Book Reviews, Lists, Discussions, and Displays

Tag: Baking (Page 1 of 2)

Book Review: How Sweet It Is

How Sweet It Is – Robin Lee Hatcher – Legacy of Faith #3 – Thomas Nelson – Published 14 July 2020

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Synopsis

Holly Stanford is doing the best she can with the restaurant she inherited from her late uncle. But after her fiancé abandons her and the business, Holly regrets having given up her dream of becoming a pastry chef. Now a few bad financial decisions might cost her everything, including her hope for the future.

Jed Henning has done well with his new company despite his prodigal brother’s behavior. When Jed‘s father , the controlling member of the board of directors, temporarily suspends operations until his sons work out their differences, Jed resentfully chases his brother, Chris, to Boise. There Jed rents a basement apartment from Holly and hopes to convince Chris to get his act together before their company collapses.

Unaware that Holly is the one person who can help him get through to Chris, Jed starts the tough work of reconciliation armed with little more than a few family photographs, a stack of old letters, and a Bible that belonged to his great-grandfather, Andrew Henning. And as romance blossoms between Holly and Jed, the story of Jed’s great-grandfather highlights the power of God across the generations and the legacy of a family’s courageous faith.

My thoughts

How Sweet It Is is the very sweet third book in the Legacy of Faith series. Like its predecessors, it combines the present day story of two people meeting and falling in love with the continuation of the story of the Henning family, set in the late 1960s. It is faith filled and an endearing tale of family, belonging and love.

Holly just wants to bake. Instead she has been left with a restaurant to run and crippling debt, thanks to a fiancé who left her just before their wedding. Jed is a successful businessman but is father has given him an ultimatum: make it right with his brother or sell the business. Jed travels to Idaho to try to reconnect with his brother and his family’s past and finds himself renting the same basement apartment his great grandfather, Andrew Henning, once lived in. For Holly, it’s a blessing to be able to finally rent the apartment and gain some much needed income. But she is drawn to Jed and isn’t sure she should trust herself to be in a relationship again.

There is no doubt that this is Christian Fiction. The faith, prayer, scripture, church, community and belief is evident in every chapter. Some Christian fiction doesn’t reference faith aside from a few prayers or themes, but not so in this book. Both the present day characters and the characters from the past rely heavily on God and reflect and want to grow in their faith.

Andrew Henning’s story, set in 1969, is a wonderful reflection of the modern day love story. I love how Hatcher has woven the threads of the two generations together, as she has done in the previous two novels in this series. Readers of the first two books will no doubt enjoy the continuation of Andrew Henning’s story, but new comers to the series should be able to follow along without too much confusion.

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Book Review: What I Like About You

What I Like About You – Marisa Kanter – Simon and Schuster – Published 7 April 2020

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Synopsis

There are a million things that Halle Levitt likes about her online best friend, Nash.

He’s an incredibly talented graphic novelist. He loves books almost as much as she does. And she never has to deal with the awkwardness of seeing him in real life. They can talk about anything…

Except who she really is.

Because online, Halle isn’t Halle—she’s Kels, the enigmatically cool creator of One True Pastry, a YA book blog that pairs epic custom cupcakes with covers and reviews. Kels has everything Halle doesn’t: friends, a growing platform, tons of confidence, and Nash.

That is, until Halle arrives to spend senior year in Gramps’s small town and finds herself face-to-face with real, human, not-behind-a-screen Nash. Nash, who is somehow everywhere she goes—in her classes, at the bakery, even at synagogue.

Nash who has no idea she’s actually Kels.

If Halle tells him who she is, it will ruin the non-awkward magic of their digital friendship. Not telling him though, means it can never be anything more. Because while she starts to fall for Nash as Halle…he’s in love with Kels.

My thoughts

What I Like About You is about blogging, a love triangle with only two people, online relationships and friendships, books, cupcakes and more books. It’s also about family, growing up and learning to be a better friend. This reads like a great teen novel. The characters have realistic teen voices, from their integrated use of social media and text speech, to facing the problems of finishing high school. It’s a fun, lighthearted book.

Halle Levitt is better known to her many online followers as Kels, book reviewer, blogger and cupcake baker. When she and her brother move in with their grandfather while their parents go overseas for work, she doesn’t expect to come face-to-face with her online (and overall, let’s be honest) best friend, Nash. Shocked, she doesn’t tell him who she is, just introduces herself as Halle. As she gets to know Nash in real life, becomes friends with his friends and maybe even fall in love with him, it becomes harder for Halle to know how she is going to reveal that she and Kels are the same person.

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Book Review: Tweet Cute

Tweet Cute – Emma Lord – Wednesday Books- Published 21 January 2020

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Synopsis

Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.

All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.

My thoughts

Tweet Cute is seriously cute. But not in a cringey, saccharine way. It is one of the most genuine, adorable but realistic and heartfelt and, yes, cute books I’ve read in ages-maybe ever. It’s a story about social media, a story about family and the ways in which we fight for them. A story about growing up and trying to decide what to do with your life. It’s a story about the most incredible baking and comfort food. Seriously. Pack snacks. And it’s a story about falling in love, and YA contemporary readers are sure to fall in love with this delightful book.

