Book Blog: Miss Violet & the Great War by Leanna Renee Hieber

Posted by on Mar 1, 2019 in Blog, book blog | 0 comments

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

Miss Violet & the Great War by Leanna Renee Hieber

out this week; order at Indie Bound, B&N, or Amazon

Miss Violet

I received this book through NetGalley.

Hauntingly hopeful, Miss Violet & the Great War explores the tragedy of the first World War with poetic grace. I found this not to be a book to blaze through in one sitting, but one to savor and appreciate in little bites. That’s not to say it’s a slow read, either. This is a book that felt like immersing myself into a cozily hot bath.

I’ve read one of the related books in Hieber’s world, The Eterna Files, and that was a few years ago now. I jumped into this fourth book in the current series and had no problem following along, and I immediately loved a number of characters. While The Eterna Files seemed to be more of a supernatural mystery to me, Miss Violet & the Great War comes across as more like a spiritual gothic in the very mode of early 20th century novels.

Though the book is about the horrific aspects of war, Hieber’s main focus is on the goodness and creativity of humanity. I’m rather left in awe by the grace of how she handled that. Miss Violet grows up haunted by visions of the War to come throughout her childhood, and prepares herself with intelligence and practicality; so many books are plagued by impulsive protagonists, and it’s refreshing to encounter one with such thoughtfulness and diligence. The latter half of the book is in the War itself, with battles of physical and spiritual natures.

I highly recommend this to readers interested in the Great War and historical fiction with a fantastical bent.

Read More

Bready or Not Original: No Bake Chocolate Almond Oatmeal Bars [Gluten Free]

Posted by on Feb 27, 2019 in Blog, Bready or Not, breakfast, chocolate, gluten-free, healthier, no-bake dessert | 0 comments

I’m here to set you up with a breakfast or snack bar that is delicious and mostly healthy. Plus, these No Bake Chocolate Almond Bars can be tweaked for several dietary needs!

Bready or Not Original: No Bake Chocolate Almond Oatmeal Bars [Gluten Free]

If you need gluten-free, use GF rolled oats. If you need dairy-free, use different chocolate chips. If you have nut allergies… well, you could probably use all-purpose flour and a different nut butter or even Biscoff spread, but I haven’t tested that mod myself.

Bready or Not Original: No Bake Chocolate Almond Oatmeal Bars [Gluten Free]

Though I did test this recipe. A lot. Because it kept coming out tasty, but still a bit off.

Bready or Not Original: No Bake Chocolate Almond Oatmeal Bars [Gluten Free]

The first try, I used milk chocolate chips, which is always my preference in cookies. To my surprise, I found the end result to be too sweet.

Bready or Not Original: No Bake Chocolate Almond Oatmeal Bars [Gluten Free]

The second try, I became quite frustrated when pressing the base layer into the pan. It was a big sticky mess.

Bready or Not Original: No Bake Chocolate Almond Oatmeal Bars [Gluten Free]

Therefore, by the third try, I knew what to do. Use semisweet chips. Chill the oat mixture from the time it is mixed. I also found that these bars were fantastic to freeze; just use waxed paper between the stacked bars.

 

Bready or Not Original: No Bake Chocolate Almond Oatmeal Bars [Gluten Free]

Bready or Not Original: No Bake Chocolate Almond Oatmeal Bars [Gluten Free]

Tweak this recipe to be gluten-free by using GF rolled oats–and it can even be dairy-free by using select chocolate chips! Plan to assemble this recipe over a few hours as you must chill the ingredients between each step. Also, best to avoid milk chocolate this time around, or the bars will be excessively sweet. Use semisweet or dark chocolate instead.

  • Crust
  • 3 cups rolled (old fashioned) oats
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 3 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Filling
  • 3/4 cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup almond butter

In a large bowl, mix together all of the crust ingredients. The mixture should be sticky and clump together. If it's not cohesive, add more almond butter; if it's too wet, add some more oats and/or almond flour. Chill bowl in fridge for an least an hour.

Line an 8x8 or 9x9-inch pan with aluminum foil and apply nonstick spray.

Press half of the crust mix evenly into the bottom of the pan. A piece of waxed paper or parchment and a heavy glass make it easier to compress as much as possible. Place pan and bowl in fridge for another 30 minutes.

