Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Bake That Book: Amy & Roger's Epic Detour Kentucky Derby Pie

Baking recipes inspired by my favourite YA novels and sharing the yumminess around.



THE BOOK 
Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Goodreads | Amazon 
Amy and Roger's Epic Detour is one of my favourite road trip books. It combines several things which I love: music, playlists, travel, scrapbooks, love stories, food, self discovery, and driving through the USA. I loved reading about all the different places they visited and the different diners/food chains, as it's so different to what it's like in Australia. When I visited the US early this year I got to try so many foods that we just don't see here; pastrami, hot "cheese" sauce, buffalo wings, waffles with chicken and gravy, sliders, mac n' cheese, and pies. In Australia when we think of a pie, we think of a savoury meat pie, with tomato sauce (aka ketchup). While these pies are OK, they can't compare to the array of delicious sweet pies that you find in the US; pies with fruit fillings, creamy mousses and puddings, nut pies, or even a cheesecake like filling as seen in one of my favs, Key Lime pie. 







THE DISH     
Kentucky Derby Pie 
One of the stops on Amy & Roger's journey is Louisville, Kentucky. While there they stop by the Brown Hotel (a google search tells me this is a real establishment) where they lunch on, you guessed it, Derby Pie. The Derby Pie is described in the book as being a "mixture of chocolate and strawberries and pecans". The original recipe for Derby Pie is trademarked and apparently top secret however there are plenty of recipes out there and the main ingredients are known to be nuts, bourbon, and chocolate. 


This "Derby" Pie doesn't disappoint, and while nice cold, it's best warmed up so that the chocolate 
and nut concoction is all oozy and gooey. 

You can find a recipe for "Derby" Pie here



Have you baked anything lately?
What's your favourite pie? Sweet or savoury. 

Friday, 27 July 2012

Follow Friday #7


Feature and Follow Friday is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read

Q: Summer Reading. What was your favorite book that you were REQUIRED to read when you were in school?


I was the biggest nerd during school (not much has changed :) ) so I pretty much enjoyed all the books I had to read. The only exception being Pride and Prejudice. The horror! I know. I actually loved the book prior to studying it in class, but after having to analyse it to death and read the WHOLE book aloud in class it was kind of ruined for me. There were a lot of great classic books that I was required to read for school, the following books are the ones that have resonated with me the most throughout the years: 

The Outsiders - S. E. Hinton
The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
Macbeth - William Shakespeare












A View From the Bridge-
Arthur Miller
The Accidental Tourist - Anne Tyler         
Tomorrow, When the War
Began - John Marsden













Have you read any of these books?
Love them or hate them?
Has studying a book/over-analysing it ever ruined one of your favourite books? 


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Monday, 23 July 2012

Book Review: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard


Title: Wanderlove
Author: Kirsten Hubbard
Publisher: Delacorte
Released: March 2012
Summary: Are you a Global Vagabond? No, but 18-year-old Bria wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. So when Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspoken sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path. Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel through Mayan villages and remote Belizean islands, they discover they're both seeking to leave behind the old versions of themselves. The secret to escaping the past, Rowan's found, is to keep moving forward. But Bria realizes she can't run forever. At some point, you have to look back. - Goodreads | Amazon 

I think the thing that makes Wanderlove such a great book is that it appeals to almost everyone. Most people like to travel. Most people have, at some stage in their life, gone through an internal crisis, where they have been uncertain of their future and which path they should take. Most people love the idea of a journey of self discovery. Most people wish they could have an adventure, preferably in an exotic location and with an attractive tour guide. And if most people don't like these things, that's fine, cause I do.

Kirsten Hubbard has created the perfect travel novel for young adults, and for all readers really. Bria is a young woman who is left reeling after her break-up with her boyfriend Toby and subsequent inability to find inspiration and comfort in her art anymore. Getting away seems like the perfect idea. Haven't we all wanted to just pack up and leave our problems behind, if only for a little while? Despite a bumpy start (the tour group Bria signed up for is populated by the over 55 crowd) she finds her way when she meets bohemian backpackers Starling and Rowan.  

