Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Pie Book Tag

Hello, everyone! After last week's post about my baking disasters, I'm going to stick with just talking about my favorite desserts. And what's more fun than comparing desserts with books?

So today I'll be participating in the Pie Book Tag created by Awkwordly Emma, which I think is perfectly timed because I crave pie this time of year + there's time to read during the holidays. Which of these books have you read or on your TBR?

1. Caramel apple - A book that reminds you of fall.
(As a side note, I've never tried caramel apple pie before! If it's anything like apple pie, though, it's my mission to try it! :D).
So many books applicable here (in fact, I'll be posting about these more next week for Top Ten Tuesday), but for now, I'll go with...

The story has adventure in the Wild West + sunsets = perfect fall read.
2. Pumpkin - A book with a great family.
There are so many YA books that don't involve family/where the protagonist leaves the family/where an important member passes away and everyone falls apart; I scrolled through about half of my Goodreads lists before finding a book with to fit this category! Ultimately, Wonder fits very well, because all of Auggie's family members are fiercely supportive and proud of everything he does, and there's so much positivity between them.

3. French silk - A book that's easy to read or rich with descriptions.
The Wrath and the Dawn  was very detailed, and I still remember one of the descriptions of the meals because it was just that well written.

4. Key Lime - A summery sweet book.
Anything by Morgan Matson probably works; Since You've Been Gone is especially nice.
My Review
5. Blueberry Peach - A book with the perfect pairing.
I feel like blueberry peach is really light and fluffy, but the pair I was thinking of, Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell, is more like a dark chocolate cherry pie - bittersweet (especially after EFH) and intense.
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6. Oreo - A book that reminds you of your childhood.
I'm going with the entire The Winnie Years series <3. This was my absolute favorite because Lauren Myracle knows how to write about childhood worries/ups-and-downs perfectly.

I remember in one of the later books, for a moment the author describes Winnie using her tongue to get ritz cracker pieces off some teeth on the inside of her mouth - kind of gross, but these honest and raw moments make the series relatable.
7. Lemon Chess - A book with a very Southern setting.
This book is even about food :).

8. Dark Chocolate Orange - A book with a bitersweet ending.
I definitely want to mention Escaping from Houdini, but that would be cheating since I used SJTR above...so I think I'll go with Walk Two Moons. I remember crying after I read this years ago because it was such an emotional read and written so well! I can't say much else without spoiling it, but just know the ending is very atypical.

What flavors of pie are you craving? Any flavors of pie I missed? How many of the above books have you read or plan to read this holiday season? Tell me below!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

My Baking Disasters

I originally planned to post some aesthetic photos of me baking and whipping up yummy treats, but I realized that 1) I have 0 skill and 2) I have 0 ingredients. So instead, this holiday season y'all will be getting horror stories about my baking :). Enjoy!

Horror Story 1:
As mentioned above, I planned to share a nice dessert recipe with y'all for today's post. Then I realized I only had a couple of ingredients, and no flour, so I had to use our Betty Crocker chocolate chip cookie mix. Still, I was persistent and wanted to find something creative to do.

Unfortunately, I ended up being too creative. I baked the cookie in one giant cake pan, and decided to put some cream cheese frosting, a raspberry, and a mint leaf on top. Except we didn't have any cream cheese frosting, and honestly, cream cheese frosting looks pretty similar to cream cheese. So (you guessed it), I just put some cream cheese on the cookie cake. We also didn't have mint (but we did have about 10 other herbs), so I substituted basil for it.

The end result...looks good but tastes horrible!
I have to admit, this was not all a waste! I did learn some interesting mathematical relationships, namely:

cream cheese ≠ cream cheese frosting
basil ≠ mint
my mouth = disgusted

Horror Story 2:
As mentioned above, we rarely have baking ingredients at home, so I'm usually improvising. This was also really useful when I decided to make mug cakes, because you only need a couple of teaspoons of flour to make a delicious dessert. Or so I thought.

The first mug cake turned out great! In fact, I posted about it (and the recipe) here years ago. But the rest were a disaster. My substitutions (apple sauce for egg, cocoa powder for Nesquik, and other more crazy ones) just didn't work. Also I always overmicrowaved them, but nothing even ended up cooked! In fact, in history class we learned about the crusades, and how the first one was a success and the next ones failed...and it was pretty much like that with my mug cakes. 

What are your baking plans for the holiday season? Are you a skilled baker or a disaster in the kitchen? Let me know in the comments below!

*Please follow as well! Also, because I have received questions about this, the way to do so is to click a blue button in the sidebar on the PC version (you can also click "View Web Version" at the bottom of the mobile version to be directed to the PC version) 😉.*

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Capturing the Devil + Talk Shop Live Review

Goodreads Synopsis: In the shocking finale to the bestselling series that began with Stalking Jack the Ripper, Audrey Rose and Thomas are on the hunt for the depraved, elusive killer known as the White City Devil. A deadly game of cat-and-mouse has them fighting to stay one step ahead of the brilliant serial killer---or see their fateful romance cut short by unspeakable tragedy.
Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell have landed in America, a bold, brash land unlike the genteel streets of London they knew. But like London, the city of Chicago hides its dark secrets well. When the two attend the spectacular World's Fair, they find the once-in-a-lifetime event tainted with reports of missing people and unsolved murders.

