Monday, 28 May 2012

Rhubarb-Buttermilk Tea Cake

Oh. My. Goodness. I cannot understand why I haven't been introduced to this cake before! It's really amazing. I've never had rhubarb before (that I can recall) but my mom brought some home from school the other day and I thought I'd try out this recipe I found in Chatelaine. Last night my dad cooked some rhubarb and we had it with ice cream. Suffice it to say that it was one of the best things I've ever had. And I've eaten a lot of good food before. Anyway, I thought I would share my results with you in picture form.

A peek inside the oven reveals . . . a cake browning wonderfully!

The glaze. 1 cup icing sugar + 6 teaspoons lemon juice

The unglazed cake. Looks pretty good!

Glazed cake.

The recipe from last month's Chatelaine magazine.

Another picture of the glazed cake. The glaze has had a bit more time to dry.

A big gooey mess! It tasted AMAZING. The only thing was that I forgot to add the 1/4 teaspoon salt, and I think this gooey mess might have something to do with it . . . It still tasted great though, so I'm not complaining.

Quote of the day: I think it's good for a person to spend time alone. It gives them an opportunity to discover who they are and to figure out why they are always alone. - Amy Sedaris

P.S. Don't forget to enter my giveaway! I'm giving away Graceling by Kristin Cashore and The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, along with four bookmarks. 

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Destined by Aprilynne Pike

From Amazon:

Tamani looked at her gravely, and reached up to tuck her hair behind her ear. He hesitated an instant, then his hands found the sides of her face, pulling her to him. He didn't kiss her, just held her face close to his, their foreheads resting together, their noses almost touching. She hated how much it felt like good-bye.
Laurel now knows the truth: Yuki is a rare Winter faerie, the most powerful---and deadly---of all, and Klea plans to use her to help conquer and destroy Avalon. But Klea's reach extends far beyond one wild Winter faerie. With Tamani, David, and Chelsea by her side, Laurel prepares to face what may be Avalon's final days, in the stunning conclusion to the Wings series.

Fabulous. That is all I have to say. This book kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time I read it. Everything was really well done and I can't complain about a thing. That's how good this book is. Yeah, I know. Laurel has really matured throughout the series, Wings being the first book, Spells the second, Illusions the third, and Destined the fourth. She seemed so young at the beginning of the series and it's great to see her grow up. Destined essentially takes place right after Illusions ends and covers approximately twenty-four hours. There was something happening every moment and the suspense was killing me whenever I had to stop. This book is action-packed. There was literally never a dull moment. Even when the action died down, something was still happening that kept me on the edge. It was thrilling! I felt as though I was reading a Dan Brown book, except this one wasn't a mystery. I kept thinking back to everything that happened in the series when I found out who the bad guy was and what they had been doing. Everything finally seemed to make sense! Now I'm going to inject a *spoiler alert* right here before I continue. If you haven't read Destined, or Illusions then this will probably spoil something for you, although it's not a very big spoiler. My only problem with this book was that they kept saying Klea was a Fall Faerie, but I don't remember it ever saying when they discovered this. Maybe I just don't remember when it did or I accidentally passed over it, but I don't ever remember there a moment when someone said "By the way, Klea is a Fall Faerie." "Oh my gosh no way!!!" It was just kind of dumped into the middle of things and was brought up several times. Ok, *spoiler alert* OVER. The ending was really well done too. I was really pleased with who she ended up with, as well as the extra letter that was contained in the back on the book. It was really nice to see where everyone was in the future. I always wonder what happens to characters after a series or book ends. Is that just me? My overall conclusion is that this book is awesome, as is the entire series. I would highly recommend this to any teenager with a love of fantasy and faeries. I'll probably end up re-reading this whole series when I have the chance.

Quote of the day: "I've loved you for a long time," she said. "But there was always something holding me back. Maybe it was that I was afraid of an emotion that was so consuming. It still frightens me," she admitted in a whisper. - Aprilynne Pike, Destined

P.S. Don't forget to enter my giveaway! I'm giving away Graceling by Kristin Cashore, The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien and four bookmarks.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

From the website:

Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is queen of a kingdom that was under the spell of a madman for thirty-five years. At eighteen, Bitterblue is still learning how to rule the kingdom. The influence of Leck-a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities-lives on. When Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the cast;e to walk the streets of her own city, she meets two thieves who hold a key to the truth of Leck's reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace, holds the key to her heart.