Pepper is in control of her life. Swim team captain, top grades, and a place amongst the genius students of her fancy New York high school. So what if she feels like she doesn’t really belong, would rather have her family whole again and be living in Nashville, and maybe even have some genuine friends. When her mother insists that she take over their company’s Twitter feed as they launch new stores around the country, Pepper doesn’t expect to have one of her tweets directly challenge a local family-owned deli or for her to have to go head to head with a fellow classmate as he seeks to defend his family’s deli. As Pepper and Jack wage war on Twitter, their paths keep crossing in real life.

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Book Review: A Constellation of Roses

A Constellation of Roses – Miranda Asebedo – HarperTeen – Published 5 November 2019

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Synopsis

Ever since her mother walked out, Trix McCabe has been determined to make it on her own. And with her near-magical gift for pulling valuables off unsuspecting strangers, Trix is confident she has what it takes to survive. Until she’s caught and given a choice: jail time, or go live with her long-lost family in the tiny town of Rocksaw, Kansas.

Trix doesn’t plan to stick around Rocksaw long, but there’s something special about her McCabe relatives that she is drawn to. Her aunt, Mia, bakes pies that seem to cure all ills. Her cousin, Ember, can tell a person’s deepest secret with the touch of a hand. And Trix’s great-aunt takes one look at Trix’s palm and tells her that if she doesn’t put down roots somewhere, she won’t have a future anywhere.

Before long, Trix feels like she might finally belong with this special group of women in this tiny town in Kansas. But when her past comes back to haunt her, she’ll have to decide whether to take a chance on this new life . . . or keep running from the one she’s always known.

My thoughts

A Constellation of Roses is a poignant novel about finding your family and a place to belong. With just a touch of magic, this is a realistic novel that is magical in every other way – from the magic of the scent of good baking, to the love and acceptance of family.

Trix has a gift. She can steal anything without being caught. It helps her to survive, especially since her mother left her and never came back. Living week-to-week in run-down motels, Trix is shocked when the police and then the foster system catch up with her. But nothing can prepare her for being told she has a family, that she has an aunt that she will be going to live with. The McCabe women, Trix’s Aunt, cousin and Great Aunt all have gifts, and for once, Trix may finally have found somewhere she could belong — if she can stop herself from running.

Trix is such an awesome character. So strong and brave, yet so heartbroken underneath all that bluster and confidence. I loved that Trix is a good friend. Loved that she is there for people, even if she doesn’t feel like she belongs. Loved that she makes good decisions and is smart and kind, even if she thinks she is not.

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Book Review: More Than Words Can Say

More Than Words Can Say – Karen Witemeyer – Patchwork Family #2 – Bethany House Publishers – Published 4 June 2019

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Synopsis

After being railroaded by the city council, Abby needs a mans name on her bakery’s deed, and a man she can control, not the stoic lumberman Zacharias who always seems to exude silent confidence. She cant even control her pulse when she’s around him. But as trust grows between them, she finds she wants more than his rescue. She wants his heart.

My thoughts

I adore Karen Witemeyer’s writing and More Than Words Can Say exceeded all my expectations. Funny, sweet and deliciously romantic, this story of resilience, family and love was wonderful from beginning to end.

Abigail will do anything to save her bakery and the livelihood of both her sister and herself – even if it means a marriage of convenience to satisfy the backwards ruling of the town council. When Abby asks Zach Hamilton – lumberjack, brooding type and overly handsome – to marry her she isn’t surprised when he initially turns her down. Even more surprised when he later agrees to her business-partner-based marriage. But as threats to the newly formed family arise, Abby and Zach will have to decide if building their marriage is worth revealing the secrets of the past.

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Book Review: Summer of a Thousand Pies

Summer of a Thousand Pies – Margaret Dilloway – Balzer+Bray – Published 16 April 2019

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Synopsis

When twelve-year-old Cady Bennett is sent to live with the aunt she didn’t even know she had in the quaint mountain town of Julian, she doesn’t know what to expect. Cady isn’t used to stability, or even living inside, after growing up homeless in San Diego with her dad.

Now she’s staying in her mother’s old room, exploring the countryside filled with apple orchards and pie shops, making friends, and working in Aunt Shell’s own pie shop—and soon, Cady starts to feel like she belongs. Then she finds out that Aunt Shell’s pie shop is failing. Saving the business and protecting the first place she’s ever really felt safe will take everything she’s learned and the help of all her new friends. But are there some things even the perfect pie just can’t fix?

My thoughts

Summer of a Thousand Pies is a sweet middle-grade contemporary novel. A story about family and belonging, set amongst the backdrop of food, glorious food, Summer of a Thousand Pies touches on some deep and troubling themes such as homelessness, financial hardship, and the constant fear and struggle to belong faced by illegal immigrants. With diverse characters and a strong -if a little too headstrong at times- lead characters, Summer of a Thousand Pies is sure to delight young readers.

