Saturday, January 18, 2020

Past Due Reviews [1]
Truly Healthy Vegan Cookbook: 90 Whole Food
Recipes with Deliciously Simple Ingredients
by Dianne Wenz
Synopsis (via Goodreads): There's vegan, and then there's truly healthy vegan

As you journey toward the impressive gal of a perfect vegan diet, you may find various obstacles in your path. For example, many vegan foods are laded with processed sugars, white flour, and unhealthy fats. The Truly Healthy Vegan Cook
book is for anyone looking to remove these additional, unnatural contents, and enhance their noble, animal-friendly, dietary lifestyle.

Inside you'll find recipes filled with diverse flavor, all within a narrow ingredient checklist. And don't worry - - an occasional comfort-food cheat is human and encouraged. The goal is to get away from using them as a regular part of your daily menu.

AVOID THE PITFALLS -- Steer clear of the 10 most common vegan diet mistakes.

POLICE YOUR PANTRY -- Carefully fill your pantry with the right proteins, fats, and complex carbs, so they are always on hand.

NO FUZZY VEGGIES -- Learn product-freshness timelines with a product storage guide, so you can keep an accurate count of your fresh fridge inventory.

Recipes Include:

Pina Colada Green Smoothie, Spinach and Strawberry Salad, Baked Zucchini Fries, Vegetable Chili, and Crispy Artichoke Tacos.

I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. 

I like to try several recipes from a cookbook before writing a review (it's not feasible to attempt them all), because I feel like it gives me a general idea of the book's contents and the difficulty of its recipes. Truly Healthy Vegan Cookbook is nice to have around for its convenience. It provides a lot of recipes for the simple and frequently used meals in a vegan lifestyle. 

One such recipe: Baked Tofu. We probably use two blocks of tofu every week, and it starts off very bland and unappetizing. An easy way to add flavor and texture to tofu, is by baking it in the oven (always after pressing the tofu first, since you wouldn't want the excess liquid to prevent other flavors from attaching themselves). Squishy tofu = super gross. The Truly Healthy Vegan Cookbook provides a recipe that I've used several times now; one that's easy, efficient, and allows me to have the tofu baking while I do other things.

One of my favorite things to make? Overnight oats. There's a peanut butter recipe that we normally use, and ohmygod so good. I love being able to wake up in the morning and already have breakfast ready, since it drastically decreases the amount of time spent getting everyone out the door for school. This cookbook has a recipe for Blueberry Pie Overnight Oats, and it's delicious. It's also ridiculously easy to make! It's only ingredients are unsweetened nondairy milk, rolled oats, maple syrup, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, fresh blueberries and almonds. Yum!

A recipe I didn't really care for: Carrot Cake Oatmeal. Even the monsters didn't want to eat it, and they'll consume pretty much anything (even if it's not necessarily edible). My husband ate it, but only because he's very against food waste of any kind. I agree with this, but will sometimes share with the dogs if I'm not enjoying a meal (not all new recipes are winners).

I also liked the author's anecdotes at the start of each recipe. She shares something personal about her experience with the food, and why she does or doesn't like it. If it's a food she typically doesn't enjoy (like the mushy texture of oatmeal), she explains how she made it better (for herself at least, because the carrot cake oatmeal was not an improvement on regular oatmeal). Butter, sugar, and walnuts are all you really need for nom-worthy oatmeal in the morning. ๐Ÿ˜‰

There are a lot of recipes that I still want to make from the Truly Healthy Vegan Cookbook, and even have plans to make Baked Zucchini Fries later this afternoon. In the end, I really liked that this cookbook felt more like a conversation, and less like an instruction manual. I would definitely recommend it! (★★★★☆)
Pure (Pure, #1) by Julianna Baggott

Synopsis (via Goodreads): We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . . 

Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . . 

There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it's his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.
When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.


