Monday, September 1, 2014

Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore




This coming of age story grabbed me from the first paragraph. I loved the constant twists and how everything tied together at the end. The author, Miranda Beverly-Whittmore, gives the main character, Mabel Dagmar, a wonderful voice throughout the story. Anyone who stood on the outside looking in as a young adult will relate to Mabel and anyone who didn't will gain insight into the life of someone less fortunate.

This story delves honestly into how one's actions--no matter how well-intended--can twist into tragedy. Speaking of intentions, there's evil ones too, leaving me with my mouth agape. Not one character, be it Ev, her family, or even Mable, was predictable...or ended up how I pictured in my mind.

This author has a gift. She lulls the reader in a soft, unassuming way, and then shocks with a surprise, twist or downright I-can't-believe-that-just-happened. 

I love the turns along the gravelly path in Bittersweet. I adore the cottages, each with a personality, and dubbed after a flower. And every one of them have bolts upon the door...even the bedrooms and bathrooms. Why, in such an idyllic and private setting of the Winslow Retreat is there a need for this? This was the earlies hint of the secrets waiting to be divulged. 

Mabel is the narrator in this story, with her perspective fluctuating between her disdain of her underprivileged past, and that of her wealthy roommate, Ev Winslow--and the desire to be like her.

I looked at the picture of the gathered Winslows above my desk, although it was as silly an enterprise as opening the menu of a diner you've been going to your whole life. I knew every blond head, every slim calf, as though her family was my own~excerpt from Bittersweet

The descriptions the author pens are amazing. I could smell the dank forests, feel the shock of water against my skin...or basking in the warmth of the sun. I could smell the food in the dining hall, and I shivered at the whisper of secrets nagging to be told.
The rhythm of the story soothed, shocked, and spattered in imagination, littering my mind with the constant--yet not overdone--twists and plots throughout the story.



Disclosure of Material connection in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR Part 255Blogging For Books has provided me a copy of this book in exchange for a review.



Let Us All Eat Cake


Let Us All Eat Cake...and they're gluten-free!

Throughout the years, I've accumulated a collection of gluten free cookbooks--many banished to basement shelves,   never to see a kitchen counter again. Why? They tend to be filled with hard to find ingredients, and difficult to follow recipes. Then, after all the hard work the cakes tend to be heavy-textured enough to use as a doorstop.
That being said, Let Us All Eat Cake is a fantastic cookbook! I tried several recipes, and wow, I couldn't be happier with the results.

Pros:
1. LOTS OF PHOTOGRAPHS:  I want to see what the finished product should look like. This book is full of them. Love this bonus.

2. FLOUR MIX RECIPES! In many gluten-free cookbooks, a recipe will call for gluten-free flour, but they don't always give a recipe to create your own mixture. Now, there's nothing wrong with ready-made mixes, but it's more economical to make your own. Let Us All Eat Cake, has not one, but two recipes for flour mixtures: Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour Blend and Gluten-Free Whole Grain Flour Blend.  

3. CATEGORIZED INFORMATION: The beginning of the book is chock-full of information, including how to stock your gluten-free pantry. There are many helpful tips, from a breakdown of sweetener options to which flavorings and fruits work best with the recipes. For the beginner, there's even a list of equipment, from pans to utensils.

4. SERIOUSLY? VEGAN AND ALLERGY FREE CAKE CHART? Wow. This floored me. There's an easy to read chart listing which recipes are Dairy free, Vegan, Nut Free, and Soy Free. Who does this??? Let Us All Eat Cake is aptly titled.

5. FANTASTIC, TASTY, EASY TO FOLLOW RECIPES: Need I say more?


Cons:

1. I can't stop eating cake.


Summary:

Let Us All Eat Cake is sure to become a dog-eared, stained and worn cookbook. It won't end up tucked away in the basement, crisp pages intact, unmarked, and lonely. I highly recommend this book for anyone, not just those with gluten intolerance. You'll be pleased with the taste and texture of these cakes.



Disclosure of Material connection in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR Part 255: Blogging For Books has provided me a copy of this book in exchange for a review.