All about Books, Book review

Book Review: Gluten-free Baking Made Simple by Cherie Lyden

Today it’s my turn on the blog tour for Gluten-free Baking Made Easy by Cherie Lyden. I was attracted to this because it mentioned both gluten free and simple in the title. Becoming more of a gluten free household is tougher than I ever imagined and more expensive. There are many foods we miss so this seemed a great opportunity to explore some new recipes and hopefully find some we liked.

For me, cookbooks need to be simple. While some people are goddesses or gods in the kitchen I have the food version of the Midas touch. My only hope of appearing on the Great British Bake Off is on the Extra Slice when they show the disasters. With that in mind, here is my review.

Book Review: Gluten-free Baking Made Simple by Cherie Lyden

Gluten free baking made simple by Cherie Lyden. Bright green font over a photo of strawberry flan a large iced cake, tomato flan and cupcakes
Gluten Free Baking made simple by Cheri Lyden

Title: Gluten-free Baking Made Simple

Author: Cheri Lyden

Publisher: Murdoch books

Genre: Cookery, Gluten Free

Release date: 11th May 2023


The new go-to cookbook for gluten-free bakers, filling the void of long unanswered
cravings. Discover beautifully, accessible and simple recipes anyone can achieve at home!

Whether you’re coeliac, gluten intolerant or gluten-free by choice this is the perfect
companion. Enjoy 80-plus sweet and savoury recipes that Cherie has developed and cooked
over the years for her family, as well as at her renowned bakery. Each recipe includes the
tips and know-how that Cherie has mastered to achieve truly remarkable gluten-free results
at home. As well, she shares her best flour blends, pantry essentials and the secret to the
perfect crumb. Packed with mouthwatering bakes such as;

  • Hot-smoked salmon, Asparagus, Pea and Leek Quiche
  • Cinnamon Pull-Apart Scrolls
  • Roast Pumpkin, Parmesan and Thyme Scones
  • Pear and Hazelnut Chocolate Frangipane Tart
  • Baked Cheesecake with Honey Syrup and Gingerbread Crust
  • Raspberry, White Chocolate and Coconut Muffins
  • Decadent Dark Chocolate Brownies
    If you’re ready to give gluten-free baking a go, make it easy with these simply beautiful and
    approachable recipes where everything not only looks delicious but tastes delicious, too!

My Thoughts

Before I comment on the recipes and contents of this cookery book, I must commend the designer. With vibrant green sprayed edges it calls out to be lifted off a bookshelf, be opened and used.

My copy of Gluten free baking made simple with many post it notes marking recipes to try
Many bookmarked pages

When you browse a cookery book and the post-it notes come out to flag which recipes make your mouth water you know its one that will be used and experimented with. There were many more bookmarked than the markers in the photo show but these were the ones we thought we’d try first.

Not only were the recipes gluten free but they also showed dairy alternatives. This a huge tick from us as dairy intolerance is also a factor in our cooking now. The content and format is attractive and easy to read. With gluten free baking I’ve discovered there are more ingredients involved and steps but these are explained well. We decided to try the blueberry muffins, chocolate chunk cookies and buttermilk pancakes.

First of the muffins. The blueberry, apple and lemon muffins which looked so lovely in the book didn’t go to plan but that was on me. The recipe was simple to follow but I didn’t have enough apples -eek but continued anyway, and my blueberries defrosted so the mix became a not so attractive purple. There was a note of warning that this could happen but as I said I have that dreaded disaster cook gene. While mine didn’t rise and weren’t photogenic they tasted lovely. Much better than those we’ve sourced from the supermarkets so despite their appearance they were a win.

We will attempt them again with the correct weight of ingredients and with more concentration on the instructions. And nope the photos I took will not be shared.

There are many other muffin recipes to tempt and I really want to try the raspberry, white chocolate and coconut muffins once I’ve sourced shredded or coconut flakes.

Many muffins
Lots of muffins to try

Next was the chocolate chunk cookies. These were easier to make and a huge success in taste and appearance. Mine looked like cookies! These will be made again but will double the recipe so the dough can be frozen for go to treats. There are also options to vary the recipe with different chocolate and a double chocolate variety which sounds perfect.

Encouraged by the cookie success, next were the buttermilk pancakes, something I miss since the diet change. With clear instructions, this was also an easy recipe to whizz up. Without a photo in the book to show us what they were supposed to look like, we knew the first two out of the pan weren’t up to scratch but once my daughter took over the cooking more taste success happened. They weren’t as thick as expected but with practise and me out of the equation, I think they’d work.

Using light olive oil in the pan rather than butter seemed to have better results and tasted lovely especially with lemon curd.

