EDWARD, EDWARD by Lolah Burford with Author Image

PUBLISHER: 1972/73, MacMillan
FULL TITLE: Edward, Edward: A Part of His Story And Of History 1795-1816 Set Out In Three Parts In This Form Of A New-Old Picaresque Romance That Is Also A Stud
GENRE: Historical Fiction
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: A

FROM PUBLISHER: It is a hunting tale of a strange romance between a worldly and dissolute man, James Noel Holland, Earl of Tyne, and the golden-haired young Edward, his ward–or perhaps his son. Homosexuality, sadomasochism, and incest are elements in their relationship–and so are affection, love, and the saving quality of grace.

The time of the story is the beginning of the nineteenth century–the pre-Regency years of domestic unrest, of the Napoleonic Wars, and of lawlessness, cruelty, and the vast chasm between the rulers and the ruled. The place is alternately the cold Northumberland wild country where the Earl has his seat, the grim and beautiful city of London during the Season with all its pomp, the retreats of Devon and Brighton, and eventually Vienna at the acme of its musical splendour. The background figures include Mrs. Siddons, the famous courtesan Harriett Wilson, various noted rogues, Beethoven and Schubert, Castlereagh, Godwin, George III, and particularly, in retrospect, John Wesley, whose religious teachings, precipitates and early crisis in Edward’s life but is to prove an enduring force.

In the course of the narrative a great many warring elements shape Edward’s character. He is sent to Oxford, where he proves a brilliant student. Holland takes him to London to spend some months living in his resplendent townhouse while he is grooming him–assisted by Beau Brummell, among other famous figures–to take his rightful place in the world of society when he comes of age and receives his inheritance–for the Earl has by now privately acknowledged that he is Edwards father. He obtains the skilled services of two of his former mistresses to introduce Edward to the techniques and arts of heterosexual intercourse–an experience which repulses Edward at first, and then proves pleaseant indeed. Soon Edward finds himself growing fond of a young girl–but both families violently oppose a match, in true Montague-Capulet fashion.

Many times the two men, father and son, abjure their passionate lovemaking, only to resume it more violently than before. Finally Edward’s apparent duality, augmented by a serious psychological and physical breakdown, have all but destroyed him utterly. Deeply concerned, the Earl takes him to Vienna and dramatically demonstrates that now Edward must make one of two choices: life or death. And in the end of the story is the beginning…

SPOILER SUMMARY: INCEST ALERT! Noel, 38, Anne, mother, 33. Edward, their son. They first met when she was 17. They meet again years later, have sex under a tree and she becomes pregnant. I can’t remember but I think he raped her. She thinks Noel will marry her. He won’t marry her and tells her he’s going abroad the next day and invites her to come. She says she can’t and asks him to strangle her, which he does. She only passes out. He goes away to the Continent for two months and she marries within the first week of him leaving. When their son Edward is almost seven years old, Anne goes to see Noel. Her husband has died recently and she’s dying and needs Noel to take care of their son. Edward comes to meet his father. They decide to get married for Edward’s sake. After the wedding, Anne feels like she’s dying so asks Noel to have sex with her. Anne doesn’t know if Noel is Edwards father because one week after having sex with Noel for the first time, she married someone else and began a sexual relationship with her husband and got pregnant right away.

Edward was sent to live at one of his father’s homes and didn’t actually see Noel for 6-12 months. Noel went to see Edward because he’d hurt his foot then didn’t see him again for over a year. He didn’t see him at all the year he was eight. In the spring of Edward’s 9th year, his footman George took Edward to see Gypsies at the fair. One of the men asked him questions about how his father Noel was treating him. Later that night Edward was in bed when he heard his dog whine. He went to look for the dog outside and was abducted by the same man at the fair who’d asked about his father. Noel found him 1 1/2 days later. Starting on Edward’s 12th birthday, he began to run away a lot. Later that same year, one night Edward got into bed with a sleeping Edward, kissed him, took his nightgown off and caressed his back. Edward kissed him back then asked him the next day if what they did was a sin. The day after, they traveled by ship to France. “They spent a week in his mannor, the weather holding, their days and nights divide in a way they did not speak of or refer to again.” During their last swim at the beach, just before they were to leave for England, Edward tried to drown himself. Noel saw him, went in after him and dragged him to shore. By the time Edward was 16, it had been almost four years since he’d last seen his father. Noel showed up one day to tell him he was sending him to Oxford University. Edward told him he didn’t want to go, he wanted to travel with a preacher who knew his other father, and that he wanted to become a preacher himself. Noel told him he wasn’t going. That angered Edward so he pulled out a gun and threatened to shoot Noel. Noel shot the gun out of his hand and locked Edward in a room by himself for a week. At some point during that week, Noel kissed Edward.

