Every Heart a Doorway Review + Tortilla Soup Recipe!

What does that title say? Does it say RECIPE?! Yes, yes it does my friends – so without further ado, welcome back to the table! I’m getting back into the swing of things and I plan on bringing ya’ll a lot more Recipe and a Read posts so buckle in folks – it’s gonna be a good time! Today’s review is for Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire! I’m pairing today’s review with a recipe for my very own recipe for Tortilla Soup. This soup is super versatile, healthy, warm, comforting and super easy!

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Initial Thoughts:

narnia
Expectations v. Reality. 

I honestly don’t even know where to begin with this review because this book was both what I expected and nothing like I expected at the same time. Eleanor West’s Home For Wayward Children, is exactly what the name describes and nothing like the name describes. This is a common theme throughout this book. Eleanor West takes in lost, disoriented, troubled children from their parents with a vow to rehabilitate them so they can become functioning members of society. What she doesn’t tell the parents of these troubled children – is that the reason for their newfound affliction is not trauma in a traditional sense but that they’ve “tumbled” into and out of another world. Only to return to this one feeling helpless and like they’ve left the only real home they’ve ever known.

For us, the places we went were home. We didn’t care if they were good or evil or neutral or what. We cared about the fact that for the first time, we didn’t have to pretend to be something we weren’t. We just got to be. That made all the difference in the world.

Nancy Whitman is the newest arrival at Elanor West’s Home For Wayward Children, and with her comes a changing of the tides. Nancy has recently returned from The Land of the Dead and she is desperate to go back. Upon her arrival to the Home For Wayward Children, Nancy meets a whole slew of…well, interesting characters. As Nancy adjusts to her new school and the strange lingo their using Nancy begins to learn that she isn’t the only one who has tumbled. There are those from high Nonsense, or high Logic with a cross field of Wickedness or Virtue. As Nancy adjusts and learns more about the different doorways various children have fallen through a darkness looms over the school and children begin showing up murdered. Not just murdered either – some missing their hands, others their eyes. In a race to figure out who or what is killing of these children and to clear her name, Nancy forms new bonds as they try to solve this dark mystery.

If any of what I just said confused you – well then, we’re in the same boat. For only having 170 pages, this lil’ babe packs a wallop of a fantasy punch. Much of this novella is dedicated to Nancy’s confusion and her learning and figuring out this new strange school as she goes. Since we’re really only given Nancy’s POV, that means that the reader is strung along with her confusion as well. What I really enjoyed in this read is the sheer level of imagination that McGuire was able to pour into such a small number of pages. The thought process that must’ve gone into imagining up all these various worlds the children have tumbled to and from was truly magnificent.

You’re nobody’s rainbow.  You’re nobody’s princess.  You’re nobody’s doorway but your own, and the only one who gets to tell you how your story ends is you.

While we’re only given glimpses of the various worlds what I found most interesting, was the personality traits it imparted on the children who visited them. For example, Nancy went to an underworld where stillness was prized so her default setting is to stand or sit nearly completely still. Colors were reserved only for the Queen of Shadows so she wears only black, white and gray. Other children tumbled into lands of Nonsense and therefor – come out the other side, well, nonsensical. The way these different lands affected different children was inspired.

Their love wanted to fix her, and refused to see that she wasn’t broken.

While I quite enjoyed the imagination at play here, and this was an incredibly unique story, in the end, I don’t think this one was for me. I would’ve loved to have seen more attention given to the world building and more information about the various worlds. Instead, so much space was given to Nancy’s growing bewilderment, and side characters who ended up not being all that important. Past that, I was actually genuinely confused throughout the book because they’re throwing out these words without really defining what they mean within the context of the story.

This world is unforgiving and cruel to those it judges as even the slightest bit outside the norm.

What I will say for Every Heart a Doorway is there was an unexpected diversity here that I’ve not seen in any other book, let alone a YA novel. Nancy is a-sexual, another main character Kade is transgender, Suri is bi-sexual and the list goes on. It was really refreshing to see such representation and done in a way that wasn’t in the least bit sensationalized. Past that McGuire managed to reject traditional YA tropes that end up losing a lot of older readers (ill placed romantic sub-plots, love triangles etc) and instead gave a refreshingly imaginative take on old fairy tales. While this one wasn’t really for me, and I’m not sure yet about picking up the next installment of this series what I can say, is that at it’s heart, this is a story about children feeling alienated and alone. Feeling different and judged and marginalized for those differences and about owning who you are, and learning to be confident in that. I think the message of this story was absolutely lovely and would resonate with lots of readers.

