Monday, March 29, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Scarborough Shortbread-Impossible by Nancy Werlin

The ingredients that I wanted to use in a recipe with Impossible by Nancy Werlin were very easy to come up with. Her book is based on the song “Scarborough Fair” popularized by Simon and Garfunkel.

“Are you going to Scarborough Fair? Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.” This shortbread recipe is super-easy and sweet with just a hint of the aromatic herbs.

Scarborough Shortbread

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup and 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon each finely chopped fresh sage, rosemary, and thyme
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.

Stir together flour, 1/4 cup sugar, salt, and chopped herbs in a bowl, then add butter and stir with a fork until mixture forms a dough. Divide dough in half and pat each half into a 6 1/2- to 7-inch round on an ungreased baking sheet. Crimp edges of rounds and cut each into 8 wedges with a knife. Brush with egg white and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 tablespoon sugar. Prick each wedge once with a fork.

Bake until golden, 15 to 17 minutes. Recut wedges while shortbread is hot, then cool completely on sheet.

Tasty Tuesday goes viral!

Welcome to the very first Tasty Tuesday in which you, the book reviewer get to "cook" up some creativity to go along with your recent book review.  This is a great way to meet fellow bloggers, network and get great recipes too.  I'm always surprised how creative people can be.  Thanks to Enbrethiliel over at ShreddedCheddar for giving me a push to start this and for creating the badge!  Here's how it works:

  • Grab your latest book review (or current read) and come up with a great recipe that has something to do with the characters, setting, items, etc in that book.  For examples, see any of my Tasty Tuesday posts. 

  • You can post your recipe and book on your blog if you want to, or just leave a creative idea in the comments below(you can make the recipe and post a pic too, but not required).  Feel free to grab the above badge and put it on your post(just right click and save the badge).

  • Add yourself to the McLinky.  Please try to visit at least a few other blogs that are listed. 

  • Use the following format to add yourself to the McLinky:  Blog title(Book and author)recipe

    • example- Dearest Dreams(Impossible by Nancy Werlin)Scarborough Chicken 
If you start following someone on Tasty Tuesday, let them know in the comments.  Happy cooking!

Impossible by Nancy Werlin

“Are you going to Scarborough Fair…” The folk song popularized by Simon and Garfunkel is the catalyst for Nancy Werlin’s Impossible. This contemporary young adult novel caught my eye when I read that it was based on an English myth. Werlin’s careful treatment of such sensitive subjects as date rape, teen pregnancy and mental illness are expertly interwoven with the timeless theme of love conquers all.

Food to eat while reading: Scarborough Shortbread
Read the synopsis here.
The author found the premise of her story when she researched the folk song and found that it was based on an English myth which told of a woman who does battle with an elvin knight.  The story really took off for Nancy when she realized that she could create a heart-throbbing hero who could still be a “good guy”.

What I Liked:

I just love the fact that this book is crafted around a song that I grew up singing, and not only that, it’s a romance for young adults, and it’s a fantasy. What a delicious combination!

Nancy introduces some weighty teen issues in the novel. I am impressed with the sensitive manner in which the author addresses the character’s conflicts.

With all of the bad-boy heroes we see in young adult fiction, I am so happy to fall in love with a good-boy that teens can actually use as a basis for finding their own real-life love. Zach is the boy from next door whom Lucy has known since childhood. He loves her fiercely and fights for her with a loyalty worthy of any girl’s adoration.

One of the themes centers on the idea that love is powerful. In the book love actually is a power, one that can overcome manipulative magic. How true it is that, even in real life, love is a power worth fighting for. 

I love Lucy's foster parents and the loyalty and togetherness they, along with Zach, have as a mis-matched jumbled up family. 

What I would have changed:

Even though the book is intended for teens ages 12 and older, the content is more appropriate for older teens. I would recommend reading and discussing this book with your teen.

I am thin-skinned when it comes to such issues as rape and sexuality in the books that I read. Because of this, I will often put a book down in the middle and leave it. I mention this only because I want others who read the book to know of the sensitive issues that are involved. I will say that the author dealt with the issues tastefully and I never felt the need to quit reading the book.

Because I love fantasy, I wanted to see more of the fantastic. At times the book felt like two separate stories, the elvin knight vs. the maiden and the contemporary Lucy. At the end of the book Lucy wonders what else might be out there and where magic might be found. I felt that this was an easy way for the author to skirt around an explanation of the mythical world of the elvin knight.