During the second part of the book, after Edward goes to Oxford, he starts thinking about the sexual feelings he’s having for his father. Up until this part of the book, were weren’t given any reason to believe Edward had those type of feelings for Noel except a few times years before when he kissed him. When Edward went home for the Christmas holiday, Noel locked him in the same dark, small room because he was scared Edward might try to kill him like before. At this point in the story, Noel is still a very distant, unfriendly person. He tells Edward that he wishes he had never taken guardianship of him. Every time Edward comes home to visit, Noel locks him in the same dark room. Once Edward’s friend Marion came to visit him at Noel’s and saw him locked in the room. Noel was caressing Marion’s shoulder in front of Edward. They spent the night in bed together. Edward heard them in bed. He was hurt and jealous and became physically sick.

During a visit home when Edward was 19, he told Noel that he knows he may be his father. Once while at college, Edward started wondering why Noel was so distant toward him, why he didn’t ever want to be around him. Edward knew that Noel must have meant something to his mother for her to have left him with him when she died. While Edward was growing up, Noel would look for signs of himself in Edward but could never see any. As Edward got older, he developed a violent streak like Noel. Edward and Noel were discussing the possibility of being related. Noel said, “Why do you think you are my son?” Edward said, “I don’t think, I know.” They were looking at family portraits of Noel’s family. Edward was saying there was no resemblance between him and his other father. Sometime after that, their relationship turned sexual. When Edward was 20, he told Noel that he knows he raped his mother and that he forgives him. He picked up Noel’s hand and kisses it.

Once while at the home of his mistress, Edward cuts himself with a knife. Noel and a doctor come and strap him to the bed. Fast forward to when Edward is 21, he and Noel are in bed together. They argue about something, Noel hits him in the mouth, causing it to bleed. He told Edward to ‘turn over’ but he said no. They fought some more. Noel took his pillow and held it over Edwards face until he stopped struggling, then turned him over and raped him. Later, Edward took Noel’s hand and kissed it, then kissed him and they went to sleep beside each other. Noel ‘bought’ a prostitute named Amanda. He paid her well so that he could cut her hair short like a boys and use her (anally) like a boy. He “hurt” her and she got some type of infection and died.

Edward left home for good when he was 21. Three years later he ran into Noel. Noel asked him to come home but Edward said he couldn’t yet. In July of 1815, Noel got sick and had Edward move back in. Noel recovered. In the last part of the book, Edward gets sick. One night, he drinks all of Noel’s laudanum. He almost dies but recovers. One night while still recovering, Edward woke from a bad dream. Noel pulled his nightgown up but Edward told him he didn’t want to have sex because he felt faint. Noel said he couldn’t control himself, to try to resist him because he was going to use him ‘terribly.’ He grabbed Edward, struggled with him, kissed him, all the while Edward is crying. Edward passes out and Noel rapes him.

The ending: Noel told Edward he needed to get married. Edward told him he wanted to die, so Noel filled up a marble basin with water and tried to drown him. He started to struggle. They talked and Noel punched him in the chest to wind him so that he could try to drown him again. He didn’t drown him. Edward went to see a girl he knew and they decided to get married.

A DUKE TO REMEMBER by Kelly Bowen

PUBLISHER: Forever, 7/2016
GRNRE: Fiction/Historical Romance
SETTING: England, 1819
SERIES: Season for Scandal, #2
AUTHOR SITE: link
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: C

FROM PUBLISHER: Elise deVries is not what she seems. By night, the actress captivates London theatergoers with her chameleon-like ability to slip inside her characters. By day, she uses her mastery of disguise to work undercover for Chegarre & Associates, an elite agency known for its discreet handling of indelicate scandals. But when Elise is tasked with locating the missing Duke of Ashland, she finds herself center stage in a real-life drama.

Noah Ellery left the glamour of the London aristocracy to pursue a simpler life in the country. He’s managed to avoid any complications or entanglements—that is, until he lays eyes on Elise and realizes there’s more to this beautiful woman than meets the eye. But when Elise reveals her real identity—and her true feelings for him—the runaway duke must confront the past he left behind . . . to keep the woman he loves forever.


MY THOUGHTS/SPOILERS: This story was interesting enough and was more romantic suspense than romance. The plot was pretty simple and easy to follow along with. No complicated subplots to distract from the main one. I liked both lead characters alright.

The synopsis isn’t completely accurate and it’s the publishers fault. It states that ‘Noah Ellery left the glamour of the London aristocracy to pursue a simpler life in the country’ but that’s false. At the age of ten he was forced into an insane asylum for absolutely no reason, then escaped a few years later. He had no choice but to go into hiding. He didn’t chose to leave ‘the glamour of the London aristocracy’. He was forced to live a secret life for fear of being caught and sent back against his will.

