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.

HER LADYSHIP’S COMPANION by Evangeline Collins

PUBLISHER: Berkley Sensation, 5/2009
GENRE: Fiction/Historical Romance
SETTING: England and Scotland, 1816
AUTHOR SITE: link
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: B

FROM PUBLISHER: In the Scottish countryside of Selkirk, Lady Isabella Stirling resides at Bowhill Park, serving penance for a sin that nearly ruined her family. For five years she has been condemned to a loveless marriage and confined to the estate where she does little more than tend her rose garden. With her husband absent for months at a time and few visitors, Bella lives a lonely existence, denying the passions that burn within her very soul.

Then her cousin comes for a visit and makes an outrageous suggestion: what Bella needs is a lover. A hired lover. Despite her need, Bella says no. But soon Mr. Gideon Rosedale arrives-and he is at her service for two weeks. Indulging in what she intends to be a harmless flirtation, Bella is overcome by Gideon’s intoxicating presence. And when she at last permits him to satisfy her desires, she discovers she’s done the unthinkable-she’s fallen in love.

MY THOUGHTS: The story takes place in England and Scotland in 1816 and spans about ten months. The heroine is Isabella ‘Bella’ Stirling. She’s 24 and has been married to Lord Stirling, 34, for almost five years. He’s impotent and they have no relationship of any kind with each other and he’s rarely at home. He’s both physically and verbally abusive toward her. Bella is 5’8″ and has pale blond and violet eyes. She’s terribly unhappy. Her parents are dead and she’s got two brothers and two sisters who have never come to visit her.

The hero is Gideon Rosedale. He’s twenty-seven, 6’1″ and has dark brown hair and brown eyes. He’s a prostitute and has been for ten years. His mother was one and he doesn’t know who his father is. He was raised up in a brothel. Bella’s cousin, Esmé, hires him to ‘service’ Bella for two weeks. That’s how the hero and heroine meet.

Bella is so lonely and isolated. I think she became a bit obsessed with Gideon, especially after their original two week stay was over. She was so starved or affection that once she warmed up to him, she was not emotionally prepared to let him go. To me, she showed signs of being mentally unbalanced and seemed a bit immature. She also seems hypersexual. That combined with her overall emotional state made me wonder if she was bipolar. I feel she was a bit of a weak character, pretty passive with things that had nothing to do with Gideon.

Gideon seemed a little bland to me. I’d have liked to have known a bit more about his upbringing. I don’t think his character was developed quite enough. Bella’s surely wasn’t. We weren’t told a thing about her past; childhood, upbringing, nothing. I want to know why her siblings never came to visit her.

The sex scenes were very explict but ordinary and there were plenty of them. I was a bit surprised by one scene near the end involving something the hero did to the heroine. I’d give the sex an A-.

Overall, there wasn’t much going on in this story but sex. No real plot at all except toward the end when Bella’s husband pays her a visit. Though the heroine is married to another, she and Gideon have their happily-ever-after. How? You’ll have to read the book to find out! I grade this book 3.5 stars/B-.

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

 

BOUND BY THE HEART by Marsha Canham

PUBLISHER: Avon, 10/1984
GENRE: Fiction/Historical Romance
SETTING: Caribbean & Barbados, 1811/12
BODICE RIPPER? Yes
PURCHASE: link
AUTHOR SITE: link
MY GRADE: D

FROM PUBLISHER: Rescued from the stormy waters of the Caribbean, Summer Cambridge, daughter of the British governor of Barbados faced a new threat aboard the American ship Chimera. Captain Morgan Wade, the notorious buccaneer, brazenly ordered the young beauty to his cabin to be held for his own pleasure!

Summer fought him with the ferocity of a wildcat, but held by his insistent passion, she was swept by waves of desire she had never known, and was powerless to resist him.

Even as she returned to Barbados and the marriage that had been arranged for her, she still trembled with memories of those days and nights of forbidden passions, and of the man whose love would forever hold her heart captive.

