Tag: book review

The Unidentified Redhead by Alice Clayton

The other day I was browsing in Shoppers Drug Mart when a particular book caught my eye.
I put it down and went on with my day- and when I got home I found it in the mail! Serendipity. (Thanks, Simon & Schuster!)

 

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The Unidentified Redhead by Alice Clayton

Grace Sheridan is back. Ten years after discovering that looks and talent are a dime a dozen in Los Angeles, she’s wriggling into a pair of badass jeans and ready to show the film industry that there’s way more to her than just a head of gorgeous red curls. And Hollywood’s newest Brit super-hunk Jack Hamilton certainly sees a lot to like. Grace is trying to restrain herself from jumping a man who is nearly a decade her junior, but Jack is making it clear that he personally has zero problems with that idea. While Grace and Jack are still swapping innuendo-loaded quips and text sex though, the paparazzi have caught up with them, headlining the “unidentified redhead” who’s been photographed trysting at a restaurant with the heartthrob of the year. Now Grace is in stuck in a double bind. She’s head over heels in lust with Jack, but there’s her own career to think of as well. A sizzling romance with the newest “it” boy may garner her industry attention . . . but is it the kind of attention she’s always dreamed of?

The Unidentified Redhead novel is everything I was in the mood for reading- a fun, flirty (and a little spicy) read.

I really enjoyed the read but found myself wishing it had a little less sex and a little more potential conflict. I saw one or two flags that I thought could escalate into a turning point or maybe a climax (obvious ones aside-ha), but did not. Ultimately, the book breezes along without dealing with anything too serious. This was a fast, enjoyable read- perfect for the beach or a plane ride. Buy it here!

 

Make This: Honey Cake with Caramelized Apples from the Martha Stewart Cake Book

Every so often, Martha Stewart complies these awesome themed recipe books. The last one she released was Cupcakes, a couple of years ago.

 

This year, she’s back with Martha Stewart Cakes. This book is filled with over 150 recipes of every cake you ever dreamed of, thought of, and didn’t even know was real.

The recipes range in difficulty, and there’s something for everyone. Spice cakes, bundt cakes, birthday cakes, cheesecakes, ice cream cakes, pound cakes…they’re all here. Along with the recipes, there are some tried and tested tips and basic recipes for frosting and icing.

I was inspired to bake a cake from this book! I decided to make the Honey Cake with Caramelized Pears because it sounded delicious and had few ingredients. There is no butter in this cake! Of course, I didn’t have pears. So I used apples!

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Honey Cake with Caramelized Apples

You need

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons best-quality honey (I used honey from the Kingsbrae Garden)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

 

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 10-inch springform pan. Dust with flour; tap out excess. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl; set aside. Mix eggs and sugars on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until pale and thick, about 3 minutes.
  2. Whisk together honey, milk, oil, and zest. With mixer on low, add honey mixture to egg mixture; mix until combined, about 1 minute. Add half the flour mixture; mix until smooth. Mix in remaining flour mixture. Pour batter into pan.
  3. Bake until dark golden brown and a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around edge of cake; carefully remove sides of pan.Transfer cake to a platter. Now it’s time to make the topping!
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 3/4 pounds of apples, cut into thin wedges
  • 1/4 cup best-quality honey

Caramelized Apples

1. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sugar; cook, stirring, until almost dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes. Add apples; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and just golden, 12 to 20 minutes. Pour in honey; cook, stirring, until apples are coated and very soft, 3 to 5 minutes. If you leave this on too long, the caramel will become very thick and unruly, so beware! Top the cake with this mixture immediately, and serve.

This cake was so easy and delicious! My family was impressed with my mad caramelizing skill.

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Find out more about the Martha Stewart Cake book or read about the day I met her!

Butter Baked Goods: Nostalgic Recipes From a Little Neighborhood Bakery

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I still regret not being able to visit Butter Baked Goods while I was in Vancouver. Luckily, this book has acted as a delicious, delicious band-aid.

I think that Butter Baked Goods: Nostalgic Recipes From a Little Neighborhood Bakery is my favourite bakery cookbook of the year!

Rosie shares her recipies for her homemade marshmallows, “cinny buns”, loaves, cookies, cakes, frostings and more. Being able to recreate these recipes is the next best thing to hopping a plane to visit her shop.

The book is broken down into handy sections such as  Cakes, Cupcakes and Whoopie Pies, Pastry, Pies and Tarts and more. One of my favourites sections is Confections. Confections and it includes peanut butter balls, Butter’s famous marshmallows, and my favourite- homemade s’mores.

Not only is it gorgeously designed, but the recipes are enticing, simple and easy to make. The photos make you want to get your hands dirty immediately. So I did. The first recipe that I made from this book was the Vanilla Shortbread cookies. They were delicious, and super quick to make. They’ve become my instant bake sale go to cookie.

See for yourself! Try out the Smartie Pants Bar.

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Butter Baked Goods is written by Rosie Daykin and was released on October 15th by Random House.

Omens: Cainsville #1 Review

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I love Kelley Armstrong. I remember being daunted by the location of her novels in the bookstore (Horror). However, once I picked up her Otherworld series, I couldn’t put them down. Thirteen books later and the series is over. (I miss Clay so, so much.) I was very excited to see that she had a new book coming out, and incredibly excited when I was able to get my hands on an early copy. (Thanks, Random House!)

Olivia Taylor Jones, 24, seems to have the perfect life. The only daughter of a wealthy Chicago family, she has an Ivy League education, pursues volunteerism and philanthropy, and is engaged to a handsome young tech-firm CEO with political ambitions. But Olivia”s world is shattered when she finds out that she”s adopted. Her real parents? Todd and Pamela Larsen, notorious serial killers, each still serving a life sentence.