Some things I didn’t like. I find it very hard to believe that Elise found Noah right away without even looking for him. I find it hard to believe too that Noah’s friend Joshua, the one he escaped with when he was fifteen and hasn’t seen since, was also involved in finding him. I don’t find it plausible at all that Elise could be masquerading as a man sometimes without anyone suspecting she’s female. I’d have liked for Noah’s evil cousin Francis Ellery to have been in the story a lot more instead of just being at the beginning and end. His involvement in this story was far more interesting to me than that of Elise and Noah and far more interesting than the sex scenes.

I’m disappointed that Noah didn’t converse with his mother about being sent away all those years ago. I was hoping she hadn’t been involved in the plot, in fact I was assuming we’d find out she hadn’t been, but they never even spoke to one another.

I think Noah’s thirty-five years old but I’m not sure and I have no idea how old Elise is. We got no backstory at all on her. I don’t think I’d read this author again.

Lastly, there’s a line in the story (page 137 of the ARC) where Noah said, “I.Don’t.Want.The.Title”. Please keep that awful modern-day way of typing out of historicals.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

KEEPING SECRETS by Suzanne Somers

PUBLISHER: Warner Books, 2/1988
GENRE: Nonfiction/Memoir
PURCHASE: link
AUTHOR SITE: link
MY GRADE: A+

FROM PUBLISHER: This is the story of the Suzanne Somers the world never knew…the shy, frightened child trembling at her father’s drunken rages, the troubled teenager who became a pregnant bride, the young model struggling to support her son, the rising star still haunted and controlled by her past. It’s the story she wrote for America’s millions of adult children of alcoholics, people who don’t drink, yet suffer from and need help against the ravages of this insidious disease. And it’s a story of incredible courage, a candid, sometimes shocking autobiography of a woman who dared to face the dark side of her soul and triumph over it.


MY THOUGHTS: This memoir was much darker than I’d anticipated. Actually, I didn’t expect anything like it. Suzanne’s father (born to Irish immigrant parents) and all three of her siblings are recovering alcoholics, or were before the book was published in early 1988. Her father’s side has quite a few in the family.

Her father was an angry, verbally abusive foulmouthed man who was never not drinking. The house was constantly filled with chaos and there was some violence. The father was assaulted by three of the children at different times when they were teenagers. Suzanne once hit him in the head with a tennis racket when she was sixteen, resulting in a bloody head injury that required medical attention, her older sister kicked him in the ribs and broke them, and her younger brother broke his ribs too. Suzanne wet the bed until she was in her early teens, her younger brother did too, and Suzanne began having nightmares in first grade. She’d hide in her bedroom closet a lot too to get away from the yelling. Her mother stood by her man and allowed her four children to be raised up in a mess but Suzanne holds nothing against either parent.

Suzanne didn’t have it easy in her early life and career. She comes from a religious Catholic family and went to Catholic schools. She got expelled from one when she was 14 because a snooping nun found in her locker a somewhat explicit poem she wrote about a boy she was interested in. She got pregnant when she was not quite 17 1/2, got married to the father, had the baby, Bruce Jr., in November 1964, one month after her 18th birthday, then began having an affair with a much older man (47). Her marriage ended a few years later and she began dating her current husband, Alan Hamel, even though he was married with two children. They married about nine years later, in 1977. Acting and modeling jobs were few and far between so she had major trouble paying bills and was even arrested for bouncing checks. She got pregnant by Alan shortly after and had an abortion and almost hemorrhaged to death in the days following. She shot nude test photos for possible publication in Playboy magazine but changed her mind about it and never signed the release. Playboy released the photos anyway years later after she became famous by being on Three’s Company.

Sadly she didn’t discuss the controversy surrounding her firing from Three’s Company in 1980 but she may discuss it in her second memoir, 1998’s After The Fall.

I think the book is well written, I loved it and have nothing bad to say about it.

 

BLACK CHRISTMAS by Thomas Altman

PUBLISHER: Bantam, 12/1983
GENRE: Fiction/Contemporary Horror
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: C

FROM PUBLISHER: Christmas in Murdock. A time of cozy safety, snowy sidewalks, and carolling children. But this holiday season someone is bating Sheriff Dunsmore in a bizarre and deadly game. Someone is stalking the young women he knows and loves…seducing them with icy steel…leaving them for him to find – far too late. It’s the night before Christmas. The frightened town edges toward panic. And Dunsmore is about to receive the most terrifying gift of all.

MY THOUGHTS: I should state that this novel has nothing to do with the 1974 film Black Christmas (though that was novelized in 1976 by Lee Hays).