MY THOUGHTS: I’m reviewing the out of print paperback from 1984, not the rewritten e-book, which has the rape scene removed.

Summer is blond with gray-green eyes. Her age was never given so I’ll assume she’s in her early twenties. She’s a typical, slightly boring heroine. Not very feisty like I prefer, especially in these older books.

The American hero, Morgan, is thirty-four years old and has long black hair and blue eyes. He buys cargo and guns legally then sells them to the French, then transports them to America. In typical bodice ripper fashion, he rapes Summer aboard his ship once or twice (page 35 of print book) and makes no apologies for it. That’s pretty much where his abuse of her ends.

I liked her terrible husband Bennett Winfield. He lost interest in her right after they married. He suspected her of harboring feelings for Morgan and a secret, and forbade her ever seeing him again and threatened to ruin her and her family if she did. He’s shown violence towards her too. I like him much more than I do Morgan.

The story spans about a little over a year, beginning in June 1811. This just wasn’t a good story at all. It fits my criteria of a mild bodice ripper; it had the typical arrogant hero, rape, a decent amount of time apart from each other (over a year), and evil secondary characters and lots of action involving ships.

Morgan’s slightly younger half brother, Stuart Roarke was just pointless in this story.

I liked the first 119 pages when Summer and her ten year old brother Michael were on Morgan’s ship then island, Bounty Key, but once she returned home about a third of the way into the story, boring throughout the rest of the novel. The last fifty pages or so was nothing but one ship fighting against another and I truly forced myself to finish the book. It majority was so uninteresting to me. I really feel like this historical romance turned into purely historical fiction. The only good thing I can say about this is that I love the cover.

Same review here.

 

ALYX by Lolah Burford with Author Image

PUBLISHING INFO: Signet, 1977
SETTING: Jamaica, 1790s
HEROINE: Alyx de Vere
HERO: Simon
BODICE RIPPER? No
GRADE: A
DATES READ: 1/04, 5/04, 11/06, 10/07

FROM PUBLISHER: They were enslaved in a place where lust knew no bounds-and only love was forbidden… They were two white slaves thrown together in the darkness of the breeding hut. She, Alyx de Vere, a virginal, sixteen-year-old beauty carried off to nightmare captivity on a Caribbean sugar plantation. He, Simon, handsome, young, once heir to a noble title. He felt no desire for this anonymous woman who was forced upon him. And she knew only fearful hatred for this stranger who was about to violate her youthful innocence.

But as night after night of tremulous, fevered mating passed, something forbidden grew between these two desire-damned lovers-a rapturous passion that drove them to dare any peril to free each other from this savage world of bondage and brutal submission. And it was then that Alyx and Simon swore that no power-even death itself-would ever overcome their eternal bond of flaming, all-conquering love…

MY THOUGHTS/SUMMARY: This is is the story of 27 year old Simon and 16 year old Alyx de Vere, both British. Simon was sold at auction to August, owner of a plantation in Jamaica, 10 years earlier when he was 17. This story takes place in the late 1790s in Jamaica.

Here’s how Simon ended up in Jamaica. Simon was in line to inherit his fathers estates and all that came along with it when his father was injured in a horseriding accident. Simon’s jealous uncle Phillip came up with a horrible plan; to kidnap and ship Simon off to a place far away for life so that he would be next in line to inherit his brother’s title and estate. But there was one little problem; what to do with Simon?

Simon’s father was out riding one day while Simon was away at school. His father fell off the horse as went into a coma. Uncle Phillip put his plan into action. He went to see Simon at school, told him his father was hurt and his mother sent him to come get him and bring him home. Later that night, Phillip gave Simon some drugged coffee, which made Simon sick, then he passed out. He was taken to his own room to recover.

