Doughnuts: made the easy way!

photo credit: slightly everything via photopin cc

When I’m not reading, blogging or doing homework, I’m cooking. Cooking is a lot like reading and writing: it brings ingredients together to create a single dish that tells a story of flavors, family, friends and experiences. And just like with books, you don’t have to be the creator. Sometimes we’re all just looking for a little eye candy. So here’s a little food for thought!

I don’t know if you all know this, but I’m a total foodie. A foodie is “someone who has an ardent or refined interest in food.” Cooking is all about discovery for me – seeing which ingredients work well together, what flavors can be created, and what new foods can be tried. So now I’m bringing this discovery to TGR!

Every Monday I’ll be sharing a new food find, recipe, and of course, some eye candy.

This week: doughnuts

(Yes, I spell it “doughnuts.” It really, really bugs me when I see it spelled as “donuts.”)

So, I’ve been on a bit of a doughnut kick. And in this kick I’ve learned a new trick. (Oh man, I rhymed.) Check this out:

Talk about easy!

Thank you, Pinterest!

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

8 Responses to “Whip it Up Mondays! {13} – doughnuts made easy.”

  1. *snorts* It must be spelled doughnuts, huh?

    That looks like a really easy way to make doughnuts! 🙂

  2. Liz. R says:

    I am trying to find out if these are sold in England, they look amazing and so easy to make! If not, I will just have to go out and buy some, you’ve got me craving doughnuts now :P.

  3. OMG!! I used to make these alllll the time!! They really are super tasty and fluffy. 🙂

  4. Cialina says:

    I admit it… I am IMPRESSED.

Cooking tips: prep.

photo credit: slightly everything via photopin cc

When I’m not reading, blogging or doing homework, I’m cooking. Cooking is a lot like reading and writing: it brings ingredients together to create a single dish that tells a story of flavors, family, friends and experiences. And just like with books, you don’t have to be the creator. Sometimes we’re all just looking for a little eye candy. So here’s a little food for thought!

I don’t know if you all know this, but I’m a total foodie. A foodie is “someone who has an ardent or refined interest in food.” Cooking is all about discovery for me – seeing which ingredients work well together, what flavors can be created, and what new foods can be tried. So now I’m bringing this discovery to TGR!

Every Monday I’ll be sharing a new food find, recipe, and of course, some eye candy.

This week: cooking tips

Cooking tips don’t always pertain to the actual cooking of things. Sometimes tips are also essential for prep work. Here are two quick tips to make your cooking experiences just a little bit better.

 

ONION WOES

Ever go to cut an onion, only to be reduced to tears and burning eyes? (It’s all right. It happens to all of us.)

Did you know there’s a way to prevent that, though? That’s right. You don’t have to cry!

Here’s what you can do:

1. Put the onion in the fridge or freezer at least 20-30 minutes before planning to cut it.

2. Quickly rinse the onion (peeled) in water, then chop.

 

SMELLY HANDS

Garlic is amazing, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re going to smell like it for quite some time.

Here’s how to get the potent smell off your hands:

1. After chopping the garlic, rub your hands on a stainless steel utensil.

2. After chopping the garlic, wash your hands with lemon soap or lemon juice.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

8 Responses to “Whip it Up Mondays! {15} – cooking tips.”

  1. I have heard that onion trick!

    Also, I like garlic. Mmmm…. garlic.

  2. Liz. R says:

    Is it odd that I usually don’t cry cutting onions? I do sometimes but most of the time I’m fine. I wonder why…maybe different types of onions have different effects? And garlic is amazing but the smell left on your hands is annoying. Will definitely be using those tips!

  3. Nikki Steele says:

    What a fun one! I actually have a pair of old swimming goggles I use when cutting onions because they make me tear up so badly. I have to use them covertly as my husband can’t help laughing when he sees me in them.

    Another quick garlic tip if you don’t have a garlic press is to slice the clove thinly, sprinkle a bit of salt over it, and then mash it with the back of a fork. The salt makes it easier to break the garlic up.