This was fairly boring. Three young women from the same town are murdered at different times within a short period of time in the days leading up to Christmas, and a fourth was almost killed. It wasn’t until shortly before the killer was revealed that I’d guessed who they were.

There were the usual suspects- ex-husband, odd boy in town, ect., neither of which turn out to be the killer. I don’t understand the significance of the number thirteen; each victim was stabbed thirteen times. The reason for killing two of the three doesn’t make any sense and it wasn’t explained why the killer had those two on their radar anyway. The ending is odd too, somewhat happy, and I’m not at all satisfied with it. The novel needed to be slightly longer so we could have gotten some answers as to what the killer was thinking.

This wasn’t suspenseful enough and it wasn’t good enough to recommend.

 

À LA MODE: 120 Recipes in 60 Pairings: Pies, Tarts, Cakes, Crisps, and More Topped with Ice Cream, Gelato, Frozen Custard, and More by Mark Scarbrough and Bruce Weinstein

PUBLISHER: St. Martin’s Griffin
GENRE: Cookbooks/Baking
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: B

FROM PUBLISHER: Are you ready to take your baking over the top? Here are sixty decadent and delightful ice creams and the sixty desserts that are their vehicles. A la Mode offers not just solid dessert recipes, from raspberry oat bars to bear claws, from chocolate pecan pie to a white chocolate pavlova, but also gives you the unforgettable pairings that make these desserts smash hits: apple cranberry pie with Camembert ice cream, chocolate sheet cake with salt caramel frozen custard, and espresso cream jelly roll with mascarpone ice cream.

Let’s face it: vanilla can sometimes be so… vanilla. A great a-la-mode pairing should be as decadent as finding the perfect wine to go with your cheese plate. With À la Mode, IACP winners and cookbook dynamos Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough show you how to create innovative delights such as creamy hazelnut gelato atop coffee-poached pears, or maple frozen custard with a mouthwatering cinnamon roll cake, alongside simpler classics like confetti ice cream with layered vanilla birthday cake. You haven’t lived until you’ve had peanut brittle pie with popcorn ice cream, a Cracker Jack fantasy!

THINGS I’VE MADE

RASPBERRY OAT BARS

These turned out really good and they have great crunch. The dough is made from butter, white and brown sugar, rolled oats, flour, almonds, egg white, salt. I left out the cinnamon. I added a little vanilla extract to the mixture and added 1/8t almond extract to the raspberry jam.

I think this could have used just 3/4c. jam instead of 1c. Of course you could substitute any other jam for the raspberry. I cut my bars, which were made in a 9″ square baking pan, into six pieces. If you happen to have a 7″ square pan you could probably make just half of this recipe.

 

CHERRY-VANILLA FROZEN CUSTARD

This has egg yolks in it, vanilla extract, milk, cream, sugar, salt, and canned sweet cherries. I don’t like that you can taste the egg, but I knew this was custard so I expected an egg taste. It was very easy to prepare in a sauce pot and my cold mixture took about 30 minutes in the ice cream maker before it thickened enough to pour into my container to freeze. When I went to eat some twenty hours later it was of a perfect scooping consistency. I used less vanilla extract than called for but it was still way too much. I’d make this again using less vanilla. When I ate the last of it four days after freezing the mixture, I didn’t even notice an eggy taste.

CHOCOLATE SOUR CHERRY LAYER CAKE

I made half the recipe in an 8″x2″ square pan and didn’t layer sour cherry jam between layers. It baked in 26 minutes. I made my own buttercream frosting for this. This is very bitter. It’s made with both unsweetened cocoa powder and melted semisweet chocolate. It’s dense like a brownie.

I’d never make this again and words can’t describe my disappointment. I’ve made countless chocolate cakes and none have ever been bitter.

ORANGE SHERBET

This is made with milk, cream, sugar, clear corn syrup, unflavored gelatin, salt, orange juice, and orange zest. It has a very pale orange color. It tastes good, like a Creamsicle® but it’s got ice crystals all through it and it’s not creamy like you’d expect and falls apart. My mixture took 28 minutes in the ice cream maker  After freezing 24 hours it was pretty firm. I’m not sure what the gelatin did for this, or the corn syrup. I’d make this again but only if I couldn’t find a creamier recipe elsewhere.

LEMON POLENTA CAKE

This buttery cake has good flavor and smells good too. It’s made with fine ground polenta, flour, plain yogurt, lemon juice, and lemon zest. It’s dense and slightly moist. The texture is not that of a standard cake since this has polenta in it. It’s more coarse. I made half in a 9″x1.5″ round pan. It sunk in the middle slightly. It baked in 19 minutes. I made my own thick vanilla glaze for it. I used the zest from one lemon for this and it’s the right amount.