When he awoke, he was bound and gagged. Phillip was standing beside him, he removed Simon’s gag and forced him to drink more drugged rum. Simon and Phillip then traveled by carriage. Phillip told him they were traveling ‘towards’ Simon’s father’s. The carriage was then attacked by men who kidnapped Simon for ransom, Phillip watching all the while.

Simon awoke on a bed, bound in a hut, being taken care of by some men for about a week. He was blindfolded one day, put into the floor of a carriage and covered by a rug, so as not to be seen by anyone. After traveling for awhile, the carriage stopped, multiple gunshots were fired and the men who helped Phillip with Simon were killed. Simon knew Phillip did it because he heard his voice. Phillip then forced Simon to swallow some kind of powder.

He was later put on a ship with other captives, they sailed to Jamaica and he was put on an auction block naked, examined by a man who ended up buying him. That man was Simon’s master, August. Simon was sold under the name Aston Smith.

Simon was forced to share August’s bed for five years. When Simon would resist, he’d get whipped. After five years, Simon stopped sharing August’s bed but the rapes continued. Soon after Simon stopped sharing his masters bed, he became one of four *studs*. The studs were to get the female slaves, both black and white, pregnant. After they’d gotten one pregnant, they were given a one month break. Studs were treated better than other slaves.

After being a stud for five years, Alyx arrived. She was sent to Jamaica because she’d gotten caught stealing Simon’s uncle Phillip’s horse. One of her friends dared her to do it just for fun, so she did it then got caught. She’d been there a few months when she’d been put into the breeding hut with Simon. August put those two together until Alyx got pregnant because August wanted those two to have a son that August and his wife could raise as their own, since they couldn’t have their own children.

So Simon and Alyx met in the breeding hut. That’s how the book opens. They were in total darkness every time so they couldn’t see each other at all. The reason for that is so that if they pass by each other, they won’t recognize each other and won’t know who they’re pregnant by or who has fathered whos child.

Just about every night, Simon and Alyx were put in the hut together. They talked and got to know each other. Alyx told Simon how she came to be there and Simon told her his story.

Alyx knew she was pregnant and even threw up once while they were together. She hid the dirty sheet under the bed because she knew if anyone knew she was pregnant, she wouldn’t see Simon again. After a short time, it was discovered that she was pregnant so she didn’t see Simon for a long time. Though they didn’t know what the other looked like, since they’d only been together in total darkness, Alyx recognized Simon one day while they were working. Alyx dropped her bucket of water, Simon looked at her but continued on, she whispered his name and in that moment he knew she was Alyx, since she’s the only one who knows his real name. They talked, he felt her stomach and saw that she was pregnant. They made plans to meet by the fountain later, they met and had sex and were caught by August’s wife. She wanted to have him castrated, whipped and hung. After he was whipped and was about to be hanged, August arrived and saved Simon.

They made plans to escape the plantation together. They met, Simon has his master’s keys, they met the priest who married them, then as they were boarding a ship that Simon had arranged for earlier. As they were boarding it, gunshots rang out and August and his men shot the captain and another man, and made Alyx and Simon return home. Simon was whipped 200 times.

He was then put to work in a field with a man who’d had his tongue cut out. He was also raped by the man from time to time. He then became ‘stud’ to Alyx again. They were told not to talk to each other, so they didn’t. Then he didn’t see her again for three years. One day someone came to the hut Simon lived in and told him his master wanted to see him. When he got there, August told him he’d checked out his story about being an earl and that Simon had been telling the truth. He tore up Simon’s ‘paper of purchase’, introduced him to his son and daugher, then Alyx and allowed them both to sail home to England. They were finally free; Simon, after 13 years, Alyx, after 3.

When Simon arrived at his mother’s home after a few months of sailing, she was surprised to see him but didn’t seem happy. He told her that Phillip had abducted him but she didn’t belive him. All of them then traveled to see Phillip, who was very sick and in bed. He told Phillip that he and his family was going to have to find some place to live, since they were living in Simon’s house. Neither one mentioned the kidnapping.

