Category: Books

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
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Make This: Garlic Basil Smashed Potatoes

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The very first recipe that I made from the Toronto Star Cookbook were these Garlic-Basil Smashed Potatoes. Garlic and basil are two of my favourite things, so I was sold!

You’ll need:

1 bag (1-½ lb/680 g) mini potatoes

1 tbsp (15 mL) extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 tsp (5 mL) flaky sea salt

Minced cloves from 1 head garlic (I recommend you use half a head of garlic)

Chopped leaves from 1 bunch fresh basil

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1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a baking dish, toss the potatoes with 1 tbsp of oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast in the oven until the potatoes are tender inside and crispy outside, 45 to 60 minutes.

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2. While the potatoes are cooking, chop up the garlic and basil! Try not to cry. (I love chopping up herbs with my fancy herb chopping knife/cutting board)
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3. Using a fork, gently press each potato just until it pops. I found this hard, and sometimes over pressed. When that’s done, transfer the potatoes to a baking dish along with any leftover oil. Toss with herbs and garlic. Add extra olive oil if needed!

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Voila! Super quick and easy side dish.

I found these potatoes to be delicious, but incredibly garlic-y (and I love garlic). I recommend using only half a head of garlic.

This recipe has been adapted from the Toronto Star Cookbook by Jennifer Bain, and can be found here.

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.

Wedding Night

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I’m always filled with anticipation when I first find out about a new Sophie Kinsella book. The chick lit queen has written many other books, her most famous being Confessions of a Shoppaholic. I quite enjoy her stand alone novels, and usually devour them in less than a day. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Wedding Night!

Lottie is pretty sure that her long term boyfriend, Richard, is going to propose. In fact, she’s so sure that she’s kind of already bought him a ring. It’s only fair. Presumably he’s bought her one as well. Only….he hasn’t. He doesn’t propose. And she is devastated.

Fliss knows her younger sister quite well. When she finds out that Richard has not proposed, and that they broke up, she knows that there can only be one outcome. Lottie is about to have an Unfortunate Incident. Although she claims to be fine, Fliss just knows that Lottie will show her pain in the form of an ill advised tattoo, or possibly join a cult. (Again.)

To make matters worse, Lottie’s ex boyfriend Ben pops back into the picture, reminding her of their “If we’re both still single at 30, let’s get married,” pact. Soon (like, incredibly soon), Lottie & Ben are making plans to get married and honeymoon in Greece.

 Fliss is horrified to hear of this plan and so is Ben’s best friend, Lorcan. Together, they decide to intervene. What follows is a thoroughly entertaining chase.

That’s all I’m going to say about the plot!

Now, before Sophie Kinsella was writing under her pseudonym, she was using her given name, Madeleine Wickham. I’ve read some of her earlier books and I found that they are a little heavier and deal with darker subject matter, such as a little boy drowning while under the care of his mother, etc. They also had more of a family element. Her more recent books are always hilarious and very light.

I feel like this book bridges the gap between both Sophies. This book deals with slightly heavier subjects. One of the main characters is going through a bitter divorce and has a small child. However, this book is still super funny. Lorcan ended up being my favourite character!

Wedding Night will be out on Tuesday April 23rd. If you love Meg Cabot or Sarra Manning, you should pick up this book!

Eat St. Recipes from tastiest, messiest, and most irresistible Food Trucks

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Okay, I’m going to be straight with you. This book is going to make you want to run out of your house and find the nearest food truck. It’s also going to make you want to travel to a food truck hotspot, such as Vancouver or Portland, stat. You’ve been warned.

When I first got this book, I was incredibly excited but also a bit intimated. Would I, a person that is an incredibly picky eater yet also a foodie, (go figure) be able to fall in love with recipes that involved potato chips and pineapple on a hamburger? No need to worry here. This book has recipes for adventurous palates as well as traditional ones. And everything looks so delicious that you’ll want to make everything.

The Eat St. Cookbook features recipes  from the best food trucks that have been on the popular Food TV show and collected by James Cunningham, the host. The food trucks are in Canada and the USA. Handily organized into categories like Mobile Snacks, Ultimate Street Sandwiches, and Sweet Wheels, this book is easy to navigate.

There are 125 mouthwatering recipes. Each recipe has a bit of background info about the food truck, where it’s located and a full page photo.
Some of my favourites include: Drunken Shrimp Tacos (Shrimp Pimp Truck), Late Summer Harvest Salad (The Purple Carrot) and the Italian Lollipop (Mangia Mangia Mangia).

Along with the appendix, there is a food truck directly so that you can hunt these food trucks down. Sounds like a plan!

I’m especially excited because I’ll be going to the West Coast the summer, and will be able to visit some of these tucks first hand! Not taking a trip anytime soon? Visit the Good Food Festival this weekend! James Cunningham, host of Eat St. will be live on stage, and a selection of local food trucks will be there.

Eat St. is available in bookstores and online.

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The Yellow Burger

April Reads

Here are some books I’m looking forward to this month!
aprilbooks1 Appetizers by Canadian Living Editors (April 9)
When you’re hosting a party, you need to create just the right mood — and just the right food. That”s easy when the experts in The Canadian Living Test Kitchen are there to offer their advice and their scrumptious, Tested-Till-Perfect entertaining recipes.

 

 

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The Toronto Star Cookbook, Jennifer Bain (April 2)

This family-friendly cookbook is 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). Note: Spoiler alert, this book is awesome! I already cooked one delicious recipe from it, which I’ll share soon!

 

aprilbooks2Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella (April 23)

Lottie is tired of long-term boyfriends who don’t want to commit to marriage. When her old boyfriend Ben reappears and reminds her of their pact to get married if they were both still single at thirty, she jumps at the chance. There will be no dates and no engagement—just a straight wedding march to the altar! Next comes the honeymoon on the Greek island where they first met. But not everyone is thrilled with Lottie and Ben’s rushed marriage, and family and friends are determined to intervene. Will Lottie and Ben have a wedding night to remember or one to forget?

Unnatural Creatures by Neil Gaiman. ( April 23)
The sixteen stories gathered by Gaiman, winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards, range from the whimsical to the terrifying. The magical creatures range from werewolves to sunbirds to beings never before classified. E. Nesbit, Diana Wynne Jones, Gahan Wilson, and other literary luminaries contribute to the anthology.
Note: Eeee! I love everything by Neil Gaiman. I’m excited for this book, but sad that it’s so short.

The Kissing List

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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.

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