A few things were unbelievable for me. I couldn’t believe that Lucy recovered from an early incident as quickly and completely as she did, and I didn’t buy the fact that her family accepted so readily that she was under a curse.

I wish Lucy would have focused more on her love for Zach as the book progressed. I just wasn’t convinced that he was her “true love”. Her love for him should have become so fierce that the climax should have torn me to pieces.

I gave this book 4/5 stars.

Find out more at Nancy's website

Check out the book trailer:

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy.

Publisher: August 6th 2009 by Speak (first published 2008),

Paperback, 365 pages

Where I got the book: Barnes and Noble store

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday-Blog Hop Time!

Jennifer at Crazy For Books has a great thing going on. Check out  Her Book Blogger Hop is a great way to network with other book bloggers.  Sign up on her McLinky list and don't forget to check out at least a few of the blogs that are listed there.  Please let me know if you found me through the Blog Hop!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Join a Book Review Blog Hop

Jennifer over at Crazy-for-books is hosting a Blog Blogger Hop

A blog hop is a great way to network with other book bloggers and make friends.  In short, you add your blog to a list of like-minded bloggers.  Then take a gander at a few of the blogs that have been posted.  Go ahead, try it, it will be fun!

If you found my blog through the Book Blogger Hop, leave me a comment and a link to your blog and I will visit your blog too!

Tasty Tuesday-7 Day Layer Dip

At first I wanted to do death by chocolate and provide a copycat recipe for the Coldstone Creamery ice cream that Sam gets everyday in Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver.  But, then I figured that was cheating. 

So here we have: 7 Day Layer Dip.  One yummy layer for each chance that Sam had to make things right.

1 can of refried beans
1 pkg. taco mix with 1/2 cup lowfat sour cream
2 avocados, peeled and mashed with 1 tbsp. lemon juice
3 oz. cheddar cheese
4-5 stalks green onion, chopped
2-3 tomatoes, diced
1 sm. can chopped black olives

Spread beans in a 9x13 inch pan. Over beans, layer taco mix, avocado mix, cheese, onions, tomatoes, and black olives. Refrigerate. Serve with taco chips. Servings: 6

Monday, March 22, 2010

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

“What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all—looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12th should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it’s her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. In fact, she re-lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she had ever imagined.”

Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver is different from any book you’ve read. Instead of watching a character change over time, you experience the change that Sam undergoes as she is allowed to live the same day again, seven times.

What I loved:

You may be tempted to think that this book is too much like the movie “Groundhog Day.” Don’t let the repetitive nature of the book turn you away. I never once got tired of re-living Sam’s day in the book.

Don’t you love the cover? The youthfulness of the model pictured and the gravity in her eyes drew me to the book, I had to read it.

Before I Fall is Lauren Oliver’s debut book. Her authentic teen voice is realistic; you can picture the teenagers and it’s hard to believe that her characters are fictional.

The premise of being allowed a re-do holds great appeal. I think we all love the idea of being able to go back and re-live a day in our lives, may it be a perfectly happy day to enjoy again, or a day of regret that could be redeemed.

The complexity of this story blows me away. In interviews, the author said that she used an extensive timeline to keep track of the story. She earned my trust in the first do over. Even events that had seemed insignificant in the first day were addressed in each chance that Sam got to change the outcome of her day.

The analogy that a migrating group of butterflies can cause a rainstorm in Brazil captures the theme of connectivity. Even the smallest action you take can cause an unforeseen reaction. Oliver pointedly shows that we are all connected and that we can’t always control whether the results of our actions are positive or negative. Lauren Oliver commented on the connective theme in an interview: “People are connected; lives are intertwined, whether you know it or not, and the deeper your recognition of your connection to other people, the more meaningful and happy your life will be. So that is the message I would hope teens (and anyone who reads the book) would be able to carry with them.”

Redemption is another theme that Oliver successfully addressed in the novel. She explores the question, is it possible to redeem yourself from the regretful things you do, be they intentional or not? What happens when you make a change for the better?

I loved the loyalty that Sam had to her friends, especially to Lindsay.

Quotes from the book that touched me:

“I hate both of my parents right now…for letting the thread between us stretch so far and so thin that the moment it was severed for good they didn’t even feel it.”

“You keep drawing a line farther and farther away, crossing it every time. That’s how people end up stepping off the edge of the earth. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to bust out of orbit, to spin out to a place where no one can touch you.”