I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

I've had an ARC of Pure on my shelves for years. The book was originally published in 2012, so that means I've had this sitting around and collecting dust for nearly a decade. That's a ridiculous amount of time, but I know some of you can relate. I was never in the mood for this one, but the synopsis was too interesting for me to let it go without reading it first. Lately, I've been using audiobooks as a way to help me get through some of my older stuff, and I've had a lot of success!

I liked the originality of the story, but didn't care for some of the content. People are physically abused, tortured, experimented on, and that's in addition to what the bombs did to people's bodies. They're fused with each other (mothers and children, animals and humans, inanimate objects and whatever was closest to them). It was vividly descriptive, but also unsettling and horrifying. There's also animal abuse, which I've always found hard to stomach even when it's fictional.

The characters were interesting, but not very relatable. Pressia is a child (sixteen, I believe), and she's dealing with issues most adults would find challenging. She's lost people she's cared about, endured unimaginable hardships, and still maintained something as improbable as kindness. She cares about others in a kill-or-be-killed world, and sometimes that faith in people has harmed her more than helped. I do like that there was obvious character development, but wish some of her more childlike tendencies had been expunged.

At times it felt like the author was being cruel and shocking for no reason at all. After a while it starts to lose its effectiveness, and you're just left with something else that makes you cringe, but isn't really all that unexpected anymore. The predictability of the cruelty was not an aspect I liked about this book. It's disturbing qualities are not what initially piqued my interest, but the prospect of a dystopian world that was unlike anything I've read before. I think I got a little more than I bargained for, which made it hard for me to fully lose myself in this story. Additionally, I had to listen to this book in pieces, because sometimes it was just too much.

I thought Pure was wonderfully innovative, but too unsettling for my tastes. (★★★☆☆)
Excalibur #1 by Tini Howard, Marcus To,
Mahmud A. Asrar (Illustrators)
Synopsis (via Goodreads): A NEW DAWN IS FORGED! The Otherworld is rocked by war! It is a new era for mutantkind as a new Captain Britain holds the amulet, fighting for the Kingdom of Avalon with her Excalibur at her side - Rogue, Gambit, Rictor, Jubilee...and Apocalypse.

I'm having a really hard time getting into anything X-Men-related at the moment. It's all about Krakoa (some new island that only allows mutants to pass through its gates), an I just don't care. They're bringing long-dead characters back to life, the island provides everything they could possibly need, and bad guys are suddenly not-so-bad.

Take Apocalypse for example... he's a BAD DUDE. He always had been, and now he's helping out of the goodness of his heart? Does the island change personalities as well? It's too convenient, and not at all believable. Additionally, all of the Betsy Braddock/Psylocke business is beyond confusing. Writers should never assume that new readers will just know what's going on. They need to provide background information, drop hints, etc.

I think the King Arthur angle has been played out, and there's nothing new or original about this series. Saying it had a slow start would be a kindness, since it felt like the story was running in place. I was totally here for Rogue and Gambit (two of my favorites), but it seems like the author has decided to take our beloved couple in a new direction, and one that I'm not on board with. It simply didn't feel authentic. Where are Kelly Thompson and Tom Taylor? They know how to write good X-Men comics. ๐Ÿ˜‰ (★★★☆☆)


  1. We aren't vegan or vegetarian, but I'm intrigued by incorporating those types of recipes at least once in awhile. I like the idea of overnight oats, but I've never liked oatmeal, so I'm a little scared to try it!

    1. I love that you don't have to be vegan/vegetarian to enjoy these recipes! I'm not a huge fan of oatmeal (unless I'm pregnant -- crave it like crazy), but overnight oats are delicious! They don't have the same mushy texture, but something that feels more solid and puddling-like. It's a huge improvement for me. :)

  2. I'm always on the lookout for vegan recipes. I will be checking this book out. ๐Ÿ‘✨

    1. I hope you like it! I try several recipes before deciding whether or not to keep a cookbook, and this one passed with flying colors. :)


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“Stuff and nonsense. Nonsense and stuff and much of a muchness and nonsense all over again. We are all mad here, don't you know?”
― Marissa Meyer, Heartless