    • Alissa says:

      😮 I like that tip! Especially because I don’t have a garlic press. Will be using in the future! Thanks, Nikki. 🙂

How to make homemade popcorn

Whip it Up Mondays! {7}

Jun
11

2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Memes, Whip it Up Mondays

photo credit: slightly everything via photopin cc

When I’m not reading, blogging or doing homework, I’m cooking. Cooking is a lot like reading and writing: it brings ingredients together to create a single dish that tells a story of flavors, family, friends and experiences. And just like with books, you don’t have to be the creator. Sometimes we’re all just looking for a little eye candy. So here’s a little food for thought!

I don’t know if you all know this, but I’m a total foodie. A foodie is “someone who has an ardent or refined interest in food.” Cooking is all about discovery for me – seeing which ingredients work well together, what flavors can be created, and what new foods can be tried. So now I’m bringing this discovery to TGR!

Every Monday I’ll be sharing a new food find, recipe, and of course, some eye candy.

This week: Popcorn

It used to be that I’d rarely ever eat popcorn. Movie theater popcorn? Pass. Too greasy. Microwaveable popcorn? Pass. Extra Loaded Butter? More like Is There Butter at All? Plus, I always hated having kernels stuck in my teeth.

And then I got a wok and everything changed. Now, I know you’re probably thinking that woks are meant for cooking Asian cuisine. While that’s true, it’s not the only truth. Woks are good for many things (a list that would need its own post), including making popcorn. BUT. There’s also another way to make homemade popcorn: in a regular pot.

Are you doubting me yet? Stick with me!

First, the benefits. Making your own popcorn isn’t only tastier, but healthier. Microwaveable popcorn brands contain preservatives, nasty chemicals and unneeded sodium. Oh, and let’s not forget the entirely fake butter. Homemade popcorn simply has oil, salt (to taste) and real butter. That’s it. And it’s cheaper. Microwaveable popcorn can cost $5+ for a mere 3-5 packs, whereas buying a bag of kernels to pop at home (which ultimately yields like 10x the amount of popcorn) can be as cheap as $2. The other good news is it’s just as easy to make as it is to pop it in the microwave.

The typical popcorn kernels are yellow and white kernels. (Yellow is the kind they use at theaters.) But am I the only one that hates those annoying hulls that get stuck in your teeth? I’d like to think I’m not! Well, guess what? There’s a way to avoid them: black kernels, which have fewer hulls. When I discovered this I ran out and bought some, and to my surprise, they really do have very little hulls! The one downside is that they don’t pop as big as yellow and white kernels. So it comes down to a matter of preference. Either way, it tastes so much better, and that’s what matters.

So, what do you do?

INGREDIENTS

homemade popcorn

  • 3 tbsp. vegetable/canola oil
  • 1/3 – 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels (serves up to 4)
  • a few pinches of salt (to taste)
  • butter, melted (depends how buttery you want your popcorn; start with 1 tbsp and melt more if needed)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Pour 3 tbsp. of vegetable/canola oil and popcorn kernels into a deep pot. Stir the kernels to make sure they’re all coated with some of the oil, then flatten them out so most of the kernels aren’t atop others.
  2. Turn the heat on high and cover with a lid. The kernels will start popping in a few minutes.
  3. In the meantime, melt your butter!
  4. When the popping tapers off, turn off the heat and transfer popcorn to a bowl and sprinkle with a bit of salt and the melted butter. Toss to coat as many pieces as possible.

And ta-da!

 

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

2 Responses to “Whip it Up Mondays! {7}”

  1. […] How to make your own popcorn […]

  2. […] The Grammarian talks about how to make popcorn at home without a microwave. […]

Quinoa veggie burger (recipe)

photo credit: slightly everything via photopin cc

When I’m not reading, blogging or doing homework, I’m cooking. Cooking is a lot like reading and writing: it brings ingredients together to create a single dish that tells a story of flavors, family, friends and experiences. And just like with books, you don’t have to be the creator. Sometimes we’re all just looking for a little eye candy. So here’s a little food for thought!

