February Bookworm Part 2

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The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Ever since I read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, I’ve been hankering for more of Holly Black’s magical and scary stories. I love this new tale about Hazel and her brother and the town of Fairfold.

“Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.”

“Down a path worn into the woods, past a stream and a hollowed-out log full of pill bugs and termites, was a glass coffin. It rested right on the ground, and in it slept a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives.”

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Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman
I love anthologies, especially when they are by all one author. Gaiman builds upon his themes of seemingly unrelated short stories that draw you in and capture the imagination you had when you were a child. Up late telling spooky stories.
Among my favorites in this go ’round are: “A Lunar Labyrinth”, “The Thing About Cassandra”, “The Sleeper and the Spindle” and “A Calendar of Tales” (of which the ideas for each story was given to him from suggestions via Twitter).

But lets get down to the reason why we all really bought the book:

“Black Dog”
The final short story of the anthology reunites us with Shadow from American Gods. Still tramping around Europe and further south now in the U.K than when he checked in during “Monarch of the Glen.” He spends a few days in a seemingly idyllic village at the house of a seemingly charming couple. Old places have old Gods, old ways and many secrets.

“The old religion is what gets the crops up and keeps your c*ck hard and makes sure that nobody builds a bloody great motorway through an area of outstanding natural beauty. The Gateway stands, and the hill stands, and the place stands. It’s well, well over two thousand years old. You don’t go mucking about with anything that powerful.”

Dude really needs to shy away from quaint villages for a while. I’m just saying…

Recently Gaiman commented on Tumblr that Shadow is headed for London next and after that back to the U.S. for another American Gods book.
(internal fan-girl squeeing)

February Bookworm Part 1

Now that the Christmas rush and New Years is over I’ve been a reading machine so, I’m going to spread out February’s Bookworm over two posts.

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Anna and French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Last year I read the last book of this series (Isla and the Happily Ever After) and loved it! Her characters contain all the quirks of people I know over here in reality.

“A few months ago, my father enrolled me in boarding school. His air quotes practically crackled over the phone line as he declared living abroad to be a “good learning experience” and a “keepsake I’d treasure forever”. Yeah. Keepsake. And I would’ve pointed out his misuse of the word had I not already been freaking out.”

Anna’s fish out of water journey is great. We get to see Paris through the eyes of an absolute beginner, that’s always a fun plot point for me.
Etienne St. Clair is a treat of a character. He’s all swagger and charm but it hides some very deep wounds.

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Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Number two in the (French Kiss) series, brings us back stateside to San Franciso and Lola Nolan who would like her parents to approve of her older hunky, rockstar, boyfriend. Not gonna happen. Lola, however, has a bigger problem now, the boy who broke her heart and then moved away is back.

“…But I’m jogging now, hauling Betsy down the hill. Something’s not right. And I’m positive it’s happened—that Max has left or my parents have cornered him into a heated argument about the lack of direction in his life—when I reach my street and everything clicks into place.
The moving truck.
Not the brunch.
The moving truck.”
“..I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about. What are the chances?
Except . . . there’s always a chance. The movers lift a white sofa from the back of the truck, and my heart thumps harder. Do I recognize it? Have I sat on that love seat before? But no. I don’t know it. I peer inside the crammed truck, searching for anything familiar, and I’m met with stacks of severe modern furniture that I’ve never seen before.
It’s not them. It can’t be them.”
“…Max examines me with an unusual curiosity. “Your parents say you know the family.”
No. NO.”

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All Fall Down by Ally Carter
First books in a new series can tend to be all about world building and establishing characters, usually to the detriment of the story. That’s some what true with All Fall Down. There’s a lot crammed into the first two chapters, but then the adventure starts for Grace and her friends and it’s a fun one that leads to a game changing ending. And now I get to drum my fingers impatiently for book two. Please write faster Ms. Carter!

“Three years ago, Grace Blakely witnessed her mother’s murder, but no one else seems willing to even acknowledge that it was a homicide, so this daredevil decided that she will have to solve the killing herself. It doesn’t take long for Grace to realize that none of her Embassy Row connections will help a jot; in fact, her powerful ambassador grandfather and his cohorts badly want her to stop ruffling feathers and return to her place as a just another pretty face at the government receptions. An intriguing new series by the author of the Gallagher Girls series.”

“…First lesson.”
Noah broadens his stance, taking his place firmly on the embassy side of the threshold. “in the United States,” he says. Then, with both feet, he leaps on to the sidewalk. “Out of the United States.” Quickly, he jumps back toward me. “In the United States.” Another jump across the threshold. “Out of the United States. In. Out. In –”

“Is this the part where I hit you?”

Meet Erin Loechner

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For February I would like you to meet Erin Loechner of Design for Mankind.
She’s a former Art Director and Stylist and HGTV host.
She’s always on top of every trend and has a fresh perspective when you think you’ve heard it all.
If ever I need a pick me up when I’m feeling uninspired I run over to Design for Mankind and remember right away why I decided to blog in the first place.
Thank you Erin!

Lemon Madeleines

Lemon Madelines

The batter needs to sit in the fridge overnight, however, that’s perfect for early morning baking. Simply stagger out and pour a cup of coffee while the oven preheats. 15 minutes later you have these lemony crisp delights.

Lemon Madeleines
1 1/2 cup (200g) Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
The Zest of One Large Lemon
1 1/2 sticks (200g) Butter (Melted & Cooled)
2 tablespoons Honey
1/4 cup (60ml) Milk
3 Large Eggs
2/3 cup (130g) Sugar

Mix the flour, baking powder, lemon zest and salt. Set aside.
Melt the butter on high in the microwave for about 1 minute then set aside to cool for about 5 minutes.
Add the honey and the milk to the melted butter and stir to combine.
In large bowl add the sugar and the eggs. Whisk (hand or electric) until light in color and fluffy.

Beat the butter mixture into the egg mixture, combine well.
Fold one half of the flour mixture into the egg/butter mixture. Fold the other half into the batter.
Cover and refrigerate for overnight.

To Bake:
Preheat the oven to 375f/190c
Butter and flour a madeleine pan. (I love Pam for Baking- butter and flour in one shot!)
Spoon 1 teaspoon full of batter into each of the shell forms.

filling the pan

It doesn’t look like enough, but it will fill the shell cup as it bakes.
Bake for 10-13 minutes.
I like my madeleines crisp and golden on the outside. In my oven that’s about 11-12 minutes baking time.
If you’d prefer yours to be lighter experiment with the baking time to see what your oven can do.

baked madelines

Invert the pan onto a cooling rack and give the bottom a little swat to de-pan. Allow to cool.
Serve with jam or as dessert with ice cream or stewed fruits.

Store at room temp covered with a tea towel (to keep them crispy) or in a air tight container.

Print this recipe? Lemon Madeleines

Making Grocery Store Flowers Look Beautiful!

It’s lovely to scoop up a bundle of fresh flowers in the grocery store as a treat for yourself or someone special. Here’s how to make them look beautiful when you get them home.

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Arranging a big mass of all the same kind and color is elegant and less work to arrange. My favorite is Alstroemeria or Princess Lilies. They are usually the nicest looking thing on offer.

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Scoot your chosen vase to the edge of the table and place the flowers blooms at the height you want them to be. Place a rubber band at the point where you’ll cut the stems to fit the vase.

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Arrange the flowers in the vase before adding water. When you are happy with your arrangement add lukewarm water to the vase.
Empty and replace the water daily to keep the flowers fresher longer, also to prevent that “swampy” smell from occurring.

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Enjoy your flowers! You deserve them!