Long Story Short: soso

Suggested For: Fans of YA, fans of the fantasy genre, fans of fairy-tale retellings, those looking for a lot of diversity among characters

◊◊◊

Alright, now that we’ve reviewed our book it’s time for a recipe! This is the combination of making a bunch of various versions of Tortilla soup over and over again and then tweaking it to mine and my husbands taste. This is one I make quite often and we generally don’t use meat in ours but make it a veggie tortilla soup – but those veggies can’t be eaten on Whole30 so I’m not including them today. I personally almost never follow a recipe to the letter and I always try to match things to our palette and make it my own. I love taking the basics of a recipe and changing it up into something new and exciting (for me)! This recipe can me made for nearly any diet: Whole30, Paleo, Vegetarian and Vegan options will be outlined below!

Christina’s Poblano Chicken (or Veggie) Tortilla Soup! 

  • Servings: 4-6 (I always make extra because the left overs are perfect for a quick work lunch!)
  • Pans: 1 – you guessed it, enameled cast iron dutch oven!
  • Prep-Time: 20 minutes (maybe longer depending on your protein choice)
    • This is a great one to semi-meal prep. If you pre-chop your veggies on a Sunday, you can just toss it all in the dutch oven and it’ll make a quick 30 minute work night dinner!
  • Cook time: 20-30 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3-4 carrots, chopped
  • 1-2 poblano peppers, chopped
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 34 ounces chicken stock (or more if you like it soupy-ier)
  • 1 can diced green chilis
  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2-3 cups shredded chicken
  • Optional to garnish with avocado, cheese, cilantro, tortilla strips/chips, sour cream, lime
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As always, I forgot something. Not pictured: olive oil.

Easy edits to make per preference:

  • I use my instant pot to quickly cook up chicken breasts and then shred them – however, you can totally use a store bought rotisserie chicken and that’ll cut down on a lot of time!
  • To make this vegetarian I suggest substituting the chicken with a can of black beans (rinsed and drained) and a can of corn (rinsed and drained – if you’re feeling it), as well as subbing the chicken stock for veggie stock.
  • To make this vegan, simply follow the vegetarian steps and omit any optional garnishes that clash with your diet!
  • If you happen to have bell peppers, or sweet peppers, or any other kind of pepper on hand it’s a great way to use up veggies – so toss them in!

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Once all the veggies have been diced, and the chicken shredded, add 1/2 tablespoon ghee, oil or butter to your pan and add in onions, celery, poblano and carrots.
  2. Saute veggies for 10 minutes until they begin to soften and caramelize (longer if you like more caramelization).
  3. Add in garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally
  4. Add in chicken stock, green chilis and fire roasted tomatoes, bring to a boil.
  5. Add shredded chicken *or protein of choice*.
  6. Reduce heat to simmer, and let simmer uncovered for 15+ minutes. *If you end up running behind, this can easily stay on the stove and be kept warm.*
  7. Serve with garnish of choice and enjoy!
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It’s better with cheese. 

Quote: Dinner was worse. Nancy was sitting across from Jack and Jill when the girl with the brown braids walked up to the table and dumped her soup over Jack’s head. “Oops” she said, flatly. “I slipped” *OK, admittedly not the best quote I’ve ever used but beggars can’t be choosers.*

Music Mood: Bobby Reid by Lucette


Well, there ya’ll have it! Have you read Every Heart a Doorway, if so what did you think? What’re some of your favorite soups to eat when it’s cold out? Drop me a note in the comments and let me know!

24 thoughts on “Every Heart a Doorway Review + Tortilla Soup Recipe!”

  1. While you give us another compelling, fab review, I think I was more interested in your recipe, as I know this kind of book is def not for me. But soup, in winter? Oh man, I copy and pasted this one and will be trying it soon! Hmm … soup!

    Liked by 1 person

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