SOUR CHERRY COBBLER

This recipe uses all sour cherries but I used just one drained can of them and a 16oz. bag of frozen dark sweet pitted cherries. I used a 1.5qt baking dish. The topping has ground almonds in it. My topping was wetter than it should have been though I used the exact amount of milk specified in the recipe. It didn’t taste good either and was a little too salty. The bottom of the topping was wet from the moisture from the cherries. I wouldn’t make this again.

PEACH ICE CREAM

This uses fresh peaches, milk, cream, salt, cornstarch, and peach nectar. It took just 23 minutes in the ice cream maker to thicken. The peach flavor is very subtle, as is the peach color. Because you can barely taste the peach I wouldn’t make this one again.

APPLE-CRANBERRY STREUSEL PIE

I left out the crust and cranberries, so this really isn’t a pie. In the topping I used light brown sugar instead of dark. I added salt to the apples, as well as cinnamon. The topping is pretty good but after processing it, it wasn’t like cracker crumbs but was thick and creamy. I dolloped it evenly over the apples and it spread out nicely. The top of it was crispy but the underside was moist from touching the apples. Not the best topping because it softens.

MY THOUGHTS: Though I’m happy with six of the eight things I made, I’m disappointed in this book. There are two more chocolate cake recipes and one brownie recipe in here but sadly I’m not comfortable making any of them because of how awful the one chocolate cake I made turned out. There are a few other ice cream/frozen custards I’d like to make and only a couple more baked goods.

There’s not a basic chocolate ice cream recipe in here. The one basic vanilla ice cream recipe has chopped chocolate added and was given a fancy unpronounceable name. I wish there were a few more fruit sorbet recipes, those using no dairy.

There’s not a photo of everything but there are quite a few and they’re beautiful.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

SWEET MORNINGS: 125 Sweet and Savory Breakfast and Brunch Recipes by Patty Pinner

PUBLISHER: Agate Midway, 3/2016
GENRE: Cookbooks/Baking
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: C

FROM PUBLISHER: Sweet Mornings collects more than 100 sweet and savory options for breakfast and brunch. From donuts to crumb cakes to sweet rolls, these are the kind of treats that evoke feelings of warmth and comfort like only good, old-fashioned breakfast food can.

Author Patty Pinner has been collecting breakfast recipes for as long as she can remember. She comes from a long line of breakfast bakers, and many of the recipes in this book have been passed down from the “Greats”—great-grannies and -aunties—as well as cousins and other influential women in Pinner’s life. To pore through these recipes, and then to bake them at home, evokes in Pinner memories of the many women who created them. Pinner includes charming, often comical stories about her life and family throughout the cookbook.

With generations-old recipes that range from the familiar (Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes) to the fun (Pineapple Upside Down Biscuits), Sweet Mornings is a reliable, well-tested addition to any kitchen. These recipes are ideal for slow weekend mornings and afternoons when you want to lure family and friends to the table with the intoxicating aroma of a homemade sweet treat baking in the oven.

THINGS I’VE MADE

LEMON-CORNMEAL MUFFINS

These taste good and are very dense. No hand mixer required, just a mixing bowl and whisk. You can’t really taste the cornmeal and there’s only the slightest bit of grittiness from it. I omitted the blueberries. I used water in the glaze in place of lemon juice. I made half the recipe and got seven. Though these have good flavor, I don’t know if I’ll make them again because of their density.

MISS ROSE’S BACON QUICHE

This was very easy to make but it did have a few extra steps, including cooking the bacon. I left out the mushrooms and used a little less bacon than called for. I used a premade store-bought pie crust instead of making my own like the recipe called for. This was too much mixture for a standard 9″/1 qt. pie pan so I used one that was almost 10″. This was very good, made with eggs, milk, onion, bacon, and lots of cheese, but I think I’ll use precooked sausage next time instead of bacon and make just half.

CHOCOLATE SWIRL COFFEE CAKE

This is terrible, borderline unedible, and an epic fail. Dry, crumbly, and bitter bitter bitter from way too much unsweetened cocoa powder that wasn’t mixed with enough sugar  layered between the batter. I really wanted to use less but stuck to following the recipe.

The full recipe is to be made in a 9″ square baking dish and uses a staggering mixture of 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (that amount I suspect was a typo) and just three tablespoons of sugar in the swirl layer. I made half the batter and swirl mixture and baked it in an 8″ x 1 1/2″ round pan. The recipe didn’t state to stick a knife down into the batter and swirl it around to mix the chocolate layer in but I did it anyway. I’ve never heard of a ‘swirl’ cake that omitted that step. I made a chocolate glaze for it and that didn’t help at all.