Hubbard describes the backpacker way of life to a T - not that I am an expert on all things backpacking - but it all felt real, from the lack of running water and creepy bugs, to the risks of traveling alone in a foreign country. It is all the little elements and nuances that make this an authentic piece of travel fiction, written by someone who, evidently, has travelled to these places. 

Wanderlove would greatly appeal to people who love romance. Not that insta-love stuff, but the slow build of a new relationship. Filled with awkward stilted moments, confusion, and arguments as two people find their footing around each other. I loved the will-they-won't-they aspect of Bria and Rowan's relationship, and that their friendship wasn't rushed and unrealistic. 

The reader is not only taken on a journey through South America in Wanderlove but  also on a journey of Bria's self discovery. There is a strong character development arc in this novel that is intimately weaved through Bria's travels and experiences. It is refreshing to read how much the trip changed Bria by the end of the book. I couldn't finish this review without mentioning the illustrations that are littered throughout Wanderlove. These beautiful drawings, which give us glimpses into Bria's sketchbook, add so much to the story. 

Wanderlove is so many things. An inspirational story about healing and finding oneself. A physical and emotional journey through a foreign land. A beautifully written and illustrated novel with heart.   


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Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Waiting On Wednesday #7

Everything Left Unsaid by Jessica Davidson
August 1st 2012 - Pan MacMillan

"I wait for him, the cold seeping through my clothes, until it finally dawns on me that he's not coming back. And I wonder why he chose her instead of me? Why he went looking for her when I was right there." 


 Tai and Juliet have been best friends forever – since they met at kindy and decided to get married in first grade.They understand each other in the way that only best friends can.They love music, beach walks, energy drinks and, they are slowly discovering, each other. As they dream of adventures beyond the HSC – a future free of homework, curfews and parents, a life together – their plans are suddenly and dramatically derailed.For Tai is sick. And not everything you wish for can come true.


 A poignant story of first love, hope, grief, family, and the twistedness of life. - Goodreads 


The reviews that have come out for this book, so far, look really good. Even though the summary scares me a little, because it sounds heavy and like there could be potential snot-sobbing, I'm still excited to read it. I just can't go past Australian YA books.

What are you waiting on this week? 
Leave your links and I'll be sure to check them out. 


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Monday, 16 July 2012

Songs About Teenagers

Source: We Heart It

1. That Teenage Feeling - Neko Case 
I love Neko Case. I mean, my blog is named after one of her songs. I love the rich quality and power of her voice and how she infuses emotion into every word she sings. I love that I love her, even though she is a bit country, and I'm not a country person. That Teenage Feeling, like most of Neko Case's music, is a morose and somber affair. Her style has been described as everything from alt-rock americana to country noir. 
"And nothing comforts me the same as my brave friend who says, I don't care if forever never comes, cause I'm holding out for that teenager feeling."



2. Teenager - Cygnets 
I honestly don't know much about this band, except that they're a fairly new group out of Canada who have a penchant for producing catchy indie-pop tunes. They have been jokingly referred to as 'The Best British Band Not To Come Out Of Britain'. Teenager is a punky and upbeat tune that's a bit dark. 
"Your hands are cold and you don't ever sleep alone, and you're a teenager. Mascara running from your eyes and you don't mind, cause you're a teenager. It's problematic, oh don't be so dramatic, you're a teenager." 