In the microwave or in a pan on the stovetop, melt together the chocolate chips and remaining almond butter. When they become creamy and smooth, remove from heat. Pour the chocolate to completely cover the oat layer. Chill for another hour.

Dollop the remaining oat mixture atop the hardened chocolate. Again, compress contents into pan as much as possible. Chill another 30 minutes.

Use the foil to lift contents onto a cutting board. Slice. Keep bars for up to 3 weeks in the fridge, in a sealed container with waxed paper between the layers, or freeze for up to a month.

OM NOM NOM!

Read More

Book Blog: Mahimata (Asiana #2) by Rati Mehrotra

Posted by on Feb 22, 2019 in Blog, book blog | 0 comments

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

Mahimata by Rati Mehrotra

order at IndieBound, Amazon, or B&N

Mahimata is the second book in a duology and will be released on March 5th. I had both books supplied to me gratis by the publisher (also my publisher) and loved both. If you haven’t read the first book, seriously, get it NOW and preorder the second book.

This is what I said about book one:
Markswoman is a breathlessly-paced post-apocalyptic fantasy with a highly original setting and characters you can’t help but love (and hate).” To add to that: Post-apocalyptic magical knife-wielding female assassins FTW.

Rati Mehrotra’s Asiana duology comes to a fantastic conclusion in Mahimata. In this Asian-inspired fantasy settings with unique sci-fi twists, Kyra is a highly-trained assassin telekinetically bound with her blade. Her world has erupted in war. Her sect has fought against local wyr-wolves for centuries, but now a greater–human–threat has emerged and threatens to take over Asiana. In the turbulence of the first book, Kyra met and fell for Rustan, of a rival sect–and also almost died. As Mahimata begins, she struggles to recover physically and reconcile herself with what she has learned about her sect, her power, and her world.

The action is intense and well-grounded in genuine emotions. I especially love how the wyr-wolves developed. This is a book all about maturity and growth for both Kyra and Rustan as they fight to save their people at great cost. I’m sorry to see the series end, but this conclusion truly hits all the right notes.

Read More

Bready or Not: Oat and Toffee Grahams

Posted by on Feb 20, 2019 in Blog, Bready or Not, chocolate, cookies | 0 comments

These Oat and Toffee Grahams are a delicious, unique kind of fast-fix homemade candy bar.

Bready or Not: Oat and Toffee Grahams

The base consists of graham crackers. (I know, what a shock considering the name of the recipe.)

Bready or Not: Oat and Toffee Grahams

On top of that you mix up a homemade filling with oats, butter, sugar, and a few other things, and it bakes up into a kind of toffee layer.

Bready or Not: Oat and Toffee Grahams

Then you add the chocolate chips on top–bake it a minute, long enough to melt the chips–even out the layer and add some almonds. Ta-da!

Bready or Not: Oat and Toffee Grahams

I expected the end result to be crunchy. To my surprise, the crackers actually softened in the baking process. The end result was delightfully chewy.

Bready or Not: Oat and Toffee Grahams

These are sweet, sublime, and chewy, with crunchiness only from the almonds. They are just a great combination of flavors and textures.

Bready or Not: Oat and Toffee Grahams

Modified from Brownies & Bars Magazine.

 

Bready or Not: Oat and Toffee Grahams

Bready or Not: Oat and Toffee Grahams

This recipe uses graham crackers as a shortcut base for a sheet pan of homemade candy bars! The end result is chocolaty, sweet, and surprisingly chewy.

  • 12 graham cracker rectangles
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled (old fashioned) oats
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12-ounce bag semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
  • 1/2 sliced or chopped almonds

Preheat oven at 350-degrees. Line a 15x10x1-inch baking pan with foil and apply nonstick spray. Arrange graham crackers in a single layer side by side. They will not cover the entire surface of the pan.

In a large bowl, stir together the oats, white sugar, brown sugar, and flour. Stir in the melted butter, egg, and vanilla until just mixed. Spoon the oat mixture atop the graham crackers, covering them completely.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until top is bubbly. Sprinkle all of the chocolate on top. Bake for another minute. Use an uneven spatula to smooth the softened chocolate to cover the graham crackers. Sprinkle on the almonds.

Cool in pan. If slow to set, place in fridge until firm. Use a knife or--recommended--both hands to break the bars into pieces. Store in a sealed container with parchment or waxed paper between the layers.

OM NOM NOM!

Read More