Worthy of the Week

Pssst. I’m going on vacation. Be back in June!

Worthy of the Week This Deserves Cocktails

Worthy of the Week

Book of the Week

Another NetGalley sneak peak, Circling the Sun is by the same author who wrote The Paris Wife, which was a favorite of mine a few years back. Who knew the British colonization of Africa could be so romantic? My only complaint is that there were too many characters, including some who had multiple names. Please see the above reference to being horrible with names.

What are you reading?

Summer Reads

The sun is shining. Temperatures are nearing triple digits. The world smells like sunscreen and Sun In.

You know what that means, right?

It’s time to start stacking up those summer reads!

Here are a few that top my list this summer, all of which fall into the most enjoyable “literary fluff” category. (I’m wishing I’d finished my winter reading list right about now now.)

What are you looking forward to reading this summer?

2015 Summer Reads, The Turner House, Church of Marvels, How to Start a Fire, Luckiest Girl Alive, The Rocks, Eight Hundred Grapes, Saint Mazie, Kitchens of the Great MidwestThe Turner House by Angela Flournoy (April 14, 2015) — The Turners have lived on Yarrow Street for over fifty years. Their house has seen thirteen children grown and gone—and some returned; it has seen the arrival of grandchildren, the fall of Detroit’s East Side, and the loss of a father. The house still stands despite abandoned lots, an embattled city, and the inevitable shift outward to the suburbs. But now, as ailing matriarch Viola finds herself forced to leave her home and move in with her eldest son, the family discovers that the house is worth just a tenth of its mortgage. The Turner children are called home to decide its fate and to reckon with how each of their pasts haunts—and shapes—their family’s future.

Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry (May 5, 2015) — A ravishing first novel, set in vibrant, tumultuous turn-of-the-century New York City, where the lives of four outsiders become entwined, bringing irrevocable change to them all.

How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz (May 12, 2015) — When UC Santa Cruz roommates Anna and Kate find passed-out Georgiana Leoni on a lawn one night, they wheel her to their dorm in a shopping cart. Twenty years later, they gather around a campfire on the lawn of a New England mansion. What happens in between—the web of wild adventures, unspoken jealousies, and sudden tragedies that alter the course of their lives—is charted with sharp wit and aching sadness in this meticulously constructed novel.

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll (May 12, 2015) — Mrs. Kendall gave this one a bit of a scathing review, which I have to admit piqued my interest even more. As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve. But Ani has a secret.

The Rocks by Peter Nichols (May 26, 2015) — Set against dramatic Mediterranean Sea views and lush olive groves, The Rocks opens with a confrontation and a secret: What was the mysterious, catastrophic event that drove two honeymooners apart so suddenly and absolutely in 1948 that they never spoke again despite living on the same island for sixty more years? And how did their history shape the Romeo and Juliet–like romance of their (unrelated) children decades later? Centered around a popular seaside resort club and its community, The Rocks is a double love story that begins with a mystery, then moves backward in time, era by era, to unravel what really happened decades earlier.

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave (June 2, 2015) — Growing up on her family’s Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother’s lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands. But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever.

Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg (June 2, 2015) —  This is Attenberg’s much anticipated follow-up to her bestselling novel The Middlesteins, which I thoroughly enjoyed and thought was very Jeffrey Eugenides-esque. Meet Mazie Phillips: big-hearted and bawdy, she’s the truth-telling proprietress of The Venice, the famed New York City movie theater. It’s the Jazz Age, with romance and booze aplenty–even when Prohibition kicks in–and Mazie never turns down a night on the town. But her high spirits mask a childhood rooted in poverty, and her diary, always close at hand, holds her dearest secrets.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal (August 6, 2015) — Who is Eva Thorvald? To her single father, a chef, she’s a pint-sized recipe tester and the love of his life. To the chilli chowdown contestants of Cook County, Illinois, she’s a fire-eating demon. To the fashionable foodie goddess of supper clubs, she’s a wanton threat. She’s an enigma, a secret ingredient that no one can put their finger on. Eva will surprise everyone. On the day before her eleventh birthday, she’s cultivating chilli peppers in her wardrobe like a pro. Abandoned by her mother, gangly and poor, Eva arms herself with the weapons of her unknown heritage: a kick-ass palate and a passion bordering on obsession. Over the years, her tastes grow, and so does her ambition. One day Eva will be the greatest chef in the world. But along the way, the people she meets will shape her – and she, them – in ways unforgettable, riotous and profound. So she – for one – knows exactly who she is by the time her mother returns to find out. Kitchens of the Great Midwest is about the family you lose, the friends you make and chance connections that can define a life. Joyful, quirky or brazen, everyone lends their voice to tell Eva’s story – one that’s as heartwarming as it is irresistible, taking the bitter with the sweet.

