Happy Show Us Your Books Day! I am running on like 3 hours of sleep this morning, so I’ll skip the lengthy introduction and just get straight to this month’s book reviews!
One Part Plant by Jessica Murnane
I’ve been listening to Jessica’s podcast, One Part Podcast, for over a year – it actually made my post about my 8 favorite podcasts a few months ago! She shared the whole process of writing and publishing this book on a second podcast, “The Cookbook Deal”, which has also been interesting to follow, and definitely got me excited to check out the actual book.
First, this cookbook is gorgeous. I’m *so* thankful that the publisher (Harper Wave) sent me an actual hardcover copy to review rather than just an e-book, because so much thought clearly went into the design that it seems like not enjoying it in print form would be a shame.
But let’s talk food. The philosophy behind One Part Plant is basically what it sounds like – adding one plant-based meal per day into your lifestyle. No crazy diets, no “omg you can never eat the stuff you like again”, just adding in a little something here and there. I love how approachable and flexible that is.
After an introductory section that covers things like suggested ingredients to keep on hand and FAQs about plant based diets, the book is divided into sections of recipes for breakfast, soups and salads, main courses, desserts and snacks/beverages.
I was worried that not many of the recipes would appeal to me, but just flipping through for the first time made me hungry. A few that I can’t wait to try include:
- Almond Cherry Muffins
- Chilaquiles with Cilantro Cream
- Strawberry Chia Jam
- Vinson Petrillo’s Fresh Chickpea Spread with Crispy Black Olives
- Open-faced Falafel Sandwich
I had this glorious vision of trying out a bunch of recipes before it was time to post my review, but you know how life goes. Despite making it through fewer recipes than I’d hoped, this book *has* already had an effect on what I eat in the form of two ingredients: masa harina and nutritional yeast. (I posted about my newfound love of nutritional yeast in a Friday Favs post a couple of weeks ago, but long story short: I add it to everything now.)
The first recipe I tried was Corn Cakes with Black Bean Spread, and I have to admit that after trying out some experiments with the Masa Harina that’s the base for the corn cakes, that was basically all I wanted to eat for like three days. If something was in my kitchen, I probably tried mixing it with masa , and it probably turned out delicious no matter what it was.
Overall, a big thumbs-up for this one. If it can get a non-foodie like me excited about cooking healthy stuff, it clearly has superpowers.
Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
Who doesn’t Anna? I don’t read many celeb memoirs, but this was fun. She’s not trying to be the world’s greatest author, just sharing interesting stories in a very “girl next door” vibe. I didn’t know she did Broadway before getting into film, so that was interesting to read about. I love that she shared that even after Twilight and Up in the Air, she was coming home to her IKEA bed in the stained carpet apartment she shared with several roommates. It’s easy to assume that once someone gets their break, everything changes instantly, so it’s nice to have some light shed on that illusion.
I wanted to do the audiobook version of this, but my library had an insanely long wait list for both the audio and the e-book , so I joined both and went with the one that was available first.
Happy Pretty Messy by Natalie Wise
Oh man, you guys. I almost never have DNF (Did Not Finish) books, but I just could not. The description of the book on Netgalley (who provided the free review copy) sounded great:
“Happy Pretty Messy is a modern-day inspirational guidebook for women of all ages seeking to live with beauty and bravery. As a modern lifestyle philosopher, Natalie Wise brings her trademark poetic prose to finding and cultivating balance, joy, and depth of self in daily life. Filled with wit and fresh insights for the heart and home, you’ll learn how to: Thrive through tragedy, Turn off your inner monologue, Get ‘back to brave'”
Great in theory! But the writing style was something I could not get over.
There’s an episode of the “Mortified” podcast where a guy reads the poem he wrote for his high school English class assignment after attending a poetry summer camp. It sounds exactly how you’d expect a poem written by a teenage boy sure of his poetic greatness to sound, down to lines like “Why praise the trees when they did not arrive there on their own accord?” and “When a moose ceases to be a moose, it begins to be a woman!” (Go listen to episode 6 of Mortified, it’s amazing.) Anyway, the point of this tangent is that there’s a quality to the writer’s style that reminded me of that episode. You can always just tell when an author is trying REALLY HARD to write in an “artsy” style rather than their authentic voice, and it comes off sounding forced and fake and for me in this case, painful to read.
The reviews that are up so far on Amazon and Goodreads are mostly positive, so maybe it’s just that the writing style was a bad fit for me and you will dig it. I wish I could provide more in depth feedback but despite picking this up four separate times to “give it one more try” because I really wanted it to get better, I only finished 12%.
Since I couldn’t finish, the best I can do here is give you guys an excerpt (from the page where I finally 100% gave up) and let you decide if you find the writing style inspiring and poetic or impossible to get through.
I clicked the author’s bio on Goodreads and was surprised to see that she’s written a few other books, including one on organic housekeeping, one about self discipline, and one about DIY gifts in jars. That makes me feel like she’s still trying to find her place in the world, so maybe finding her “voice” goes along with that.
The Goddesses by Swan Huntley
Goodreads * Amazon
This book was totally different from what I expected based on its Netgalley description, the short version of which was, “The Descendants meets Single White Female in this captivating novel about a woman who moves her family to Hawaii, only to find herself wrapped up in a dangerous friendship.” I guess I expected something more thriller-ish?
It definitely started off slowly – I found the main character SO unlikeable for the first few chapters that it made it tough to get through, but eventually I was drawn in. It’s a slow build, but overall I was kind of “meh” by the end. I saw the plot twists coming way ahead of time, never did manage to like the main character, and the climax didn’t feel climactic enough after so much build-up. To borrow a term from Steph, I’d put this in the “passed the time just fine” category.
(This book will be released in July 2017. Complimentary review copy received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)