming.

Tess continues to write to Jonah, as a way of processing her grief and confusion. But for now she finds solace in perhaps the unlikeliest of ways: by helping her father with his new alternative funeral business, where his biggest client is . . . a prized racehorse?

As Tess’s involvement in her father’s business grows, both find comfort in the clients they serve and in each other. But love, loss, and life are so much more complicated than Tess ever thought. Especially after she receives a message that turns her life upside down.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon

I wasn’t really sure what I was going into when I first heard about Things I’m Seeing Without You. It is about a girl who loses her boyfriend to suicide, and the main character has an entertaining personality. But what really drew me in was the alternative funeral business. It makes the story a little bit lighter and glances out the sadness of the story. I really enjoyed this one, and I found it to be a unique approach to the grieving process.

This book tells the story of a girl recovering from the suicide of her boyfriend. Their relationship was mostly online, so she logs in and writes to him even though he will never be able to respond. Through her messages, she makes some shocking discoveries about Jonah’s true identity, and even meets someone new. Tess also starts working for her father at his unique funeral business, which helps her cope with her grief. I really enjoyed reading about the business and Tess’s experiences planning unconventional funerals that are more entertaining. This book may seem depressing, but you’ll actually find yourself laughing out loud.

Tess’s character really lights the mood of this story. She is a high school dropout with a sarcastic and witty attitude. The way she acts and deals with her grief is realistic and believable for someone her age. However, you can tell that she was written by a male author. Tess is easy to sympathize with, and the fact that she loses her first boyfriend is so heartbreaking. She really transforms throughout the book as she moves on, and it is so touching to read.

This story is actually pretty funny for a book that is about grief. I really enjoyed the way topics like death are handled and balanced out with humour so that the story isn’t all sad. The funeral business provides a lot of comic relief and introduces some quirky characters. Things I’m Seeing Without You really has a unique take on the grieving process, and I would definitely recommend it to those in the mood for a heavier read.

Things I’m Seeing Without You is a heart-wrenching story about a girl moving on from the death of her first boyfriend. The main character is so real, and her sarcasm brings some humour to the book. This book really blends humour and sorrow, so it isn’t actually as depressing as I had anticipated.

 

ARC Review: Kiss Me in New York by Catherine Rider

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I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Kiss Me in New York
Author: Catherine Rider
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): It’s Christmas Eve at JFK in NYC.

Charlotte is a British student, waiting for a flight home after the worst semester of her life. Anthony is a native New Yorker, surprising his girlfriend at the airport after three months apart. Charlotte has just been dumped, and Anthony is about to be dumped, right in the middle of the holiday crowd.

Charlotte’s flight is canceled when a blizzard blows in, and Anthony can’t bear to go home. So, they set out into the city together, clutching a book Charlotte picks up in the airport gift shop: Ten Easy Steps for Getting Over Your Ex. For this one night, they’ll focus on healing their broken hearts … together.

Step-by-step, the two struggle to put the past behind them. But the snow is so enchanting, and the holiday lights are so beguiling, that soon their shared misery gives way to something else. Soon, they’re not only over their exes — they’re falling for each other.

Then a subway ride splits them up by mistake. Will they reunite before Charlotte’s flight leaves New York forever?

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon

Kiss Me in New York is a cute read that will cheer you up this winter. Although a bit clichéd, the story of two strangers meeting at an airport in New York is so entertaining. The idea of two people bonding over a breakup is heartwarming, and the main character is logical and doesn’t whine. This story is super short and can easily be read in one sitting.

This book tells the story of two people who meet at an airport coincidentally after they are both dumped. Together, with the help of Get Over Your Ex in Ten Easy Steps, they attempt to move on from their past relationships while exploring New York City at Christmastime. I loved watching Charlotte and Anthony’s relationship grow as they complete each step in the book, and reading about their adventures and mishaps is so entertaining. Kiss Me in New York is a super short and quick read that is perfect for fans of books like Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares.

I really enjoyed Charlotte’s character in the book. She is a British girl on her way home to her family after studying in America, but her flight gets cancelled and leaves her stranded. She is strong and not too whiny about the cancellation, and I liked how she is both rational and impulsive at the same time. Because Charlotte is British, she uses British slang, and it is so comedic watching Anthony, who is American, react to the difference between their words. Charlotte and Anthony are both enjoyable narrators, and their relationship is so adorable.

Kiss Me in New York is a short and sweet read that is perfect for the Christmas season. The main characters’ adventures in New York are so amusing, and Charlotte is a strong and considerate main character. Definitely add this book to your winter TBR!

ARC Review: The Dinner Plan by Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion

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I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Title: The Dinner Plan: The Keepers Guide to Weeknight Meals and More
Authors: Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion
Publisher: Abrams
Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): From the authors of the IACP award-winning cookbook KEEPERS, an entirely new and personalized approach to tackling the dinner dilemma:

Between juggling work, family activities, mismatched schedules, and often bare refrigerators, there are all sorts of situations that make weeknight cooking a universally challenging—and frustrating—experience. The Dinner Plan offers five meal strategies—Make-Ahead, Staggered, One-Dish, Extra-Fast, and Pantry—that will help get dinner on the table no matter what the workweek throws at you. The 135 recipes—from main dishes to sides to salads and “lifesaver” condiments—provide lots of practical options whether time is super-tight, you haven’t had a chance to run to the store, or everyone is coming home at a different time.