I don’t know if you all know this, but I’m a total foodie. A foodie is “someone who has an ardent or refined interest in food.” Cooking is all about discovery for me – seeing which ingredients work well together, what flavors can be created, and what new foods can be tried. So now I’m bringing this discovery to TGR!

Every Monday I’ll be sharing a new food find, recipe, and of course, some eye candy.

This week: veggie burgers

Hello, I’m Alissa and I may be turning into a vegetarian.

All right – that’s not necessarily true. But I do love my vegetables, and lately I’ve been a severe quinoa junky. (That stuff is SO good!) So naturally if you put quinoa and veggies together, I’m going to start drooling. …Although technically I planned to post about another food find, after stumbling upon this recipe and giving it a go, I couldn’t resist; I had to share.

Do you see these beauties sizzling?

I had my reservations about making these, though. Years ago, when I’d decided to try going vegetarian, it was veggie burgers that stopped me from continuing a meatless path. Those premade, hard-as-rock patties were beyond unappetizing and finding this recipe brought back the memories of eating what might as well have been cardboard. But then I saw that they called for quinoa and I thought, How bad could they really be?

Not. Bad. At. All. (Of course this one looks way more picture-perfect than mine!)

INGREDIENTS

veggie burgers

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 15 ounces can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup Italian seasoned dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small pot, bring 3/4 cup water to a boil. Add quinoa, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook until liquid is absorbed, 12 to 14 minutes; set aside.
  2. In a food processor, pulse carrot until finely chopped. Add cooked quinoa, scallions, garlic, beans, breadcrumbs, egg, cumin, salt, and pepper; pulse until combined but still slightly chunky.
  3. Form mixture into four patties. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium; cook burgers until browned, about 8 minutes per side. [note: I found that this made too much of the mixture for only four patties (I didn’t want them that thick), so I ended up with six instead.]

 

In the end, these were absolutely delicious. And hey – I didn’t have to feel guilty for eating two because they’re packed with protein!

Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

4 Responses to “Whip it Up Mondays! {14} – veggie burgers.”

  1. *drools* I may have to try these. They look delicious!

  2. Nikki Steele says:

    Looks amazing! I find myself swinging to vegetarian recipes lately too, especially with the heat.

How to make twinkie cupcakes

photo credit: slightly everything via photopin cc

When I’m not reading, blogging or doing homework, I’m cooking. Cooking is a lot like reading and writing: it brings ingredients together to create a single dish that tells a story of flavors, family, friends and experiences. And just like with books, you don’t have to be the creator. Sometimes we’re all just looking for a little eye candy. So here’s a little food for thought!

I don’t know if you all know this, but I’m a total foodie. A foodie is “someone who has an ardent or refined interest in food.” Cooking is all about discovery for me – seeing which ingredients work well together, what flavors can be created, and what new foods can be tried. So now I’m bringing this discovery to TGR!

Every Monday I’ll be sharing a new food find, recipe, and of course, some eye candy.

This week: Twinkie cupcakes

I’ve got a confession: I love Twinkies. It’s true. Those stuffed, golden Hostess cakes get me drooling every time. I know they’re awful for you, and I know I’m otherwise more of a proponent of eating healthier alternatives. But these are childhood favorites for me – even moreso, I think, because I grew up not being allowed to eat them very often.

So it’s really no surprise that when I found this recipe for Twinkie cupcakes, I made it my mission to make them ASAP.

And let me tell you: they taste SO. GOOD. These cupcakes do Twinkies every bit of justice and then some. And there’s nothing wrong with indulging every now and then… right?

Just promise me you won’t run away when you see how much butter goes into these things.