Worthy of the Week

Worthy of the Week Austin Rainbow SkyDid my Austin friends see the sunset earlier this week? Unbelievable. No filter needed.

Worthy of the Week

Book of the Week

If you aren’t a fan of Brittany Gibbons, you can go ahead and get right out of town. But if you aren’t a fan of her new book, Fat Girl Walking, I kind of understand. As much as I love Brittany and her message, her fat girl experience has been so different than mine that it didn’t resonate. It wasn’t a bad read, I just had unrealistically high expectations.

Thanks to NetGalley, I spent an evening with A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan (the books editor at Glamour); a fluffy beach read that’s a little Bridget Jones meets Sheryl Sandberg set in the publishing industry. There are a few parts that are surprisingly touching and an undeveloped storyline with one of the children in the story that drove me nuts, but overall it’s serviceable chick lit.

What have you been reading?

The Truth About Neiman Marcus Bars

I grew up calling these little slices of heaven Neiman Marcus Bars, so imagine my shock when I’m minding my own business, watching Delicious Destinations, and Andrew Zimmern drops the bomb that they’re actually  St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake.

I’ve since learned that Neiman Marcus bars are the same basic recipe with the addition of  coconuts, pecans, and/or chocolate chips (which I  just find unnecessary) but whatever you call them, don’t let your eyes get bigger than you’re stomach. They’re super sweet and super duper addicting so eating yourself sick is a legitimate danger.

I took a pan to work recently and coworkers stopped by my office all day asking for the recipe.

Neiman Marcus Bars St Louis Gooey Butter Cake

Neiman Marcus Bars

Makes 20 small servings

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 oz) package yellow cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • 16 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 (16 oz) box powdered sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To prepare the crust, combine cake mix, 1 egg, and 8 tablespoons melted butter using an electric mixer. (Mixture should be the consistency of sugar cookie dough.) Pat mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 9×13-inch pan and set aside.

For the filling, beat cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth, then add the other egg, vanilla, and remaining 8 tablespoons of melted butter. Slowly add powdered sugar and mix well.

Pour filling over cake batter crust and bake for 40-50 minutes. Top should crackle and turn golden brown while center is still gooey. Cool before cutting and serving. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Worthy of the Week

Worthy of the Week sunglasses

In keeping with my New Year’s resolution, I took a spontaneous week off from blogging last week and it felt good. I also found out that I got accepted to the Yale Publishing Course, so my Gilmore Girls obsession is in overdrive.

Worthy of the Week

Book of the Week

I am a few years too young to be a true riot grrl, but I still like to pretend I was in the thick of it. Unfortunately Girl in a Band by Sonic Youth front-woman Kim Gordon made me reconsider. She may be the most boring and pretentious rock star ever. Quite the combo.

I’m about ten years behind on this one, but I picked up The Time Traveler’s Wife for a song at Half Price Books and I couldn’t put it down. It’s kind of crazy that after all the success that book had it appears to be out of print and not available as an ebook.

I rarely read non-fiction but I found Huguette Clark so fascinating after listing to this NPR piece that I had to read Empty Mansions.

Burial Rites has been sitting on my desk for literally two years. I’m kind of mad at you guys for not telling me to read it sooner.

What have you been reading?