Determined to help, Audrey Rose and Thomas begin their investigations, only to find themselves facing a serial killer unlike any they've heard of before. Identifying him is one thing, but capturing him---and getting dangerously lost in the infamous Murder Hotel he constructed as a terrifying torture device---is another.

Will Audrey Rose and Thomas see their last mystery to the end---together and in love---or will their fortunes finally run out when their most depraved adversary makes one final, devastating kill?

Before I review this book, I wanted to give a review on the company I acquired it from. I ordered this book from Talk Shop Live after viewing Kerri Maniscalco's live signing (super fun by the way!). Because I enjoyed the event so much, I decided to preorder the book right then and there, and placed my order with a note to personalize the copy. Unfortunately, the book did not come personalized (though it did come with the author's autograph), and it arrived late on September 26th, when the release date was September 10th (even the preorder campaign goodies came about a week or two earlier!). 

TLDR: TSL's service was disappointing, and next time, I'll just purchase the book on Amazon. 

But I have to say, the preorder goodies (not linked to Talk Shop Live, these were provided by the publisher) were really nice. The artwork was decently sized and the dust jacket was stunning! 10/10 for those.

Now for the actual review! Capturing the Devil was well-written, with plenty of details and descriptions. This is probably the best part of Kerri Maniscalco's writing; her attention to detail is on point and she immerses the reader into the story. This is especially important in historical fiction, so I'm glad she went above and beyond!

Audrey Rose continues to be a rocking protagonist, and it's awesome to see her and embracing her disability and fulfilling her dreams. Thomas is also funny as usual, but I did get tired of him telling Audrey that she still had a choice to marry someone else. I understand that this was probably emphasized to show how liberal Thomas was in that time period, but this constant self-doubt doesn't match the rest of his character, and quite frankly, gets annoying, since we already know Audrey Rose isn't going to walk away. 

The plot twist was infuriating (in a good way :)). I didn't see how they were going to out of the mess with Whitehall, but luckily Audrey Rose's grandmother has connections! I will say this wrapped up very quickly, however. Thomas and Audrey struggled for 95% of the book and on the last few pages the solution was magically presented. (For those of you who read the book, I think it'd be better if the author had written the scene with the queen instead of just Thomas describing it.)

***Minor spoilers below***
The mystery was not very well done; the murderer was obvious because there weren't many new male characters present. I also didn't really like how Nathaniel was revealed to be partially "innocent"; I feel like this just left Audrey confused and didn't drive the plot that much. 

I also can't believe Audrey was about to lure the murderer...that's extremely dangerous and very unlike her.

There was also one part where "Henry" is called "Harry" by his wife by accident. I'm curious to why that line was written, so if anyone knows why, let me know in the comments/on IG!

***end spoilers***

The ending of the novel was very satisfying, and I'm glad there were so many scenes after the end of the mystery. Overall, CTD was a solid conclusion to the series, and I give it 4/5 stars.

What do you guys think? Was Capturing the Devil a good conclusion? Were you able to solve the mystery? Let me know below!

Also, follow me on Instagram @not_a_prima_donna_girl !

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Life Updates!

Hello, everyone! I thought I'd use this post as a catch-up on what's been going on in the bookish/writing/life worlds.


  • My preordered copy of Capturing the Devil finally came...but 27 days late. Sigh. It was really sad when the fanart and extra book cover came earlier than the book itself. And even worse, it wasn't personalized :( ! I'm planning on posting a review of Capturing the Devil + TalkShopLive, so stay tuned for that.
    • CTD was pretty good, although my friend said there was going to be a plot twist but I already read some scenes online (can you blame me? 27 days late!) with the twist, so I was waiting the whole time for something else to happen but nothing did 😂.
    • Also the mystery was pretty obvious. I just realized that the villain in murder mystery novels has to be an actual character, and we've already known most of these characters from previous books, so that left only a couple of people.
  • NaNoWriMo started! I don't think I'll be participating this year, but we'll see (especially since Thanksgiving break is in a couple of weeks). Also, I had this crazy dream last night that I really want to write about :).
  • We checked out a lot of books from the library, but didn't return any of them yet. I think it's been almost a month. The problem is, our library has a no-fine policy, so we'll probably never go back 😢. We might make a tripe over Thanksgiving break (maybe I'll just dump all my responsibilities to that week and just watch Netflix when the time actually comes...).
  • Physics is really, really hard.
  • I watched Happy Death Day 2 U on Halloween with some of my friends. It's an annual tradition to celebrate at my friend's house, whose mom, by the way, cooks really yummy food :).
  • I dressed up as Amazon Prime on Halloween (see here). Last year I was a cation (cat ears with a plus sign drawn on my shirt), so I was glad I was able to continue the tradition of punny costumes.
Planned posts:
  • Capturing the Devil review + TalkShopLive review
  • Something Physics-related 😏.
Other notes:
  • In case you haven't heard, I got a bookstagram/blogstagram :). Follow me @not_a_prima_donna_girl
What have you guys been up to this past month? What did you guys do on Halloween? Have you read Capturing the Devil? Let me know below!
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