What I would have changed:

It took me awhile to keep the characters straight, especially in the first chapter. I had to keep flipping back to see who was who. I can understand why Oliver had to introduce all of the characters so quickly, given the nature of the story, but it was a distraction for me.

I had a hard time relating to Sam for most of the book, probably because my high school experience was so different than what she went through.

I know from reading interviews from Lauren Oliver that she hates it when people comment on the amount of drinking and sex in the book. But I have to say that there was too much drinking and promiscuity for my taste. Some will think of me as prudish for saying so, but I think that writers of YA have a responsibility to promote positive behavior. Before you judge me as being too judgmental, hear me out. I can understand and appreciate it when authors represent true to life situations, and I know that there are teen issues that can be successfully dealt with in book format. But showing irresponsible behavior with no negative consequences can give impressionable teens the wrong idea. It does not bother me that the girls in this book were drinking and promiscuous. What does bother me is that the book gave the impression that this was the way that a popular person acts and gave no repercussions. Though Sam changed drastically from the person she was at the beginning of the book, I was left believing that her views on drinking and immorality were not among the changes that her experience had wrought in her.

I gave this book 3/5 stars.

Find out more at Lauren's website
Check out the book trailer:

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Paranormal.
Publisher: March 2nd 2010 by HarperCollins, Hardcover, 470 pages
Where I got the book: Amazon

Food to eat while reading: 7 Layer Mexican Dip

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tasty Tuesday-Frozen Hot Chocolate

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (pronounced "steve-otter") inspired all kinds of tasty frozen treats.  This recipe for frozen hot chocolate tastes like a gourmet Frosty(you know-from Wendy's restaurant).  I think it fits: the dessert is icy cold like the milieu of Shiver, but has a hot premise, like the book.  Enjoy! 
Frozen Hot Chocolate

6 pieces (1/2-ounce) chocolate (I used Dove dark chocolate)
2 teaspoons store-bought hot chocolate mix (I used Steven's Gourmet Hot Cocoa)
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
3 cups ice
Whipped cream (I used lite cool whip, I think it will cancel out the rest of the calories)
Chocolate shavings


Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Place it in the top of a double boiler over simmering water (I melted this in the microwave instead.  It turned out ok, but a little grainy). Stir occasionally until melted. Add the hot chocolate mix and sugar. Stir until completely melted. Remove from heat and slowly add ½ cup of milk until smooth. Cool to room temperature.

In a blender, place the remaining cup of milk, the room-temperature chocolate mixture and the ice. Blend on high speed until smooth and the consistency of a frozen daiquiri. Pour into a giant goblet and top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater is a delicious read, the perfect blend of fantasy and realism. The prose ebbs and flows with the emotions of the characters until it reads like carefully crafted poetry.

Maggie not only expresses herself well through the written words, but she is a musician and an artist as well. Check out the book trailer she composed and created here.

Grace spends her winters watching her backyard for the yellow-eyed wolf who rescued her from his pack when she was a child. The connection is mutual; the wolf keeps watch over her from the edge of the forest. Grace feels a strange longing to be with the wolves.

When a tragic accident occurs and a boy from Grace’s high school is killed by wolves, the town erupts in anger and threatens the pack. Grace rescues Sam and she senses a connection that is more than the similarity of his wolf-like yellow eyes. Could this boy be her beloved wolf?

Sam has little time left to spend with Grace. Winter is creeping closer and with the cold he could lose his humanity, and Grace, forever.

Suspense is high as Grace and Sam battle issues of neglect and betrayal as they race to find a cure that will keep them together. Questions loom in the background of the story. Why did Grace escape transformation when she was bitten, as a child? What will happen to Sam’s wolf family if he leaves? How can they deal with the disregard and abandon from their parents? And the largest question of them all: will they be able to find a way to stay together?

What I loved:

I have to say that I was taken in by the striking cover. The chilling winter milieu and cutting emotions of the story are reflected in the stark cutouts on the cover. Even the print inside the book is a frosty grey.

Shiver is the perfect contemporary fantasy. The relatability of the characters brings the fantasy into our lives and leaves us asking if the story really happened. I love that the story is told from both Grace and Sam’s point of view. The dual view gives us a full view of what is as stake and allows us to feel the depth of the characters.