INGREDIENTS

twinkie cupcakes

  • 1 box yellow cake mix, plus ingredients on back of box
  • 1 small box sugar free/fat free instant French vanilla pudding mix (note: I used regular because my grocery store didn’t have the sugar free/fat free kind, and it was fine.)
  • 1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow fluff
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 teaspoons very hot water

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two muffin tins with about 20 paper liners. Set aside.
  2. Prepare cake mix according to package directions, stirring the box of pudding mix into the cake batter to blend. Portion batter evenly among muffin cups, about 2/3 full, and bake for approx. 15-18 mins or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely, then core out the cupcakes’ middles with a sharp, small paring knife, careful not to cut through the entire cupcake. Eat or discard centers. (note: I ended up saving the centers, or at least the tops of the centers, to plug/cover the filling.)
  3. First, dissolve the salt into the hot water and allow to cool. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the marshmallow cream, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla extract until fluffy. Beat in the salt water. Mixture should be light but not as stiff as frosting.
  4. Scoop filling into a resealable plastic bag, seal tight, and snip off a corner of the bag. Pipe the filling into each cored cupcake, filling just to the top. Refrigerate cupcakes while you prepare the frosting. (note: I’m going to stop right here. Yes, these cupcakes are also meant to be frosted with an icing similar to their filling. But it requires another stick of butter, and another jar of Fluff, and more powdered sugar. I just couldn’t do it. It seemed like overkill. And while I’m sure they taste good with the icing, they’re delicious even without it. Plus, the way I rationalized it for myself is that Twinkies don’t have any icing outside either. So hah! But if you want to go ahead with the icing, you can find the recipe for it at the above link.)

So what’s the final result look like?

Well, as I tweeted the other day, it looks like this:

I stuffed my Twinkie cupcakes and then re-capped them so they weren’t just open pockets of filling. When I started having less and less of the filling, I simply stopped coring the cupcakes and spread the filling on top, as icing.

And then I dove in. The good thing is you can eat these cupcakes two ways: right after you fill them, ’cause then they’re all full of gooey goodness, ready to burst, and after you chill them in your fridge, ’cause then they’re like your traditional Twinkie. Total win-win.

If my picture isn’t exactly making your mouth water, then you might want to look at this picture from The Domestic Rebel’s site. Cue drooling ………. now:

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

10 Responses to “Whip it Up Mondays! {8} – Twinkie cupcakes.”

  1. OMG, I am so glad you made them!! Aren’t they rocking?! I’m intrigued by the unfrosted version-yes, the frosting IS a bit sweet, but the unfrosted sounds just about perfect. And you’re right, Twinkies are perfect without it normally so why not have a Twinkie-esque muffin?!

    • Alissa says:

      Haha, well, it only LOOKS like a muffin. Still tastes like a cupcake. 😉

      And they’re beyond rocking. They’re just …. cannot express it in words!

      Many, many, MANY thanks to you for posting the recipe. <3

  2. Jessica S. says:

    OMG. I’m bookmarking this page!!! <3 Thanks for sharing!

  3. I want to eat a Twinkie cupcake! It looks SO good.

  4. elena says:

    oh geez these look so unhealthy but SO GOOD! I’m not really a fan of twinkies but I’ve had them fried & with ice cream before which was delicious. Really bad but delicious, haha.

thegrammariansreviews.com

REVIEW! Red Glove by Holly Black.

Jul
11

12 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book reviews, Four Stars

Red Glove by Holly Black

Curses and cons. Magic and the mob. In Cassel Sharpe’s world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth—he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything—or anyone—into something else.

That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she’s human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila’s been cursed to love him, a little gift from his emotion worker mom. And if Lila’s love is as phony as Cassel’s made-up memories, then he can’t believe anything she says or does.

When Cassel’s oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue—crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too—they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can’t trust anyone—least of all, himself?

Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose.

MY THOUGHTS:

You know when you love the first book of a series so much and then the sequel lets you down? Forget that notion. It does not apply to Red Glove. Holly Black is one talented lady. The Curse Workers story remains just as captivating, if not more than, in Red Glove as it did in White Cat.

Red Glove is all about taking Cassel’s story one step further. There’s more Lila, more Daneca, more Sam, more mom, more Barron. The change is imminent, but good. Cassel shows growth; he’s not the same boy doing the same things and getting the same results. He’s learning, and you can see that through his actions. I love that about his character, because just when you think you can predict what he’ll do next, he surprises you.