MORNING APPLE CRISP

Very good. I left the cinnamon out of the topping and put it in the apple mixture instead. In the filling I used white sugar in place of brown sugar. I’m very familiar with baking apple crisps and I knew I wouldn’t want brown sugar in the mixture. This topping has too much brown sugar in it and the rolled (old fashioned) oats are very large and the mixture just sort of fell apart though it tasted good. In fact, the whole recipe uses way too much brown sugar.

The apples took a lot longer to bake than specified (35-45 minutes) in the recipe. I did use a slightly shorter baking dish so the apples weren’t spread out as much. Raw apples, like raw potatoes, take quite awhile to cook. After 40 minutes the topping browned as much as I wanted but the apples were still hard. I covered the top of the baking dish loosely with foil and let it bake for an additional 35 minutes. I used a 2.5qt/11″x7″ dish.

BLACKBERRY BUCKLE

This is very good. A buckle is cake batter that you top with fruit, fresh, frozen, or canned. The batter cooks up around the fruit, covering most of it. The recipe said to use a 9″ square dish (which is usually 2″ deep) but this was so much mixture. I smartly used a 10″x2.5″ 7c. capacity dish, and it was perfect.

I used slightly more than 2c. frozen berries, and it was a little too much. They weren’t as sweet as they should have been so I sprinkled close to 1/4c. white sugar on top, which gave the cooked cake a nice sweet top. Mine took 47 minutes to bake and the recipe stated to bake it 30-35 minutes. I didn’t make the crumb topping. I felt it was very unnecessary. This was very easy to make and I’d make it again. I also doubled the salt in the batter for a total of 1/4t. and it was perfect.

PUFFED CHERRY PANCAKE CASSEROLE

This is very good but it’s nothing like a pancake. It’s made with eggs, sugar, butter, flour, milk, and flavorings. It bakes up into a thick slab of firm custard and the cherries rise to the top.

I made half the recipe in a 1.5qt baking dish and baked it 25 minutes. It’s 1″ thick. I added a little almond extract to the mixture because of the cherries and used just a few dashes of cinnamon. It needed more salt so I added a little extra but that wasn’t enough. I think four tablespoons of butter was too much because it was squirting and running out of every crack so I’ll use half that amount next time.

I’m very happy with this and I’ll make it again. I already make a similar version. You could use fresh or frozen raspberries or blueberries in place of cherries, or chopped canned peaches.

LEMON-COCONUT BREAD

This was terrible. Dry, dense, flavor’s not good, and was a waste of ingredients. Most sweet quick breads are moist but this one is truly drier like yeast batter bread. I made half in a 1qt. loaf pan and baked it for 38 minutes. I was only able to eat two pieces of this before it went into the trash.

PEACH COBBLER

This recipe calls for fresh or canned peaches so I used three 15oz. cans of peach chunks and some of their juice. I used a 10″x2.5″, 7c. capacity round baking dish and it was barely deep enough. I added cinnamon to the peaches and left the nutmeg out of the topping. The topping is a very very sweet, thin eggless batter that gets poured evenly over the peaches. I added a little vanilla extract to it. It needed a little more salt but other than that, it’s very good. I’m happy with how this turned out.

MY THOUGHTS: Of the eight things I baked there are only four that I’d make again. None of the cakes turned out so I’d never bake another cake from this book. There’s also a mistake in the brownie muffin recipe. It calls for ‘semisweet cocoa powder’ when there’s no such thing. There aren’t many photos in this book either.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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THE COOKIES & CUPS COOKBOOK: 125+ sweet & savory recipes reminding you to Always Eat Dessert First by Shelly Jaronsky

PUBLISHER: Gallery Books, 4/2016
GENRE: Cookbooks/Baking
AUTHOR SITE: link
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: C

FROM PUBLISHER: Wildly popular Cookies & Cups blogger Shelly Jaronsky’s eagerly anticipated cookbook features all-new, mouth-watering, delectable sweet treats 100% guaranteed to make you want to eat dessert first.

Now you can bring Shelly’s signature style into your own kitchen with more than 125 no-fail recipes, including some reader-approved favorites and a special bonus section dedicated to the quick and savory side of cooking. Authored in the witty, intimate style of the blog that draws more than three million monthly page views and a social following of more than seven hundred thousand fans, The Cookies & Cups Cookbook is the go-to source for all things flavorful, accessible, and irresistibly tasty.