The news brings a maelstrom of unwanted publicity to her adopted family and fiancé, and Olivia thinks the best thing she can do for herself and for them is run away from it all. She ends up in the small town of Cainsville, Illinois, an old and cloistered community that takes a particular interest in both Olivia and her decision to uncover the truth about her birth parents. Olivia decides to focus on the Larsens” last crime, the one Pamela Larsen swears will prove their innocence. But as she and Gabriel Walsh, Pamela”s former lawyer, start investigating, Olivia finds herself drawing on abilities that have remained hidden since her childhood, gifts that make her both a valuable addition to Cainsville and deeply vulnerable to unknown enemies. There are dark secrets behind her new home, and powers lurking in the shadows that have their own plans for her.

Olivia and Gabriel work together to try to discover the truth of the Lawson murders. As they unravel various leads, there is a bit of otherworldness in the story, but not enough. In particular, Oliva’s interesting gift to notice and perhaps read omens. I really liked finding out about new superstitions that I’d never heard of. I also enjoyed the aspect of the Cainsville town elders. I loved their interactions with Olivia, and it’ll be fun to see how the relationships develop as the series goes along.

The entire book had a bit of an eerie feel to it, I wasn’t ever truly relaxed while reading it. I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t really like Olivia. I think I was looking for a bit of Savannah (previous series) in her character, but never found it. Gabriel is a bit more interesting, but I don’t exactly love him either. I don’t typically read straight mystery, and that’s what this book felt like. Will I continue reading this series? Probably. By time the next book is published, I’m sure I’ll be starved for a dose of Armstrong. However, I don’t think it’ll capture my heart quite like the Otherworld Series.

Published: Aug 20, 2013 by Random House Canada
ISBN: 9780307360526
Price: $29.95
Chapters-Indigo

Toronto Star Cookbook

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If you love Toronto, you’re going to love the Toronto Star Cookbook. “Saucy Lady” Jennifer Bain has complied a beautiful cookbook filled with over 150 recipes from across Ontario.

Just like Ontario, it’s chock full of recipes from different ethnicities and cultures. Recipes for Jamaican oxtail,  BiBimbap and beef koftas can be found among classics like caprese salad, buttermilk scones or pasta with tomato basil sauce.

The best thing about this cookbook is that it teaches you how to make popular dishes from some famed Toronto restaurants and shops. Learn how to make the Harbod Room’s Cornbread, Mary MacLeod‘s Brown-Sugar Shortbread and other Toronto foodie favourites!

The recipes are easy to follow and have full colour photos. I made Garlic Basil Smashed Potatoes!

The Toronto Star Cookbook is a family-friendly cookbook filled with recipes for classic comfort food like rice pudding two ways (diner-style and upscale) apple crisp (made with three varieties of apple) and grilled cheese (updated with smoked cheese and sriracha ketchup), and classic Ontario dishes (True North Flatbread, My Mom’s Pan-Fried Pickerel and The Hogtown Sandwich). In reflection of Toronto’s multicultuarl food scene, it includes dishes from more than two dozen cultures, including Chinese noodles, Indian dosas, Korean rice bowls, Mexican soup, Lebanese dips, Ethiopian beans and Vietnamese sub.

The Kissing List

kissing list

The Kissing List by Stephanie Reents is an intellectual read following a group of women from Oxford. We follow these women in a series of short stories about their first jobs, infidelity, summer vacations, relationship and more. It’s an interesting read and a bit more literary than I thought it would be. If you would like to read about love, but avoid chick lit, this is a good book for you. These 12 stories explore the nuances of relationships and friendship.

The interlocking stories in The Kissing List feature an unforgettable group of young women – Sylvie, Anna, Frances, Maureen – as their lives connect, first during a year abroad at Oxford, then later as they move to New York on the cusp of adulthood. We follow each of them as they navigate the treachery of first dates, temp jobs and roommates, failed relationships and unexpected affairs – all the things that make their lives seem full of possibility, but also rife with potential disappointment.

Shot through with laugh-out-loud lines, yet still wrenchingly emotional and resonant, The Kissing List is a book about women who bravely defy expectations and take outrageous chances in the face of a life that might turn out to be anything less than extraordinary.

The Kissing List by Stephanie Reents. 223 pages.

Born Weird by Andrew Kaufman

I’ve been excitedly awaiting Andrew Kaufman’s next book since forever. Andrew Kaufman is a fabulous writer and he seems to be pretty nice to boot. His most popular book is, All my Friends are Superheroes, and if you haven’t read it you really should. I suppose Andrew’s books could be defined as magical realism. They are always original, unexpected and set in Canada (I love that.)

Annie Weird was born with an unusually large heart. As each of her grandchildren came into the world, she unintentionally gave them each a gift. Richard is always safe, Angie instantly forgives, Abba always has hope, Lucy never gets lost and Kent is always a little bit stronger than his opponents. These gifts turn out to be more curse than blessing. Can you fall in love while keeping safe? How can you find yourself when you always know where you are?

Angie is summoned by her grandmother Annie. Annie informs Angie that she and her siblings have all been “blessed” and that in order to remove the blessings, she needs to gather all of her brothers and sisters so that the curse can be removed at the moment of her death (yeah, she knows that date. Down to the minute.)

Angie is sent scrambling to gather her siblings. Her hunt will take her to Toronto, Vancouver and even to a remote island. Her siblings are busy having sex in forbidden places, trying to figure out marriage and possibly even being Queen. And Kent? Well, everyone is a little scared of Kent. (He actually turned out to be my favourite.) This journey will change them forever, but will it be for better or for worse?

Born Weird is out on December 26th. Pick it up! You won’t regret it.

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