Red Glove, as a whole, surprises you. It combines all the elements of a mystery and scatters them as minute details. Each character has a story that contributes to the whole.  Sounds like nothing special, but Black seamlessly weaves them together, which allows for a few surprises along the way – like the Feds. Really, the contrast is great: mobsters versus a government agency. As if there weren’t already enough tension, Black throws more into the pot. But they are both neither predictable nor stereotypical. They’re these two outer forces that are always present, but do not dictate the entire story. Which is good, because if they did, then it wouldn’t be Cassel’s story to tell. I like that even though Cassel is presented with so many options, he ultimately is the one to choose his own path.

Of course, not everything’s picture perfect. I felt the Fed/Mob troubles overshadowed the real issue at hand: Cassel’s brother’s murder. Regarding that, new characters were introduced that we know little of, and I’m hoping they don’t vanish in Black Heart.

This is a very fluid sequel that has a complete beginning, middle and end. And the great thing is that while you’re satisfied with the story thus far, you’re also left unsatisfied just enough to pull you to the next book. Holly Black truly works wonders with her readers’ emotions.

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

12 Responses to “REVIEW! Red Glove by Holly Black.”

  1. Yes! The sequel was definitely as good (better, I think) than the first book. And that’s always a win! I will pick up the next book, but not in audiobook, I think.

  2. Liz. R says:

    Oooh yay, glad to hear this one was just as good as White Cat! I’m really looking forward to reading it, so it’s reassuring to know that it wasn’t a letdown. Thanks for the great review! 🙂

  3. Holly Black is a fantastic author. I so love her books! I’m glad you liked this one!

  4. elena says:

    I appreciate it when sequels uphold the standard of the first or are even better. I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! I agree about the ending, it was satisfying to tide you over but leave you wanting more.

  5. Cialina says:

    I’m usually afraid to read sequels because they are such a let-down most of the times. I was so happy that this was not the case! 🙂

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (book review)

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The day that Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school is also the day a series of brutal murders breaks out over the city, killings mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper spree of more than a century ago. Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him—the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target.

384 pages | Published: September 29, 2011 | Penguin Group

MY THOUGHTS:

For a story that revolves around Jack the Ripper, I expected there to be many more Ripper moments.

The first chunk of The Name of the Star consists of serious build-up and character building, specifically that of Rory and her new life at boarding school. It’s a typical fish-out-of-water scenario.  That said, the characters are all memorable and realistic – especially the boys.  For once, it was nice to not have boys banging down any doors, standing outside windows with boomboxes, or going out of their way to get the girl.  Consequently, the romance took a back seat.  And even when it was prevalent, it was spontaneous and … awkward.  Really, all it did was get my hopes up very early on.

I never expected this story to take the turn that it did.  It kept me hooked, but dissolved into a letdown.  I never felt the urgency or terror associated with the Ripper drama. Instead of increasing in action, it dwindles, becoming a long history lesson. Between long monologues and recounts of past events, I fought to finish. The latter half of The Name of the Star feels as if it’s a separate story, woven together out of thin air.  I felt tricked, no longer understanding the story’s progression.  Had there been more answers to Rory’s questions, maybe I’d be satisfied as well. But I’m just left wondering how the story gets from point A to point B.

This is a good one if you enjoy mysteries that pull you in multiple directions.  It’s not entirely unpredictable, but more teasing than anything.  Don’t expect to be scared. It’s rather tame. Ultimately, I’m unsure what The Name of the Star tries to achieve.

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

6 Responses to “REVIEW! The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson.”

  1. Have you read any of Maureen Johnson’s contemp books? I’m curious how they compare.

  2. We Heart YA says:

    Really good review. We only read part of NAME OF THE STAR (then the library book was due back, haha) but we agree that it wasn’t completely… even/coherent. Like, we enjoyed it well enough, but we were never totally absorbed or emotionally engaged. We might finish it, just to find out what happened, but… well, we might just enjoy Maureen Johnson’s Twitter stream instead. 😛

    • Alissa says:

      Yes, exactly: never fully engaged. I wanted to be, so badly. But the story never added up.

      I think it’s worth finding out what happens. But if there’s a sequel (which I’m betting there is one already planned), I probably wouldn’t attempt it.