Sunday, 15 July 2012

Book Review: Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter

Goddess Interrupted
Title: Goddess Interrupted (Goddess Test #2)
Author: Aimee Carter
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Released: March 2012
Summary: Becoming immortal wasn't supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she's as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he's becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate's coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans. As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person who is the greatest threat to her future. Henry's first wife, Persephone.GoodreadsAmazon  


*You can read my review of The Goddess Test, the first book in the series, here.*

Goddess Interrupted is the second novel in The Goddess Test trilogy and picks up 6 months after the previous book, with Kate returning to the Underworld after a Summer away in Greece. Kate's arrival is not as joyous as she expected or hoped it would be. Her husband, Henry (aka Hades), is infuriatingly aloof and distant, and with the King of the Titans on the loose and set to destroy all of humanity things aren't exactly peachy. 


Goddess Interrupted is a much stronger novel than the first title in the series, The Goddess Test. We get to learn more about the gods and goddesses - now that their existence isn't shrouded in mystery - and more about the world Carter has constructed and retold. The danger and peril is expounded in this novel too as we see the arrival of Cronus, a Titan God with immeasurable power.  However, Goddess Interrupted, much like its predecessor, places a greater emphasis on the social-relationship aspects in the story. For much of the novel although the threat of Calliope and Cronus is looming, there is much more time devoted to exploring Kate's relationship with Henry, or lack-thereof. 


Carter really nows how to pull on those emotional heartstrings, and there was a decent chunk of the novel where I was genuinely anxious and hurt for Kate. I love a bit of relationship angst, so I enjoyed this, although I am sure others might not find Kate's relationship woes with Henry as enjoyable as I did. Henry, not Kate, was by far the most infuriating character in this novel for me, excluding Persephone that is. While Carter set him up as the intriguingly mysterious romantic lead in the first book, I was disappointed that  in this novel he just came off as annoyingly vague and distant. 


The ending of Goddess Interrupted completely blew me away, and it's not even a question of whether I will read the next book in the series; I have to read it to resolve the major cliffhanger we were left with. I also want to see Kate and Henry's relationship develop and for Kate to get the resolution and certainty that she deserves. 


Goddess Interrupted is an emotional and exciting installment in the series that readers who love romance will most likely enjoy. 



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Thursday, 12 July 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #6


The Jelly Bean Crisis - Jolene Stockman
August 1st 2012 - CreateSpace



A total meltdown. The whole school watching. Now Poppy’s an ex-straight-A with no Plan B.

When Poppy Johnson throws away a full scholarship to Columbia, she can only blame the jelly beans. The yucky green ones? Midnight cram sessions and Saturday’s spent studying. The delicious red? The family legacy: Columbia, and a future in finance. Except now it’s starting to look like Poppy’s jelly bean theory is wrong. School has been her life until, but maybe it’s time to start living now.

Poppy has thirty days to try a new life. No school, no studying. Just jumping into every possible world. Thirty days to find her passion, her path, and maybe even love. The Jelly Bean Crisis is officially on. - Goodreads










What are you waiting on this week? 

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Monday, 9 July 2012

Book Review: Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber

Title: Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick
Author: Joe Schreiber
Publisher: Egmont
Released: March 2012
Summary: 
Perry Stormaire is a normal high school senior—he is busy applying to college and rehearsing with his band—until he agrees to go to the prom with the Lithuanian exchange student who is staying with his family. It turns out that Gobi Zaksauskas is not the mousy teenager that she seems but rather an attractive, confident trained assassin. Instead of going to the prom, Perry finds himself on a wild ride through the streets of New York City as Gobi commandeers the Jaguar his father lent him for the prom in order to take out her targets. Perry learns a lot about himself—and ends up with some amazing material for his college application essays.GoodreadsAmazon  


Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick is an exhilarating action-packed read. The novel takes place over the course of one crazy night in New York City and is a quick page-turning read that can easily be devoured in one sitting. Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick is told from the point of view of  high-school teenager Perry Stormaire; an average guy who plays in a band and fantasizes about a getting a hot European exchange student. In reality, his exchange student wears frumpy clothes, thick glasses, and barely talks to anyone. 


