The Great Guilt-Free Bake Off!

The title of this review just had to be done really. It’s in honour of The Great British Bake Off finally airing next week. Seriously, guys, if you don’t watch it, you have to!

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Title: Guilt-Free Baking
Author: Gee Charman
Series: N/A
Edition: Hardcover, 176 pages
Published: September 18th 2014 by Duncan Baird Publishers
Genre(s): Non Fiction; Cookery; Baking
Disclosure? Yep, I received an advanced copy in exchange for an HONEST review.
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The recipe lists includes:

• Cacao and wholegrain cookies
• Clementine and almond traybake
• Fruity flap-jacks
• Victoria sponge cupcakes
• Carrot and spelt muffins
• Lime finger biscuits
• Sour cherry and almond biscotti
• Saffron biscotti
• Bourbons
• Jaffa cakes
• Lemon drizzle cake
• Banana bread muffins
• Lemon cheese cake
• and much more!

I’ve never reviewed a cook book before, so when I saw this on NetGalley, I thought why the hell not!?

Firstly, I enjoy baking. I wouldn’t say I’m great at it, but I’m not terrible either. However, I do have one problem with it – when you make something yummy, you obviously have to eat it – and I do, all of it! So I tend to avoid it when I’m trying to be good.

Guilt-Free Baking has some great recipes which are lower in calories than your average sweet treats, so you can enjoy the baking and the results – hurrah!

I thought this book had a great mixture of recipes, everything from biscuits to tray bakes, and celebration cakes to more things you can do with meringues than I ever imagined. I would have been more than happy to try nearly all of the recipes. The ingredients are simple – nothing you couldn’t find at your supermarket – and the instructions were easy to follow.

I really loved that the quantities were given in cups and metric, because I hate measuring things, and the photos were beautiful too. I did wish that there were more photos though. Some of the recipes didn’t have them and I hate making something not knowing how it’s supposed to look. Not that I can ever get it to look the same, but y’know, something to aim for is always good.

A lot of the recipes use similar calorie-saving techniques such as fruit instead of sugar, and natural yogurt or fruit syrups & pureés instead of fat which obviously isn’t a new concept, but worked well in the recipes I tried at least.

I gave the Mocha Squares Tray Bake a bash, with a few tweaks (I’m not very good at following recipes sometimes). I doubled the amount of coffee as I love the strong coffee flavour but it definitely still wasn’t enough! And made a butter icing – yeah I know, not exactly low-calorie but WHATEVER. It was yum.

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I also gave the Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes a go, but I didn’t want to buy any aerosol cream because I’d never use the rest of it, so I bought some Nutella instead and converted them into Strawberries and Hazlenut Chocolate cupcakes.

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All in all, they were both a success! Guilt-Free Baking does exactly what it says on the cover, and it does it well. I might have to buy a copy when it comes out!

unicorn rating 4

Guilt-Free Baking is available to pre-order from Waterstones now.

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WWW Wednesday 30.07.14

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To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading? • What did you recently finish reading? • What do you think you’ll read next?

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Currently Reading:
I’m just about to start One of Us by Tawni O’Dell which is an ARC review. It sounds pretty creepy.

Recently Finished:
This week I finished The Princess Bride by William Goldman which was great, and The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas which I have mixed feelings about because I’m not a huge fan of novellas…but it was good a collection. Review to follow.

Up Next:
After taking a quick ARC break I’m back to the TBR pile to try and catch up on the TBR Reading Pile challenge. It could be Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides, or Godmother by Carolyn Turgeon…or let’s face it, about a hundred others.

What about you lot?

Top Ten Tuesday: Battle of the Authors

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the image to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is: The Top Ten Authors You Own the Most Books By.

Ooooh I liked this one! There’s something really satisfying about having multiple books by the same author. I particularly enjoy my Derek Landy shelf because I have them all in hardback and they’re beautiful!

Firstly, here is my main bookshelf in all its glory. It’s actually quite tidy at the moment.

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1. Darren Shan (16)

  • The Saga of Darren Shan (12)
  • The City Trilogy (as D.B Shan, 3)
  • Lady of the Shades

2. Derek Landy (10)

  • Skulduggery Pleasant (9)
  • The Maleficent Seven

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3. William Shakespeare (9)

  • Hamlet
  • Othello (2)
  • King Lear
  • Twelfth Night
  • The Tempest
  • The Complete works of… (2)
  • Tales from Shakespeare

4. C.S Lewis (8)

  • The Chronicles of Narnia (7)
  • That Hideous Strength

5. Scarlett Thomas (7)

  • Dead Clever
  • Bright Young Things
  • Going Out
  • PopCo
  • The End of Mr Y
  • Our Tragic Universe
  • Monkeys with Typewriters