With the ability to prepare the batter the night before these are a good option for breakfast. These will be eaten again

On our wish list to try Raspberry and Coconut slice

Would I recommend?

Yes! One thing I’ve learnt in our gluten free journey is nice food is hard to find but these are tasty and tempting. The book’s clear presentation and comprehensive instructions with tantalising ‘eat me’ photos and recipes encourage you to browse and experiment. There are so many recipes to choose from and the notes on the ingredients in the beginning were enlightening to a newbie who assumed chia seeds were decoration not a vital part of gluten free baking.

This book is a welcome addition to the bookshelf and will be used rather than gather dust so it’s a win.

Author Biography

Photo of Cheri Lyden White woman with dark wavy bobbed hair dressed in a white shirt. Sitting behind a table of cakes
Cheri Lyden

Cherie Lyden is the owner and founder of Wholegreen Bakery. Cherie opened Wholegreen in 2014 after she
and her youngest daughter were diagnosed with coeliac disease. She is a qualified nutritionist, innovator, serial entrepreneur, and writer in the space. Her greatest joy is finding ways to create deliciousness without the magic elasticity of gluten, and watching people with food intolerances discover a wonderful world of baked goods that they believed was closed to them.

Thank you Random Things Tours for the opportunity to read and try this book so I could give my honest review.


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All about Books, Book review

Book review: Dark Mode by Ashley Kalagian Blunt

Today, I’m thrilled to review Dark Mode by Ashley Kalagian Blunt. With it’s dark blurb, it was a departure from my run of supernatural and romance books but knowing it was inspired by true crimes was intriguing.

Book review: Dark Mode by Ashley Kaliagan Blunt

Dark Mode by Ashley Kalagan Blunt

Title: Dark Mode

Author: Ashley Kalgan Blunt

Publisher: Ultimo Press

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Release date: 13th April 2023


Is it paranoia – or is someone watching?

Reagan Carsen knows how to keep herself safe – keep the door bolted, stay off the internet and never, ever talk to the police. But when a serial killer starts targeting women who look exactly like her, Reagan is forced to confront the dark events in her past.
Inspired by true crimes, such as the Black Dahlia murder, Dark Mode reimagines them for the modern age, weaving the insidious nature of living in an online world into the crimes to create a creeping, suffocating sense of terror for readers.
Fascinated by the psychology behind crime – who commits them, how they’re investigated and what they tell us about society – Ashley was compelled to write a thriller that explores this in detail. Through her research, Ashley delved into the dark web and discovered how terrifyingly easy it is for our personal information to
be discovered and used against us. Combining this with the growing subculture of incels and men’s right activists on the web, Ashley has created a modern thriller that speaks to how deeply the lines
between the online world and reality have blurred.
Set over a sweltering summer, Dark Mode is a fresh, riveting thriller that highlights the price we pay for surrending our privacy one click at a time.
After all, once you’re online there’s nowhere to hide …

My Thoughts

This is the second book I’ve read this month set in Australia but had a completely different vibe to Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens but just as eye-opening. Thrown straight into the plot, with the discovery of a mutilated body, the tension only increased to terrifying heights.

Reagan was a likable, over cautious and secretive character. I adored her business, Voodoo Lily, which was a garden centre specialising in carnivorous and unusual plants and loved how the names and descriptions of the plants were dropped casually in throughout the book. Her life was anything but ordinary. As her complex past was revealed and collided with the present with a serial killer on the loose, the novel delved deep into the dark side of the internet. It was terrifying and days later, I’m still sleeping with the light on after reading the climatic conclusion.

It’s not the first novel, I’ve read recently dealing with similar themes but it was an unnerving, powerful read about obsession, stalking and extreme misogyny which has left its mark. I doubt I will trust people I meet online ever again.

Author Biography

Photo of Ashley Kalagan Blunt. White middle age woman, Shoulder length brown choppy hair wearing black leather jacket
Ashley Kalagan Blunt

Ashley Kalagian Blunt is the author of How to Be Australian and My Name Is Revenge. Her writing appears in the Sydney Morning Herald, Overland, Griffith Review, Sydney Review of Books, Australian Book Review, Kill Your Darlings and more. Ashley teaches creative writing and co-hosts James and Ashley Stay at Home, a podcast about writing, creativity and health. Originally from Canada, she has lived and worked in South Korea, Peru and Mexico.

Thank you Random Things Tours for the blog invite and advanced copy of this book to so I could give an honest and unbiased review.

Happy reading!


All about Books, Book review

Book Review: Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens by Shankari Chandran

Today I’m excited to share my review for Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens by Shankari Chandran. My love of tea drew me to the title and the beautiful cover made me want to read the story within. Scroll down to see if my high expectations were met.