When Perry is forced to take Lithuanian exchange student, Gobi, to Prom it is revealed that she is not entirely what she seems. Gobi is not, in fact, an introverted exchange student but a trained assassin, and from that point of the novel onwards Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick becomes a killing-free-for-all with plenty of hilarity as the innocent and naive Perry is tagged along into a bloodbath of epic proportions.  


Every chapter in the book is preceded by a college application essay topic, which is then answered in that chapter. I really liked this as it gave further insight into Perry, as well as also making me thankful that I never had to apply for University in North America. 


The characterization of Perry, although somewhat thinly drawn, revolves around his need to please his overbearing and stubborn father, who has certain expectations of what he is to make of his life; Law School at Columbia University being his top priority. Gobi is depicted as a fearless warrior and a real force to be reckoned with, and it is due to the events that take place over the course of this night, what Perry learns about Gobi and himself, that gives Perry the courage and strength to assert himself. There was a great chemistry between Perry and Gobi that sizzled on the page and added a dash of romance to this thrilling plot driven novel. 


Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick in 5 words: People die. It's crazy good. 


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Saturday, 7 July 2012

Book Review: Spell Bound (Hex Hall #3) by Rachel Hawkins

Title: Spell Bound (Hex Hall #3)
Author: Rachel Hawkins 
Publisher: Hyperion 
Released: March 2012
Summary: Hailed as “impossible to put down,” the Hex Hall series has both critics and teens cheering. With a winning combination of romance, action, magic and humor, this third volume will leave readers enchanted. Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident. Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late?- Goodreads 


I have a confession to make: I'm the worst at remembering books I've read. Unless the book was shocking or for some reason really, really, memorable I'm likely to have forgotten it a few months later. Luckily Rachel Hawkins has created a series that sticks, and although at the outset of picking up Spell Bound, the last installment in the Hex Hall series, some of the details were a bit hazy around the edges I was able to be transported right back into the world of Witches, Warlocks, Demons, Sophie Mercer and Archer Cross, of course. Who could forget about him?


Another book, another awful cover. Ok, I kid. But really. These babies need a makeover stat. Spell Bound was every bit as action-packed and addictive as the two previous Hex Hall novels. Once again Sophie Mercer's special brand of humor, or should I say snarky sarcasm, strikes again. And although Spell Bound is overall more tragic and dark than previous Hex Hall novels it is still filled to the brim with Sophie-isms. The plot is fast moving and we are introduced to some kickass new characters (can anyone say Brannick kids spinoff?). I loved that we get to return to Hex Hall, back were it all began; though a somewhat rushed conclusion to this series may be disappointing for some fans. 


As for the love side of things. Well it was...satisfying. I have been team Archer all the way, so the dreaded love triangle stuff annoyed me a little bit, but I came around to Cal in the end as he proves to be a good friend to Sophie. Spell Bound was a spell-binding ending to a captivating series that sees our beloved characters each getting their happy ending (kinda), despite there being some...sacrifices. 


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Friday, 6 July 2012

Follow Friday #6


Feature and Follow Friday is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read

Q: Jumping Genres: Ever pick up a book from a genre you usually don’t like and LOVE it? Tell us about it and why you picked it up in the first place.


I don't normally stray too far from what I know I will like to read. When I do venture out beyond my tastes it's usually for books that are deemed "classics" (i.e. books that I think I should have read.  You know, those serious grown-up-people books :) ). As a book in the horror genre, Dracula by Bram Stoker isn't something I would normally pick up, but I read it cause I felt like I should and thought it was great. I mean it probably isn't an extreme deviation from what I like seeing as how I loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer and own nearly every Buffy book ever written (omg no lie). 

Source: LifeandZombies

On a somewhat related note, anyone else excited to see Hotel Transylvania & Frankenweenie. No? Ok... only me then. 



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Thursday, 5 July 2012

Bake That Book: The Fine Art of Truth or Dare Cannoli Cupcakes


CANNOLI CUPCAKES 


Inspired by: The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen  (Read my review of it here). 
Recipe: You can find the recipe for Cannoli Cupcakes at What's Cookin' Chicago?


