Category: Books

Panic by Lauren Oliver

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I like that Lauren Oliver can write such drastically different books. First, she had Before I Fall, where the main character is forced to relive the last day of her life several times. Then, her popular Delirum series, where love is a disease with a cure. And now…Panic.

Panic has it all. Heartbreak, suspense, high stakes….and tigers?

Panic is a game played by the graduating senior class. The game is simple. Outlast everyone else and winner takes the pot. The game has high stakes and everyone is on edge. Who will win?

Oliver paints a depressingly bleak canvas of the city of Carp, the small town where the novel is set. Heather lives in a trailer park with her younger sister Lily and their neglectful mother. The other main character, Dodge doesn’t have it much better. He lives in a deprecated apartment building with his mother and his now handicapped sister.

The book creates a very tense, uneasy feeling as you read this book, and I felt really sorry for Heather. Things take a terrible turn for her when she is forced to go on the run with her sister. I started to enjoy the book more when she gets a job caring for animals, and develops a relationship with Anne. As the challenges of Panic grow, Heather also grows as a person.

My favourite character is her best friend Bishop. They have an easy relationship that gave the story some relief…up to a point. Nothing is as easy as it seems, and almost everyone has something to hide. This book is intense, and will take you through some unforeseen twists.

It’s worth saying that this is one of the few books by Lauren Oliver that doesn’t involve a dystopian or fantastical element. It’s pure, gritty, reality.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game; he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

Panic by Lauren Oliver
Hardcover, 400 pages
Publisher: Harper Collins
Published: March. 2, 2014

The Can’t Cook Book

I used to work for Chapters Indigo around the time that Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld came out. It had such awesome design, fun recipes and instantly became a bestseller. I was jealous that it was for families with kids- I wanted it!

Now she’s back with a book that I’m pretty sure you or someone you know could use.

howtocook2The Can’t Cook Book is a book that will hold your hand during the terrifying task of cooking. It helpfully guides you though the basics while reassuring you, “Hey. You can do this.”
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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.

October Reads

It’s October! Time to snuggle up with these great reads.

madaboutMad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

Bridget Jones returns! Oddly, she’s still referring to men as boys and she must be in her forties now. Lets see what this brings us. Can’t wait to read!

Bridget Jones—one of the most beloved characters in modern literature (v.g.)—is back! In Helen Fielding’s wildly funny, hotly anticipated new novel, Bridget faces a few rather pressing questions:   

Is it wrong to lie about your age when online dating?
Is it normal to get fewer followers the more you tweet?
Is sleeping with someone after two dates and six weeks of texting the same as getting married after two meetings and six months of letter writing in Jane Austen’s day?

Pondering these and other modern dilemmas, Bridget Jones stumbles through the challenges of loss, single motherhood, tweeting, texting, technology, and rediscovering her sexuality in—Warning! Bad, outdated phrase approaching!—middle age.

 

 

 

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Battle Magic (Oct.1) Tamora Pierce
Yay! I love Tamora Pierce, and really didn’t like her last series. This new book revisits on of my favourite series of hers, Circle of Magic.

On their way to the first Circle temple in Gyongxi, mages Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy pay a visit to the emperor’s summer palace. Although treated like royalty when they first arrive, the mages soon discover that the emperor plans to invade Gyongxi, posing a fatal threat to the home temple of the Living Circle religion

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Week in a Day (Oct. 22) by Rachael Ray
Relax with a tasty meal after a busy day. Enjoy your evenings around the dinner table with your friends and family. Sound too good to be true? Not if you plan your Week in a Day. Rachael Ray’s Week in a Day, the companion book to her hit cooking show of the same name, offers more than two hundred recipes that will help you prepare five nights’ worth of meals in a single day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Butter Baked Goods (Oct 15) Rosie Daykin

I’ve always wanted to visit this bakery. I bet the recipes are awesome.
Butter Baked Goods is a gorgeously illustrated cookbook, packed with delicious recipes perfect for celebrating a special holiday with family and friends, or just everyday life. Inside you’ll find everything from cookies, scones and s’mores to chocolate cake, peanut butter and jelly cupcakes and apple pie . . . not to mention the coveted recipe for Butter’s famous marshmallows!

 

 

 

 

 

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