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Book Review: Brunch At Bittersweet Cafe

Brunch At Bittersweet Cafe – Carla Laureano – Supper Club #2 – Tyndale House Publishers – Published 5 February 2019

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Synopsis

Baker and pastry chef Melody Johansson has always believed in finding the positive in every situation, but seven years after she moved to Denver, she can’t deny that she’s stuck in a rut. One relationship after another has ended in disaster, and her classical French training is being wasted on her night job in a mediocre chain bakery. Then the charming and handsome private pilot Justin Keller lands on the doorstep of her workplace in a snowstorm, and Melody feels like it’s a sign that her luck is finally turning around.

Justin is intrigued by the lively bohemian baker, but the last thing he’s looking for is a relationship. His own romantic failures have proven that the demands of his job are incompatible with meaningful connections, and he’s already pledged his life savings to a new business venture across the country—an island air charter in Florida with his sister and brother-in-law.

Against their better judgment, Melody and Justin find themselves drawn together by their unconventional career choices and shared love of adventure. But when an unexpected windfall provides Melody with the chance to open her dream bakery-café in Denver with her best friend, chef Rachel Bishop, she’s faced with an impossible choice: stay and put down roots with the people and place she’s come to call home . . . or give it all up for the man she loves.

My thoughts

Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe is simply delicious. With a buttery, crumbly story base about following your dreams, topped with smooth and very sweet romance, sprinkled over with friendship and faith renewal, Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe has the perfect recipe to create what is a thoroughly enjoyable contemporary Christian romance novel.

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Book Review: The Violet Bakery Cookbook

Violet Bakery Cookbook

The Violet Bakery Cookbook – Claire Ptak – Square Peg

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Synopsis

Violet is a bijou cake shop and café in Hackney, east London. The baking is done with simple ingredients including wholegrain flours, less refined sugars and the natural sweetness and muted colours of seasonal fruits. Everything is made in an open kitchen for people to see. Famed for its exquisite baked goods, Violet has become a destination.

Owner Claire Ptak uses her Californian sensibility to devise recipes that are both nourishing and indulgent. With real thought about taste and using the purest ingredients, she has created the most flavoursome iterations of classic cakes, as well as new treats for modern palates. Over 100 recipes include nourishing breakfasts, midday snacks,teatime treats, puddings to share, pantry preserves, and stylish celebration cakes.

My thoughts

I found this to be an interesting cookbook. It felt like a mix between healthy and indulgent, artistic and homey and basic.

The recipes are divided into morning, midday, afternoon, evening and party. Each section is then divided again into subgroups, such as cookies and bars, tea and loaf cakes and tart in the afternoon section. Most of the recipes are sweets or baked goods, but there are also a nice collection of quiches in the midday section.

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Book Review: Great Cake Decorating

Great Cake Decorating

Great Cake Decorating: Sweet Designs for Cakes and Cupcakes – Erin Gardner – Taunton Press – Published January 7 2014

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Synopsis

Whether you are a bride on a budget, a mom baking for a birthday, a cook who needs to control added ingredients, or just want to celebrate a special event with a fresh, delicious cake, this book has something for you.

Author and pastry chef Erin Gardner is famous for her unique designs and cake decorating skill. In these pages, she demonstrates professional techniques for creating beautiful, custom-made cakes that are also completely delicious. From how to make mouthwatering, homemade buttercream to molding gorgeous fondant flowers and bows, Erin’s detailed, step-by-step instructions offer home cooks all the decorating know-how they need. She also presents a host of secrets and shortcuts for dressing up plain cakes in absolutely no time—try her fruit Rollup trick for pretty cake flowers that can be made in a flash. Throughout the book, Erin shows time-pressed cooks how to improve upon well-known cake decorating techniques.

My thoughts

I love cake decorating books. There is something so wonderful about their vibrant pictures and, I’ve found, solid basic cake recipes. This book has all that and more.
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Book Review: Crumb

Crumb

Crumb: The Simple Pleasures of Baking – Ruby Tandoh – Ten Speed Press – Published 28 April 2015

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Synopsis

A baking cookbook from the young and talented Ruby Tandoh, with a focus on charming, flavorful, and practical dishes that celebrate the pleasure of casual baking.

Crumb’s explanatory and evocative prose promotes everyday baking without sacrificing the joy of the craft, defying the style of both showy, highly decorated baking as well as the dry, informative tone of “serious” baking books. A delight to read as well as to bake from, recipes like Sweet Potato Doughnuts, Pecan and Rosemary Tartlets, Raspberry Whisky Pavlova, and Blood Orange Polenta Cake are interspersed with the virtues of different types of apples, a reminiscence about Belgian buns, and a passage on the need to knead. Covering a range of baking projects from sweet to savory, chapters include cakes, cookies, bread, pastries, pies, tarts, and more.

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