THINGS I’VE MADE

COOKIES AND CREAM COOKIES


I made half the recipe and got 28 cookies. I omitted the chopped Oreo’s and white chocolate chips. I added chopped lightly toasted slivered almonds and 1/4c. mini semisweet chocolate chips. My dough balls didn’t spread much at all during baking and were very thick. When they came out of the oven I flattened them with the back of a measuring cup. I flattened the rest of the dough balls before baking. These are bland-tasting, not sweet enough, and I’d never make them again. Dense too.

EPIC CHOCOLATE PUDDING PIE
This pie couldn’t have been easier to make. You bring ingredients to a boil on the stove, pour into prebaked pie shell and refrigerate for hours. I used a store-bought Keebler® shortbread pie crust and thawed frozen whipped topping instead of homemade whipped cream (I don’t like it). I made half the recipe. The pie is a little bitter and not quite sweet enough. I think it would still be bitter with less chocolate so next time I make it I’m going to use bittersweet chocolate in place of unsweetened to see if that helps.

CRISPY CHEWY OATMEAL COOKIES
These turned out great but needed a little more salt. I used unsalted butter when the recipe called for salted so I needed to add a little more salt than the recipe called for. I did but not enough. I omitted the coconut and white chocolate chips and added mini semisweet chocolate chips and finely chopped lightly toasted pecans. I’d definitely make these again. I made half and got 24 cookies. My first batch, pictured, were overbaked by about one minute and they got harder as they sat in a sealed container.

TACO PASTA
This was pretty good and required just one deep skillet to cook the pasta in then the meat mixture. It uses ground beef, taco mix, chili powder, cumin, corn, crushed tomatoes, salsa, shredded cheese.
I made half the recipe but used even less pasta than called for. I used about 1 1/2 c. dry (5oz) instead of 8oz. I omitted the black beans. The salsa almost ruined this as the flavors didn’t mesh with the other seasonings. I’ll definitely make this again, minus the salsa.

TEXAS SHEET CAKE
I made half of this chocolate cake in a 9″x1.5″ round pan*. The cake is made with equal parts butter and shortening, melted. It uses a small amount of unsweetened cocoa powder. It’s dense and very good. I added extra salt because I used unsalted butter, not salted like the recipe states. I made my own vanilla frosting for this, not the chocolate one in the recipe.
*An 8″x2″ round or square pan holds the same amount.

CATAGORIES: So You Think You Can Bake?, Eat Cake For Breakfast, Cookies, Brownies and Bars, Cake, Frosting, Pie, Party Snacks, Pizza and Pasta, Salads and Sammies, Family Favorites

MY THOUGHTS: I’m pretty disappointed in this book. I’ve made five things and there are only about six more I’d actually make and there’s no telling how they’d turn out.

Of the things I’ve made only two were what I’d call really great, the sheet cake and oatmeal cookies. The great thing about the oatmeal cookies is that you can add whatever you want to the batter if you’d like, like chocolate chips, chopped dried fruit or nuts.

There’s an attractive color photo for each and every recipe, which is very nice, and I love the cover. There’s maybe eight recipes that have silly childish sprinkles or cereal decorating the top or stirred into the batter, which is very unappealing to me as an adult.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

HOLIDAY COOKIES: Prize-Winning Family Recipes from the Chicago Tribune for Cookies, Bars, Brownies and More by Chicago Tribune Staff

PUBLISHER: Agate Surrey, 10/2014
GENRE: Cookbooks/Baking/Cookies
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: C

FROM PUBLISHER: For nearly three decades, the Chicago Tribune has run its annual Holiday Cookie Contest, asking readers to submit recipes that are both unique and meaningful to them. Each recipe is accompanied by a brief description or story explaining why the cookie is special to the reader and their family. The Chicago Tribune’s award-winning food writers and editors carefully consider these essays, select the finalists, and then publish winning recipes.

Good Eating’s Holiday Cookies is a comprehensive collection of the best holiday cookies as curated from nearly three decades worth of reader submissions. These delicious recipes represent an eclectic mix of traditional and modern recipes from diverse cultural background and skill levels, such as Tropical Nuevo Latino Cookies, Dorie’s Dark and Stormies, and Grandma Grump’s Peanut Butter Drizzles.

Complete with full-color photography and helpful baking tips, this gorgeous compilation brings the warmth and expertise of a cross-generational baking community home for the holidays. From cookie classics to twists on old standards, Good Eating’s Holiday Cookies provides the home baker with a plethora of possibilities for any holiday party.

THINGS I’VE MADE
JOAN’S LITTLE JOYS

I’m not impressed with these cookies at all. This baked cookie looks nothing like the one in the book. Based on the appearance of these cookies while they were baking, the way they were getting very brown around the edges before the minimum baking time was up, I realized the dough was exactly like a Linzer cookie, which is basically like a shortbread cookie; no egg, baking soda, or baking powder in the dough. The photo of the finished cookie in the book shows a very pale cookie that’s decorated with a green-tinted glaze. That’s why I decided to make it- because it looked nothing like a Linzer cookie. This type of cookie softens up soon after baking and makes for a terrible sandwich cookie. They taste good, though.