I loved this book. I've always loved Kristin's books, but this one has made me love them even more. I started with her first book, Graceling, and then read Fire, and now Bitterblue. This book was actually a lot bigger than I thought. At 563 pages, it is the largest book in the series. I didn't mind this since I find that usually the larger the book, the better it is (in my opinion). The beginning was really well done and set the scene. Kristin set up Bitterblue City really well as well as the state of Monsea. This certainly took a fair bit of time but, again, I didn't mind. I've read Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and no one can out describe him. While everything was being described, events were happening that were pushing the plot forward so that it never really stood still. Bitterblue was a wonderful character. Seeing how she had changed from the ten-year-old in Graceling to the queen she is in this novel was exciting. She had matured, and she showed it. I also liked that she questioned things; she didn't just sit around and accept things. I think those are the best characters, the ones that don't take anything for granted. That is an especially good characteristic in a ruler, I think. The love story was cute. I was expecting it (since there is a love story in all of Kristin's books) and it happened gradually, just like all the other love stories. I was not expecting to see characters from Fire (I won't name who) and that was a pleasant surprise. It was also good to see characters from Graceling again and where they were in their lives. The plot twist at the end was very unexpected. Looking back on it, there were clues throughout the story and if you picked up on it then you could see it coming. After the death of one character I definitely became suspicious of all the royal authorities. I liked how the story ended. It was very nice and had good closure. The end of the love story was nice too (although I'm sure it didn't actually end, if you know what I mean). Everything came to an end, there were no loose ends, and as the reader gained closure, so too did Bitterblue. The pace of this book was great. It wasn't super fast, but it wasn't slow either, which is always a problem with larger books. Characters were well fleshed and rounded, I found no plot holes, and it all seemed very realistic (minus the whole Graceling thing, and seven kingdoms, and monsters, and . . . I think you get it). This will definitely be a re-read sometime in the future.

Quote of the day: Bacon improved things dramatically. - Kristin Cashore, Bitterblue

P.S. Don't forget to enter my giveaway! I'm giving away Graceling, the first book in this series, along with a few other things. 

Monday, 14 May 2012

Random Act of Kindness BLITZ!

Happy monday everyone. Each day people interact with us, help, and make our day a bit brighter and full. This is especially true in the Writing Community. Take a second to think about writers you know, like the critique partner who works with you to improve your manuscript. The writing friend who listens, supports and keeps you strong when times are tough. The author who generously offers council, advice and inspiration when asked. So many people take the time to make us feel special, don't they? They comment on our blogs, re-tweet our posts, chat with us on forums and wish us Happy Birthday on Facebook.

Kindness ROCKS!
To commemorate the release of their book The Emotion Thesaurus, Becca and Angela at The Bookshelf Muse are hosting a TITANIC Random Act Of Kindness BLITZ. And because I think KINDNESS is contagious, I'm participating too!

I am Blitzing TWO authors because they both have had a huge impact on my writing: J. R. R. Tolkien and Kristin Cashore. Although Tolkien has passed on he has still had a huge influence on the writerly world and an ENORMOUS impact on my writing. The way he wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and the various themes are important to me. I'm happy to know that there are novels out there that aren't solely dedicated to love. There are books about friendship, struggle, generic good vs. evil. They may be simple themes, but I find they are the easiest to relate to. Tolkien, for my ROAK gift, I'm offering to review not just The Hobbit in time for the movie being released this December, but also both Hobbit movies in relation to the novel. I really appreciate his writing and although there is no Tolkien blog that is non-fan based, there is a website here. If you have a minute, stop by and look around! There are so many books he wrote that have gone completely unnoticed because of his Lord of the Rings legacy. Kristin Cashore is very much alive. I love how her novels are about powerful women who don't depend on men and are not stereotypical at all. It's refreshing to read about women who don't need a man to be happy. Kristin, for my RAOK gift, I'm offering to review Bitterblue for you and/or critique any future work! I really appreciate Kristin's work, who does have a blog here. I would greatly appreciate it if you could stop in and tell her how awesome she is!

Do you know someone special that you'd like to randomly acknowledge? Don't be shy--come join us and celebrate! Send them an email, give them a shout out, or show your appreciation in another way. Kindness makes the world go round. :)
Becca and Angela have a special RAOK gift waiting for you as well, so hop on over to The Bookshelf Muse to pick it up.

Have you ever participated in or been the recipient of a Random Act Of Kindness?  Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Catching Up

I feel really bad about my lack of blogging. I don't even have anything preventing me from blogging, I just have nothing to blog about. Honestly, my life is so blah right now. I've been catching up on my shows, watching movies I haven't seen in a while, and attempting to get the Wii upstairs so I can play Zelda. I've been trying to write more also. Recently I haven't been feeling very motivated to write, but today I sat myself down and forced myself to write. Even if it doesn't turn out well, at least the story is moving forward. It's my goal to have a first draft done by the end of the summer. I've been hitting the gym every morning because I have the time to. I baked a lemon poppyseed loaf and it turned out pretty well. I think I'm going to bake it again, along with some other recipes. I can post the recipes and results on here. That's pretty much everything in my life right now. I finished my exams three weeks ago, which is pretty surreal. I now have four months to work, write, read, cook, relax, clean, and do whatever else I want. I'm trying to read all of my Tolkien books by the end of the summer so that when December comes around and The Hobbit comes out I'll be way ahead of the game.

Quote of the day: I'm not young enough to know everything. - J. M. Barrie