There were so many mouthwatering descriptions in this book, which was kinda expected given that the main character's family owned an Italian restaurant. One of the things I loved about this book was the description of Ella's family owned and run restaurant as it brought back memories of my days growing up in a kitchen where my Nonna was always standing over a big pot of sauce. In The Fine Art of Truth or Dare Ella's Nonna is renowned for making the best cannoli (yum!). Ella uses cannoli as a peace offering when things get rocky with her bestie Frankie and tempts the delectable heart throb Alex via email with the promise of some of these tasty treats. 


"It was a toss-up which was worse: that I was sitting in Anthony's Coffee Shop, renowned for its desserts, with a box full of Nonna's cannoli in my bag on the floor, or that the cannoli on the plate in front of me was not Nonna's"- Ella meeting Frankie with cannoli as a peace offering, The Fine Art of Truth or Dare


"I will be having my turkey (there will be one, but it will be somewhat lost among the pumpkin fettuccine, sausage-stuffed artichokes, garlic with green beans, and at least four lasagnas, not to mention the sweet potato cannoli and chocolate ricotta pie)" - Ella's Thanksgiving email to Alex,  The Fine Art of Truth or Dare.







These cupcakes include ricotta, orange zest and marsala in the cake, are filled with a ricotta cannoli filling, and are topped with a vanilla buttercream frosting. While not my favourite cupcakes as the cake batter was a bit lumpy and the amount of frosting given was not enough to cover all 24 cupcakes, these were still pretty tasty and cannoli-y.

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Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Book Review: Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday


Title: Deadly Cool (Deadly Cool #1)
Author: Gemma Halliday
Publisher: HarperTeen
Released: October 2011
Summary: Hartley Grace Featherstone is having a very bad day. First she finds out that her boyfriend is cheating on her with the president of the Herbert Hoover High School Chastity Club. Then he’s pegged as the #1 suspect in a murder. And if that weren’t enough, now he’s depending on Hartley to clear his name. But as much as Hartley wouldn’t mind seeing him squirm, she knows he’s innocent, and she’s the only one who can help him. Along with her best friend, Sam, and the school’s resident Bad Boy, Chase, Hartley starts investigating on her own. But as the dead bodies begin to pile up, the mystery deepens, the suspects multiply, and Hartley begins to fear that she may be the killer’s next victim. - Goodreads 


Deadly Cool is a fun and gripping mystery book that follows Hartley Featherstone, an ordinary girl who is turned teen detective when dead bodies start accumulating at Herbert Hoover High. Similar in tone to Kaz Delaney's 2012 YA novel Dead, Actually, another whodunnit murder story for the high school crowd, Deadly Cool is written in a light-hearted way despite the serious subject matter (people are dying, yo). 


The real star attraction of Deadly Cool is the smart and funny narration by protagonist Hartley who is prone to such one liners as "How was it fair that I had to conduct a murder investigation and do trig?". Hartley's sarcastic wit and humor keep the story fresh and funny even though there is a killer on the loose and all. Along with her BFF sidekick Sam and bad boy/future love interest Chase, Hartley must find out who the killer is to absolve her ex-boyfriend. The fact that her ex was cheating on her just goes to show how nice, or delusional, a character Harley is as she is still determined to help him. 


Going by the cover of this book I was expecting something a bit more sinister or serious from Deadly Cool but it was really just pure entertainment with a few scary nail biting moments (remember that pesky killer?). The mystery element was well done and it was fun reading and trying to work out who was behind the murders along with Hartley. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series Social Suicide partly for more Hartley/Chase moments and partly to see what other tricks Halliday has up her sleeves for the sweet and sassy Hartley Featherstone. Deady Cool is a promising start to a new series which people who like a bit of mystery in their YA are sure to enjoy. 


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