Sam is a quiet book-lover, heart-breakingly vulnerable and courageous. Grace is intelligent and willing to take action. The two make a compelling and believable couple, one that I can’t wait to read more about. It is easy to fall in love with Sam and get caught up in their longing for each other.

I love that I don’t think of the creatures as werewolves, but simply as wolves. That sets this book apart from the flood of vampire and werewolf novels on the market.

The brother/sister relationship between Isabel and Jack added depth and clarity to the theme of betrayal in the novel. I was surprised by the developments that happened between the siblings and Grace & Sam.

What I would have changed:

It was hard for me to relate to Grace at first. I did not understand why she would obsess over a wolf in her backyard. Her parents were neglectful and distant, so I suppose that she found comfort in the wolf, but it took me awhile to warm up to Grace.

I would have enjoyed spending more time with the build-up of Grace and Sam’s relationship. It seemed to me that we only got to catch a glimpse of the bond they share before they were torn by external forces.

I give Shiver a five star rating because it has just the right amount of romance, woven in with truths that left me thinking about the book long after I read the last page.

Shiver is followed by Linger, book number two in the “Wolves of Mercy Falls” series and will be released on July 20, 2010. The last book in the trilogy, titled Forever, is slated for release in July 2011.

Find out more at Maggie's website

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble


Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy.

Publisher: August 1st 2009 by Scholastic Press, Hardcover, 392 pages, ISBN 0545123267

Where I got the book: Library

Food to eat while reading: Frozen Hot Chocolate

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tasty Tuesday-Wings

Today is the first ever Tasty Tuesday at Dearest Dreams.  Every Tuesday I will treat you to a tasty recipe that is related to a book I have been reading. 
My featured book this week is Wings by Aprilynne Pike
Buy, borrow or grab a copy and sit down to eat some "Winging it Divinity".  I have to warn you, though I love to cook, I have never been candy savy.  I like to add about a cup here and a few pinches there and candy is not as forgiving as a pot of chili.  So here's my first attempt at divinity.  It turned out pretty darn good, even though I was "winging it".

Winging It Divinity

2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional) or cherries (optional)


1.  In a 2 quart saucepan combine sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt.
2.  Cook to hardball stage, (260 degrees), stirring only until sugar dissolves.
3.  Meanwhile, as temperature of syrup reaches 250 degrees, beat egg white till stiff peaks form.
4.  When syrup reaches 260 degrees, very gradually add the syrup to egg whites, beating at high speed with electric mixer.
5.  Add vanilla (I also added purple food coloring) and beat until candy holds its shape, 4-5 minutes.
6.  Stir in the chopped nuts or cherries, if desired.
7.  Quickly drop candy from a teaspoon onto waxed paper, swirling the top of each piece.
8.  Let cool.
Makes 40 pieces.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Wings by Aprilynne Pike

Wings by Aprilynne Pike is not your standard fairy tale. This YA fantasy is a twist on the traditional views of fairy folk.

I was attracted to this book because it's in the same genre and category that I like to write in.

The book started right into Laurel's life and we encounter David (love interest #1) on the second page. From there we travel with Laurel through the life-changing discoveries that about herself and her family.
The author has an easy reading style and I found myself wanting to pick the book up and read whenever I got a chance.

I have to say that Tamani (love interest #2) held very little appeal to me. I just couldn't get over the whole leprechan image that he conjured up in my mind. Because of that, the love triangle held little angst for me.

Being a big fan of Celtic mythology, I was intrigued with Laurel's background and the history of her people. The treatment of the mythology in this book didn't feel authentic. The use of King Arthur and the City of Avalon, were a bit corny for my tastes. I am expecting book 2 to explain more of her heritage.

Overall, I gave the book four stars. The premise was original, the characters felt alive and I did think about the book while I went about my day.

Wings by Aprilynne Pike

Find out more at Aprilynne's website
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult.
Publisher: May 1st 2009 by HarperTeen, Hardcover, 294 pages, ISBN 0061668036
Where I got the book: Library (I'm going to get my own copy, though)
Food to eat while reading: Winging it Divinity


Welcome Fellow Book Junkies!  

I am so thrilled to start a book review blog.  Have you ever, in hind-sight, wondered why you didn't do something that feels so natural now that you've begun it?  Blogging about books feels that way to me.

I have a need to read everything in sight, and to share what I've read and connect with other readers and authors.  What better way than to blog about my adventures?

I hope you'll tag along...