Book Review: Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens by Shankari Chandran

Book cover for Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens by Shankari Chandran.
Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens by Shankari Chandran

Title: Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens

Author: Shankari Chandran

Publisher: Ultimo Press

Genre: Literary fiction, history

Release date: 2nd March 2023


Welcome to Cinnamon Gardens, a home for those who are lost and the stories they

Cinnamon Gardens Nursing Home is nestled in the quiet suburb of Westgrove, Sydney – populated with residents with colourful histories, each with their own secrets, triumphs and failings. This is their safe place, an oasis of familiar delights – a beautiful garden, a busy kitchen and a bountiful recreation schedule.

But this ordinary neighbourhood is not without its prejudices. The serenity of Cinnamon Gardens is threatened by malignant forces more interested in what makes this refuge different rather than embracing the calm companionship that makes this place home to so many. As those who challenge the residents’ existence make their stand against the nursing home with devastating consequences, our characters are forced to reckon with a country divided.

Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens is about family and memory, community and race, but is ultimately a love letter to storytelling and how our stories shape who we are.

My Thoughts

The story behind the cover was a complete surprise but the beautifully written narrative and character driven plot captured me and I couldn’t put in down. I expected a cosy uplifting tale but while Maya the original owner of Cinnamon Gardens, a home for the elderly worked hard to create a safe place for all, this novel was an in depth study of generational relationships, loyalty, racism, past trauma and the entwined lives of the residents.

I loved the ethos of Cinnamon Gardens and the characters living there. The efforts and attention to detail to make the care home welcoming to everyone whatever their race, religion and background was inspiring and wished it existed in reality. Hopping from the present to the past, their often heart-breaking and traumatic backstories were revealed making me relate to them more and become immersed in their wellbeing when current events took a darker turn.

I knew nothing of the recent history of Sri Lanka and how the Tamils were treated so the stories of some residents and the reasons for their migration to Australia were eye opening. I felt guilty for being so oblivious to recent history. Racism and the demonisation immigration are currently rife in the media, so the storyline covering these and its dreadful consequences hit home. While set in Australia, the events could easily have happened in the UK and America. It highlights how what is seen as small acts by the perpetrators and enabling society can snowball when unchallenged and the damage it causes to those involved.

This unexpected, powerful and emotional novel, full of strong and memorable characters whose wisdom leaps of the page is one to read and reflect on. With its uncomfortable but important multi-layered plot there is much to be discussed and would make make an ideal book club read. It’s one of my favourite reads so far this year.

Author Biography

Black and white photo of Shankari Chandran. Dark shoulder length hair, glasses and big smile

Shankari Chandran was raised in Canberra, Australia. She spent a decade in London, working as a lawyer in the social justice field. She eventually returned home to Australia, where she now lives with her husband, four children and their cavoodle puppy, Benji. In January 2017, she published her first book with Perera-Hussein, called Song of the Sun God. Her second book, The Barrier, was published in June 2017.

Thank you Random Things Tours for the blog invite and advanced copy of this book to so I could give an honest and unbiased review.

Happy reading!


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Book review, Writing journey, Writing process

Book Review: Awakening the Power of Self-Publishing by Rudo Muchoko

After finishing one manuscript ready for submission and nearly completing another, the idea of self publishing is never far away. With the benefits of more control, freedom in the exploration of ideas and flexibility in deadlines (a biggie for this disabled writer) it is tempting so when Random Things Tours offered me a place on the blog tour for Rudo Muchoko’s Awakening the Power of Self-publishing, I jumped at the chance.

Scroll down to see my honest and unbiased opinion

Book Review: Awakening the Power of Self-Publishing by Rudo Muchoko

Awakening the Power: Self publishing the ultimate guide by Rudo Muchoko

Title: Awakening the Power of Self-Publishing

Author: Rudo Muchoko

Publisher: RMP Blueprint

Release date: 2nd March 2023

Purchase link:


‘Awakening the Power of Self-Publishing’ by ‘Rudo Muchoko’

Having worked in the publishing industry, it is fascinating how, once a book has been created and placed on Amazon, self-published authors tend to relax since, in some strange way, Amazon is meant to sell the book. It seems there is no clear guidance for self-published authors on what to do following the publication of their work. Although publishing your book on Amazon is a significant accomplishment, did you know that there are a tonne of other things you can do with it after that?  Herein is the value of Awakening The Power of Self Publishing.

In this guide, you’ll discover: The importance of building an author brand and establishing author credibility, The differences between traditional publishing methods and self-publishing, The advantages of getting book reviews, Establishing and maintaining meaningful publishing relationships, Maximising your online presence, Creating a successful book marketing strategy, Keeping your book relevant and profitable after it has been published! Although the book publishing process can be complex, you can effectively develop your author brand if you are persistent, have a good work ethic, and are dedicated.