TGR’s 2nd blog birthday!

TGR’s 2nd blog birthday!

Jul
26

14 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Discussion, News

 

It’s TGR’s 2nd blog birthday!

It really doesn’t feel like I’ve been blogging and managing a site for two full years. It still feels like I started just yesterday. To think that I’ve come this far, and gotten through all the ups and downs I’ve encountered, I’m proud. TGR may be young, but it’s not that  young.

In the past year, TGR has really grown:

It made the switch from Blogger to WordPress. (Guide here.)

It introduced a new feature.

Of course, as the sole operator of TGR, I’ve grown too in the past year:

I pursued a new project.

I took the time to appreciate what TGR has done for me, and thanked all of you in this wonderful community. (We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for each other.)

I met Sarah Dessen at my first-ever author signing.

And I’ve read some really  awesome books.

—————————————————————————

The thing about book blogging is that it isn’t solely about the books. In fact, a lot of book blogging is about the book bloggers. And this past year has been very kind to me in that department. I’ve not only met new bloggers, but also grown closer to those I met two years ago. Yes, blogging is a lot of work, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. And the friendships I’ve formed are irreplaceable. I don’t view those that I’ve met or gotten to know only as book bloggers; I view them as friends.We may live all over the world, but we’re still there for each other. They make blogging worthwhile.

So thank you, my lovely friends. I hope to read and share many more books with all of you.

One of the most important things I’ve learned this past year about blogging is that blogging is about giving back. And I don’t mean through giveaways. It’s about giving back to all the authors who consistently aid our never ending reading needs. It’s about treating each other with respect, and passing along good books. It’s about coming together and sharing knowledge.

It’s not about sacrificing your personal life, your job, or having fun. Book blogging isn’t simply what you make of it, but also who you make it with.

Happy birthday, TGR!

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

14 Responses to “TGR’s 2nd blog birthday!”

  1. Happy 2 years! *throws confetti into the air* Your post is perfect <3

  2. Nafiza says:

    Happy 2nd Birthday to TGR. I feel like we’re raising toddlers. Hehe.

  3. Happy Birthday to The Grammarian’s Reviews! *does a birthday dance*

  4. We Heart YA says:

    Hear hear! And happy blog birthday! We’re so glad to be part of the party. 🙂

  5. Cialina says:

    Aw yay!!! Happy blog birthday, Alissa! 🙂

  6. Liz. R says:

    Happy second blogoversary! Here’s to another great year :). And a lot of book blogging is definitely about the bloggers – you meet so many nice people this way! I’m also very jealous that you got to meet Sarah Dessen.

  7. Anne says:

    Happy birthday! Good luck with your next year and I can’t wait to work with you more in the future!

Deadly Little Lessons by Laurie Faria Stolarz (book review)

Deadly Little Lessons by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Camelia’s junior year of high school is finally over…but her troubles aren’t. After she discovers a painful truth about her family, she escapes to a summer arts program in Rhode Island, determined to put family – and boyfriend – dramas behind her.

At the arts school, she gets caught up in the case of Sasha Beckerman, a local girl who’s gone missing. Even though all signs suggest that the teen ran away, Camelia senses otherwise. Eager to help the girl, she launches her own investigation. While reviewing the details online, she stumbles across a blog by someone named Neal Moche, a fellow psychometric. With Ben away, Camelia feels as if she’s found a kindred spirit in Neal. That sense of connection also makes Camelia realize how much she misses Ben, despite being committed to Adam.

But time is running out for Sasha, and Camelia will have to trust her powers more than ever. Will the lessons she has learned give her the strength to save Sasha before it’s too late?

336 pages | Published: December 18, 2012 | Hyperion Books for Children

MY THOUGHTS:

I never really thought this would happen – giving anything in the Touch series less than four stars.  But, I digress.

If anything, read this for the romance.  It’s worth it, I promise.