And most importantly, all of the recipes are “keepers”—brag-worthy, reliable, crowd-pleasing preparations that you’ll confidently turn to again and again. Shrimp Scampi, Sheet-Pan Chicken Fajitas, Foolproof Carbonara, and Mexican Skillet Lasagna are just a few examples of doable recipes that will earn their place in any busy cook’s repertoire. Rounded out with plenty of tips and a bonus section on healthful snacks called The Forgotten Meal, The Dinner Plan is every home cook’s indis­pensable weeknight dinner guide.

Goodreads | Amazon

If there is one thing that I am always on the hunt for, it is a recipe that is quick, delicious, and simple to make. The Dinner Plan is a well-organized, eye-catching book that has some fantastic suggestions to get a healthy dinner ready no matter what your day has in store. The ideas take into account all sorts of different lifestyles, but they are most definitely geared towards family meals.

What sets The Dinner Plan apart from other time-saving cookbooks isn’t really the actual recipes. In fact, it is in the way the recipes are categorized as to whether it is a make-ahead, staggered, one-dish, pantry, or extra-fast. Knowing what type of ingredients are needed and the time commitment needed to prepare certain dishes takes the guess-work out of where to start. There are also tips included in the book that include what sorts of ingredients and equipment to buy.

If you have a family that eats at different points of the evening, you will most likely find a dish that will satisfy the needs of your family. Making a meal that can be served at any point of the day, or easily reheated makes some of these recipes really unique. For instance, the Kitchen Sink Burritos that I prepared can be made fairly quickly and then the fixings can be set out for anyone to put together at their own leisure. This recipe is also a much lighter and cheaper version than the ones you can purchase at a local burrito bar, as there are no added preservatives.

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The Dinner Plan is an interesting take on how to serve dinner to your family when life just seems to get in the way. If you are on the hunt for suggestions on how to eat healthy meals for a busy lifestyle, this may be the book for you. It will give you a new perspective on how to make meals without the stress over the time commitment involved.

ARC Review: You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

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I received an ARC of this book from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.

Title: You Bring the Distant Near
Author: Mitali Perkins
Publisher: September 12, 2017
Publication Date: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Stars: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Five girls. Three generations. One great American love story. You Bring the Distant Near explores sisterhood, first loves, friendship, and the inheritance of culture–for better or worse. Ranee, worried that her children are losing their Indian culture; Sonia, wrapped up in a forbidden biracial love affair; Tara, seeking the limelight to hide her true self; Shanti, desperately trying to make peace in the family; Anna, fighting to preserve Bengal tigers and her Bengali identity– award-winning author Mitali Perkins weaves together a sweeping story of five women at once intimately relatable and yet entirely new.

Goodreads | Amazon

When a book grabs hold of you and keeps you engaged right up to the end, it is safe to say that it is going to be a favourite. You Bring the Distant Near is a beautifully written saga that tells the story of the Das family and their experiences immigrating to the United States. Told in alternating perspectives, Perkins gives her readers so many unique and interesting points of view through her well-developed female characters. The Indian customs and culture that are told throughout this story are so insightful and add to the magic of the narrative.

Having never read any of Perkins’ novels before, I was so thrilled to read the delightful You Bring the Distant Near. The writing is absolutely breathtaking and the descriptions of the various settings are vividly told. Most of the story takes place in the United States, which has a setting that is relatable to some. However, when the story shifts to India, it is as if you are transported along with the characters, as they are reacquainted with their old ways of life.

It is hard to choose which of the five Das females is the one that I enjoyed learning about the most. Each of these ladies have such different personalities, that as the events unfold, you really get a taste for the different perspective each one brings. Ranee, the grandmother, is the character that definitely surprised me the most. She is so head strong and stubborn in her desire to ensure that her daughters maintain their Indian culture as much as possible. Ranee is the one that definitely goes through a significant transformation and is such a fun character to read about.

The one thing that gives You Bring the Distant Near its unique flavour is the way Perkins has added bits of Indian life into the book. The Indian phrases and pronouns that the family uses are seamlessly included in the story. They are explained in a way that helps readers unfamiliar with certain words to understand their meaning without distracting from the narrative. Food plays a large role in the book, and you will be salivating for a taste of Ranee’s infamous chicken by the end of the story. Even the clothing that is so important to all of the females in the book, adds a feeling of culture and personality to the story. Also, the music that plays a large part of maintaining the family’s heritage almost seems to play in the background as you are reading.

If you are looking for a diverse read, You Bring the Distant Near is the one that should be at the top of your list this fall. The writing is gorgeous and the characters are so relatable and interesting. All of the Indian culture that is sprinkled into this book will have you lusting for a taste of the food, clothing and traditions yourself.