Tag: random house

[Review] At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen


I received an ARC of Sara Gruen’s “At the Water’s Edge”. Having read and liked one of her previous novels (“Water for Elephants”) I was looking forward to reading this novel, and I was not disappointed. “At the Water’s Edge” is a great story about a trio; Maddie, her husband Ellis, and their friend Hank, who go hunting for the Loch Ness monster during WWII in an attempt to redeem themselves to their disapproving families. Neither man was able to serve in the war, a point that has not gone unnoticed by society in a time when everyone is expected to do what they can. After a harrowing boat ride to Scotland, they land only to find that their problems have followed them. Things come to a head after attempts to find the monster don’t go as planned and Maddie begins to worry that things are not what they seem. (more…)

[ Review ] The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

girl on the train

“The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins was a good read. Although it’s being compared to another book at the moment (ahem – Gone Girl), I thought that this one was unique. The story is told from the perspective of 3 different women; one alcoholic ex-wife, one currently married woman, and one victim. The timeline jumps around a bit because the victim has to tell her side of the story at the same time the other two are trying to move forward in their lives, so there were a few times I had to go back and look to see what time I was supposed to be in. The characters were complex and not all likable. (more…)

Listen to the Squawking Chicken by Elaine Lui [Review]


Listen to the Squawking Chicken had me Googling the meaning of moles on my face and calling girls “low classy” under my breath.

I don’t read very much biography, but I loved this book. I also don’t know much about Lainey Gossip (my sister saw me reading this book and filled me in) so I was able to read this book without a preconceived notion of who Elaine is.

I devoured the Squawking Chicken over Chinese New Year weekend in equal parts delight, horror and fascination.

Delight, because parts of Elaine’s coming of age story is very funny. Bra shopping with her mother, making friends, bringing home new boyfriends- hilarious. This book explores the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters. It’s clear that Elaine loves and respects her mother and values her advice above all things.

Horror, because I’m a big wimp. As a rule, I try to avoid horror at all costs. From books, to television to haunted houses at Halloween.

The first chapter, “Never Bring Home an Umbrella from the Street,” terrified me. It’s safe to say that this chapter has ended my habit of picking up interesting things from the street. This chapter is full of folklore from China and superstitious things that happened in the Squawking Chicken’s past.  In fact, this whole book is steeped in superstition and stories.

The Squawking Chicken is a devout believer in Feng Shui. When Elaine was younger, she had a mole on her face. Her mother made her remove it because according to Feng Shui someone with a mole in that position would die by age 22 by drowning. Ahh!  (I wish I could tell you that I didn’t research the moles on my face, but I totally did.)

This goes for everything, from the food you eat to buying a house. As Elaine says,

The point is, you just have to believe. That’s it. And if you don’t believe, well, you’ll see. That’s Feng Shui blackmail, the “or else” is always implied. ….The “or else” would hang there, over my head, like an upside-down-jack-in-the-box just waiting to pop out and fuck me up.

Fascination, because the story of the Squawking Chicken is really, really interesting. From her childhood, to her marriage, I remained captivated. The harrowing tale of how she became the squawking chicken will stay with you.

I loved reading about Chinese cultural tidbits. The way money is viewed, certain numbers and traditions were fun to learn about. I related with Elaine’s boe doe, the habit of checking in with her mother. Whatever she’s doing, wherever she’s going, she always checks in with her mother. In this way, I’m like this too.

If you’re a fan of Lainey Gossip, you definitely need to read this book. If you aren’t a fan of Lainey Gossip, by the end of Listen to the Squawking Chicken you are guaranteed to be a fan of Elaine Lui, and her mother too.

Listen to the Squawking Chicken by Elaine Lui
Publisher: Random House
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published: April 1, 2014

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!


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.


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

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