On the way home, a rider came up to the carriage and told Simon that his uncle wanted to see him. Simon returned alone to the house. When Simon went into the bedroom, Phillip asked Simon if he knew what Phillip had done to him and Simon said yes. Phillip said that he wasn’t sorry for what he’d done and that he’d do it all over again if he could.

Simon wrote up a statement saying that Phillip was retracting his statement about Alyx stealing his horse then got Phillip to sign it. He was going to use that to have the charges against Alyx dropped. Next, he asked Phillip if he ever wondered about him or regretted what he’d done and Phillip said ‘no’. Simon went home, told Alyx she could leave him if she wanted, since they hadn’t been getting along much during the whole voyage back home to England. She said she wanted to stay with him; that’s how the book ended.
________

What I find very interesting is the author’s note at the end of the book about who the character Simon was based on. It says, “In the eighteenth century, the Sixth Earl of Anglesey (uncle Phillip) “is notorious as having procured the kidnapping and bondage in America of his nephew, James Annesley, rightful Lord Altham”.

The girl Alyx’s character was based on was a 14 year old girl who stole a horse and was ‘condemned to transportation’ to Australia and ended up married to the ships captain.

If you want to read more about the real Simon, you can go here.

I read somewhere on the internet years ago (in an obit that I can’t find) that Lolah died in 2002. Below is an image from her, taken from the back of the hardcover edition of her book Vice Avenged (see my review). Image came from the internet.

SALLY’S BAKING ADDICTION: Irresistible Cookies, Cupcakes, and Desserts for Your Sweet-Tooth Fix by Sally McKenney

PUBLISHER: Race Point Publishing, 3/2014
GENRE: Cookbooks/Baking
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: A-

FROM PUBLISHER: Named by Huffington Post as one of the “Top 10 Food Blogs to Watch” in 2013, Sally’s Baking Addiction has skyrocketed in popularity since its inception in late 2011. Baking addict and food blogger, Sally McKenney loves to bake. Her famous Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Cookies won Nestle’s Dark Chocolate contest in 2013, and now, in her first cookbook, Sally shares her baking secrets with fans everywhere.

Try her No-Bake Peanut Butter Banana Pie, her delectable Dark Chocolate Butterscotch Cupcakes, or her yummy Marshmallow Swirl S’mores Fudge. Featuring a brand new selection of desserts and treats, the Sally’s Baking Addiction Cookbook is fully illustrated and offers 75 scrumptious recipes for indulging your sweet tooth–including a chapter of healthier dessert options for those who follow a vegan or gluten-free lifestyle. With dozens of simple, easy-to-follow recipes, you get all of the sweet with none of the fuss!

THINGS I’VE BAKED

DARK CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CAKE

This isn’t moist at all. It’s dense and very dry. This went into the trash can after eating just one piece. I made half the recipe in an 8″ square pan and it baked in 18 minutes. The toothpick came out with moist crumbs on it so I know the dryness wasn’t due to overbaking. The full recipe only has three tablespoons of milk in it. I followed the recipe and I’m convinced the lack of milk in the recipe is what ruined it. The frosting is good but that’s the only positive thing about this. I made half the frosting and used just 2 1/2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, which was about three tablespoons less than called for, and less milk. Anymore and it would have been too bitter for my liking.

PEANUT BUTTER CHUNK OATMEAL BARS
These are pretty good. They use chunky peanut butter, old fashioned oats, mini semisweet chocolate chips, milk, and a few other things. No egg. They’re not too sweet. They’re made in an 8″ square pan. I cut mine into six bars, not twelve. I didn’t make the chocolate peanut butter drizzle for the top. I think I’d like these better with creamy peanut butter instead of crunchy because the peanuts fall out when you take a piece off with the fork.