My Thoughts

A small, pocket size book which delivers a punch of information. A nice overview guide of what’s needed for self-publishing which could form a useful platform to build knowledge from. It’s such a big topic, making it impossible to tell all in few pages but the information is clear, accessible and helps prepares you for the long term journey of being an author.

Author Biography

Photo of Rudo Muchoko a smiling Black woman with many plaited hair. Wearing a white tropical printed jacket.
Rudo Muchoko

As a creative, publisher, and author, Rudo Muchoko has become a passionate supporter of publishing works. She writes, edits, publishes and sells books, magazines, and audiobooks with the aim to lead and mentor authors using the suggestions in her book Awakening the Power of Self Publishing: the ultimate Guide. Based in Birmingham UK, Rudo is also a Guest Blogger for The Book Network and an Executive Contributor for Brainz Magazine.

Instagram: @rwashe_m

All about Books, Book review

Book Review: Maid of Steel by Kate Baker

I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for Kate Baker’s debut Maid of Steel. Kate Baker has been instrumental in my writing by introducing me to the RNA which led to me finding my writing tribe. I’ve seen her flourish as a writer and was keen to see how she blended the research she’d shared into the novel she’d been passionately working. Julie Morris aka A Little Book Problem explained things more eloquently than I ever could about reviewing books for friends but from the start I knew Kate’s words immerse me into Emma’s world.

Art deco design, gold edging and sea gulls. Brooklyn bridge and a large ship in the foreground, again art deco illustration.
Maid of Steel by Kate Baker

Title: Maid of Steel

Author: Kate Baker

Publisher: The Book Guild

Genre: Historical fiction, romance

Release date: 28th Feb 2023

Purchase Links

Publisher’s link:

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:



It’s 1911 and, against her mother’s wishes, quiet New Yorker Emma dreams of winning the right to vote. She is sent away by her parents in the hope distance will curb her desire to be involved with the growing suffrage movement and told to spend time learning about where her grandparents came from.

Across the Atlantic – Queenstown, southern Ireland – hotelier Thomas dreams of being loved, even noticed, by his actress wife, Alice. On their wedding day, Alice’s father had assured him that adoration comes with time. It’s been eight years. But Alice has plans of her own and they certainly don’t include the fight for equality or her dull husband.

Emma’s arrival in Ireland leads her to discover family secrets and become involved in the Irish Women’s Suffrage Society in Cork. However, Emma’s path to suffrage was never meant to lead to a forbidden love affair…

My Thoughts

I’m a sucker for a beautiful book cover and this was with it’s art deco design with the shiny gold on the blue grabs the attention. It calls to you to pick it up from the bookshelf and read.

Once inside it’s the words that captured me. Within pages, I was thrown into Emma’s life, her grief for her twin and hatred of injustice. Highly visual, I could easily imagine the initial dramatic scenes unfolding hooking me into the story. From New York to Ireland, this novel’s sense of place is as strong as the women living there. I’ve never been to any of these places, but I was there walking instep with Emma, Alice and Thomas whether it was across Brooklyn Bridge, celebrating the King’s coronation or protesting for women’s rights.

With a forbidden love story, there are characters to love and hate but all well formed and relatable. While both women entangled in the relationship with Thomas are strong and determined to fulfil their dreams, each sees the same person through different lens adding to the dynamic. This is more than a romance, it is a story of self-discovery, finding the past and the future.

The side characters, such as the inspiring Mrs Walsh hold as much intrigue as the protagonists. Moments and personalities from history are blended into fiction effortlessly so I learnt things I never knew about suffrage, Ireland and this important time period without realising which is how I love my historical fiction. It left me feeling great respect for Mrs Walsh, those involved in the suffrage movement and living during the Irish famine when tough decisions had to be made.

All in all, this is a memorable read which reminds me of Lucinda Riley’s the Seven Sisters series with its heart, emotion and accessible historical depth and I can’t wait to read more of Kate’s work in the future.

Author Biography

Kate Baker

Kate Baker wrote terrible holiday diaries as a child, which her husband regularly asks her to read out loud for their entertainment. She has since improved and has written with intent since 2018. Maid of Steel is her second novel; the first is lining drawers in the vegetable rack at their farmhouse.



Do you want to know more about Kate and this novel? Grab a cuppa and pop over to the chat with the witches of Whitby here. They were thrilled to host her and Otis for a while.

Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources for the blog invite and advanced copy of this book to so I could give an honest and unbiased review.

Happy reading!


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