Buuuuuuut, if you’re looking for more from Camelia, forget about it. This installment begins with a VERY CRUCIAL plot twist, which immediately takes you to the edge of your seat, but just as quickly pushes you back for the long haul.  Camelia doesn’t step up to the plate enough for me.  Again, I was left wishing for more character growth.  We’re given so many details and bits and pieces, but they don’t add up to anything.  She’s like a blank slate. And with the series being this late in the game, my expectations only become higher. And, needless to say, they weren’t fulfilled.

The mystery aspect is, as usual, enticing and invigorating.  It had me scouring each word for clues.  But, again, it takes center stage, rather than Camelia.  I went in hoping for a little bit more from our usual cast, and was sorely disappointed.  A lot of it is repetition, of Camelia trying to make sense of her powers and feelings.  While I understand that this is still a process for her, as the reader I needed more. Or some sort of change.  A different angle.

Just when the story starts getting good and showing signs of progression, it ends.  It’s as if the only real Camelia moments are saved for the beginning and ending.  For me, this is frustrating.  I needed to see the bigger picture, or the purpose of it all, throughout the story.  When everything hit me at the end, I still had unanswered questions and knew the characters no better than I did from when I started.

If these were meant to be purely stand-alone mystery novels, I’d be better able to forgo the lack of character development and interaction.  But they’re not.  Yes, they deal with stand-alone mysteries, but the overall arching plot revolves around Camelia.  And if she’s a dud, her story becomes a dud.

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

2 Responses to “REVIEW! Deadly Little Lessons (Touch Series #5) by Laurie Faria Stolarz.”

  1. Liz. R says:

    Aw, it’s a shame you didn’t love this one as much as the others! The series does sound great overall though, and I’m really intrigued by the romance you mention. I might have to start this series soon – maybe in the summer when I have unlimited reading time! Fab review :).

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick (review)

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase’s family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

304 pages | Published: June 14, 2012 | Penguin Group USA, Inc.

MY THOUGHTS:

Can I just say that Sam and Jase may be my new favorite contemporary YA couple? Really. Jase is the fictional boyfriend I’ve been looking for all along.

Fitzpatrick makes these characters sing. They’re so real and dynamic, always working with each other. I’ve never before seen so many characters flow together.

That being said, I think this plot attempts to tackle a lot, and succeeds in tackling half of it. From politics, to drugs, to sex, to best friends, to boyfriends, to exes – there’s a lot to be said. And most of the time, Fitzpatrick gets the messages across. But the latter portion of the book nosedives so fiercely and suddenly, and doesn’t have enough time to recover. I just wanted more, more, more. It left me feeling like someone stomped on my heart and tried to put it back to normal…unsuccessfully. The resolution feels like a cop-out. When it says “the bottom drops out of her world,” Fitzpatrick wasn’t kidding. In the turn of a page the story goes from a super high to a super low. (Keep tissues handy. Just in case.)

Nevertheless, be prepared to be captivated very early on, even though it’s strange at first. The plot points (although whacky later), are spaced in a way that’s so seemingly seamless and fluid.  You get from Point A to Point B to Point C without ever feeling as if something’s been done just to create this new niche in the story.

If anything, read it for the romance. Really. It’s too darn perfect. Everybody will want a Garrett.

I know I do.

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

5 Responses to “REVIEW! My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick.”

  1. Alissa. I am INTRIGUED by this book. INTRIGUED. (Also, I like romance. Like, a lot.)

  2. We Heart YA says:

    Oh yeah, we definitely do. 😉

    We felt very similarly too you on pretty much all fronts, and are glad to know we’re not the only ones!

  3. […] Reviews: Goodreads Tar Heel Bibliobabe: 5 of 5 Stars (@theelbibliobabe) The Grammarian’s Reviews: 4 of 5 Stars […]

Welcome

The Grammarian's Reviews is a book blog avidly promoting the importance of grammar, reading and writing.

*This site is now proudly powered by WordPress. Be sure to follow the RSS feed, located below!


Find Me

Follow Me on Pinterest

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Search

Archives

Link Back!


<a href="/"><img src="http://i40.tinypic.com/efjtxj.png" alt="The Grammarians Reviews" border="0"></a>