FROSTED SUGAR COOKIES

I wish you knew how good these are. I added about 3/4 teaspoon of lemon extract to the dough because I’m obsessed with lemon sugar cookies. I didn’t make frosting for these but rolled the dough balls in granulated sugar instead. I got 25 dough balls using a 1 1/2″ diameter/1 tablespoon scoop. I chilled the dough an hour, stirring once halfway, which is how long it took for the dough to be firm enough to scoop out without the dough sticking to the scoop.

These are excellent with lemon added. I baked the first batch for 10 1/2 minutes and the next batch for 11 minutes because the first batch wasn’t crunchy enough. The dough spread out nicely and produced a cookie that’s got some thickness to it. They’re crunchy on the outside and chewy, not cakey, on the inside. The bottoms are a deep golden color. I have nothing bad to say about these. This alone is truly worth the price of the book. You could roll the dough in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar too.

When I baked the last six, for some reason they didn’t spread out as much as the two other batches though they were baked on the same temperature, in the same oven, and the dough sat at room temperature for fifteen minutes like before. Go figure!

OATMEAL SCOTCHIES

Theses cookies taste very good but mine didn’t spread out much, only by about 1/2″-3/4″. I used mini semisweet chocolate chips in place of butterscotch and I omitted the cinnamon. I made just half the recipe and got 27 dough balls using a 1 1/2″ diameter/1 tablespoon scoop. They baked in 10 minutes. To the rest of the dough, I warmed it slightly in the microwave and spread each dough ball out slightly with my fingers on the cookie sheet. They baked up nicely that way and looked normal. They need more salt.

CHUNKY PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

Excellent recipe. I didn’t press down on the cookies with the tines of a fork to make the criss cross pattern before baking. The recipe uses salted butter and no added salt. I used unsalted butter and added 1/4 teaspoon of salt but they needed a bit more. I didn’t add peanuts either. The cookies are very sweet. I got 31 dough balls using a 1 1/2″ diameter/1 tablespoon scoop. I had to chill the dough for 2 1/2 hours before it was firm enough to use the scoop.

With the first batch I flattened the dough balls slightly because I was scared they wouldn’t spread out. I baked them for ten minutes. They spread out too much for my liking. I wanted the second batch crunchier so I baked for eleven minutes and I didn’t flatten them at all. The cookies were crunchy on the outside and chewy inside and they looked great.

BROWN SUGAR MARBLE POUND CAKE

This is very, very moist. It’s made with vegetable oil and equal parts sugar and brown sugar. It tastes a bit off and I can’t taste the chocolate much. I made my own chocolate frosting for it. I made half the recipe in a 1 qt. loaf pan. It baked in 53 minutes. I also doubled the salt to 1/4 teaspoon but it’s not enough. I also used less vanilla extract. I wouldn’t make this again. It looks good but doesn’t taste so great.

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE MUFFINS

These muffins are made with vegetable oil, yogurt, and cocoa powder and require no mixer, just a large bowl and spoon. I made half the recipe and got nine standard size muffins using a 1/4 c. measuring cup to measure out the batter for each. I used muffin liners and the muffins didn’t stick to them at all when I peeled them off.

I didn’t bake these at a very high temperature for five minutes then lower the temperature like I was supposed to do. I just baked them on 350 degrees F for 18 minutes. They’re very moist and not too sweet. I did add vanilla extract though the recipe called for none. I used mini semisweet chocolate chips. These needed a pinch more salt. I love the way they look, with the cracks on top and I would definitely make these again.

MY THOUGHS: This is a very nice hardcover book that has a photo of every recipe but not always one of the finished product, with the oatmeal scotchies being an example of that. At the time of this review I’ve made seven recipes. All but two of them turned out good. The sugar cookies and peanut butter cookies are truly great recipes with the sugar cookies being the most versatile since you can add anything to the dough- nuts, chocolate chips, dried fruit, ect. There’s a great variety of flavors too, like peanut butter, apple, chocolate, caramel.

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

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