WHITE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES WITH DRIED CHERRIES

This is a good-flavored sweet cookie that has ground oats in the dough. They’re a little dry. I omitted the white chocolate and added lightly toasted chopped slivered almonds, almond extract, and cherries to half the dough. To the other half I added mini semisweet chocolate chips and finely chopped almonds.

I used a 1T. cookie scoop/1 1/2″ diameter and got 36 dough balls. My cookies didn’t spread out like the ones in the photo did. If I ever make these again I’ll form the dough into a log that’s wrapped in plastic wrap, chill/freeze it and make slice-n-bake cookies out of it.


MY THOUGHTS: This is an attractive book, inside and out, but I’m very disappointed in it. I only like one of the two recipes I tried and there’s only about three more recipes I’d try.

 

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

FROZEN IN FEAR: A True Story of Surviving the Shadows of Death by Jane Carson-Sandler

PUBLISHER: True Directions, 6/2014
GENRE: Nonfiction/Memoir/True Crime
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: A

FROM PUBLISHER: Jane Carson-Sandler, a native of Northern New Jersey, entered the US Air Force Nurse Corps in 1969 and retired in 1999 after serving 30 years of active and reserve duty. Seven years after entering the military, she was raped in her own home while her three year old son was lying beside her. Thirty eight years have passed. This notorious rapist and serial killer, known as the East Area Rapist (EAR), has raped 50 women and has murdered twelve people including men and women in California. He still has not been caught. With raw emotion, Jane’s story entails how she survived not only this trauma, but some other bruising encounters with death such as her battle with alcohol and other serious health issues. Through the Grace and love of God, Jane went from being a victim to a survivor. She describes her God inspired journey in making this transition in hopes of helping and inspiring others.

MY THOUGHTS: This book is very condensed yet very informative about Jane’s life. She survived a prolific California serial rapist in October 1976 (50 known victims) who went on to become a serial killer (The Original Night Stalker/ONS) of at least 10 people.

Jane’s had a very interesting life. She’s the daughter of a sometimes violent alcoholic electrician father and a mother who’s a nurse. She became a nurse herself and has lived throughout the U.S. and Europe and now resides in South Carolina with her third husband.

I really wish she had expanded on her experience with talking to prison inmates about being a rape survivor. I’d love to know what they had to say about her story, especially since some of them are rapists themselves.

She’s been a recovering alcoholic since 2003. I take issue with her comment, “God removed my addiction”. An addiction doesn’t get ‘removed’ by anything or anyone.

Jane’s known as victim #5 in this case. You can see her interviewed on The Original Night Stalker episode of I.D.’s Dark Minds, season 2, episode 1.

MISTRESS OF MELLYN by Victoria Holt

PUBLISHER: Doubleday, 1960
GENRE: Fiction/Gothic Romantic Suspense
SETTING: England, 19th Century
PSEUDONMYS: link
MY GRADE: B-

FROM PUBLISHER: From the moment Martha Leigh first glimpsed the cold, brooding manse high on the fog-shrouded Cornish cliffs, she felt a chill of apprehension.

Then she met her employer, the arrogant master of Mellyn, and his spoiled, headstrong daughter, Alvean, and knew why the three governesses before her had left the eerie mansion.
Slowly, almost imperceptibly, Martha began to be aware of an atmosphere of menace. There had been whispers of past horrors, warnings of violence yet to come–and now there were strange accidents. It was madness to stay on.

But Connan TreMellyn’s dark charm had over-powered Martha’s natural caution. Against her will she felt irresistibly drawn to the handsome, enigmatic master of Mellyn.

Now, even as she found herself being pulled deeper and deeper into a frightening web of unseen terror, she knew she could not, would not leave…


MY THOUGHTS: This story was interesting enough but the plot was very slow moving the entire way through and fairly tame. There have been a few suspicious happenings at Connan’s home lately; mysterious letters, falling boulders, ect. I never once guessed who the culprit was. I don’t like that the tiny bit of action this story had took place during the last thirteen pages. I didn’t get a gothic feel from this story either, not once.

Every single character was underdeveloped and I didn’t feel as if I’d gotten to know any of them. With Connan I’m not seeing any ‘charm’, dark or otherwise. He wasn’t around all that much. I don’t understand where his attraction and ‘love’ for Martha came from at all. They’re hardly ever together and all of a sudden he wants to marry her. I don’t know why he didn’t just marry Lady Linda Treslyn since they were involved with each other.

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