6. Rachel Caine (7)

  • The Morganville Vampires (7)

 

7. R .L Stine (6)

  • Assorted Point Horror (6)

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= Philip Pullman (6)

  • His Dark Materials (3)
  • Sally Lockhart (2)
  • Clockwork 

=Stephenie Meyer (6)

  • Twilight (4)
  • The Host

8. Stephen King (5)

  • The Shining/Doctor Sleep (2)
  • Needful Things
  • Cujo
  • Under the Dome

9. James Frey (4)

  • A Million Little Pieces/ My Friend Leonard (2)
  • Bright Shiny Morning
  • The Final Testament of the Holy Bible

10. Bateman (4)

  • Mystery Man (4)

I could keep going with the 4’s for a while  but I won’t. I also felt like I should have included Alice Hoffman and Susan Hill because I’ve read so many books by them, but for one reason or another I haven’t kept them all.

I’m especially interested to see everyone else’s list this week – feel free to leave a link to yours 🙂

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

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Title: The Princess Bride
Author: William Goldman
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 399 Pages
Published: October 20th 1999 by Bloomsbury (first published 1973)
Genre(s): Fantasy; Adventure; Classics
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it!

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What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be…well…a lot less than the man of her dreams?

As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad’s recitation, and only the “good parts” reached his ears.

Now Goldman does Dad one better. He’s reconstructed the “Good Parts Version” to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere.

What’s it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.

In short, it’s about everything.

I feel like this is quite a hard book to review because the story is so iconic, thanks in the most part to the cult film. Whether you grew up with the film like I did or not, I’m sure most people are at least aware of it.

The Princess Bride is mainly about the strong-willed and beautiful Buttercup and her one true love Westley, who have to overcome all odds to be together.

It’s not very often that I see the film before reading the book either, and in this case I’d seen the film a lot. But I needn’t have worried, because I loved the book just as much.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy the introduction and commentary from Goldman, but I really did. I found it fascinating to hear about his love of the original book despite never having actually read it himself, all of the issues in getting the book to the big screen, and the conversations between him and his editor and lawyer.

But clearly, the best thing about the book is the adventure story. There’s plenty of action, close escapes and sword fights, all wrapped-up in a slightly bizarre satirical package. You get a bit more of a back story to the main characters too, and I totally fell in love with Inigo Montoya, much more than I did in the film.

It’s a classic fantasy story that appeals to all ages, which I think is quite rare these days. I could literally recommend it to anyone and everyone.

unicorn rating 4

The Princess Bride is available in paperback from Waterstones now. See how you can get 10% off here!

YALC UK 2014 Book Haul

I meant to post this like two weeks ago. Better late than never, right?

Here are the books I picked up at the Young Adult Literature Convention & London Comic Con earlier this month.

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These books were all free. Girl done good. I’ve already read and reviewed Immortal Beloved. The Mission is the second in a series, so I need to find the first one, The Hit first. I love the vivid yellow pages though. I’m also really intrigued by the new Scott Westerfeld book. I was lucky enough to grab the last proof copy they had.

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These two were from Hot Key Books’ genius bookswap. I’ve been meaning to read Ally Condie’s series for ages so I was really pleased to pick up a copy. Embers was a good find too, there was a tag in the book to tweet about finding it, and the author got in touch to say that she will send me the other two books in the trilogy if I like this one. YAY thanks, Amy!

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There was also a free sci-fi book stand at LFCC to spread the work about the 72nd World Science Fiction convention held in London next month. These ones took my fancy!

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After attending the Going Graphic talk, I had to buy this Manga Shakespeare Hamlet, and got it signed by the lovely Emma.

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This was my own copy of my favourite Sedgwick book which I took to get signed. He was so lovely. And I love that he drew me a coffin.

You can read my YALC experience in full here, if you so wish.

Friday Feature: Man Booker Prize Time Again

I’m pretty sure that last year I decided that no one really cares about the Man Booker Prize, but I still can’t help being intrigued as to what’s made the list.

Following last year’s controversy when it was announced that the prize was being opened up to International authors (with UK Publisher) after 46 years, it seems the longlist is not quite as overrun by American authors as some feared, although they do make up a third of the entries.

The most interesting thing about the nominees this year though, I think, is that one of the novels was funded entirely by its readers. The Wake, by Paul Kingsnorth is the first crowdfunded novel to ever be nominated for such a prestigious literary prize. And I must say, it sounds like one of the more interesting reads on the list.

thewakeEveryone knows the date of the Battle of Hastings. Far fewer people know what happened next…Set in the three years after the Norman invasion, The Wake tells the story of a fractured band of guerilla fighters who take up arms against the invaders. Carefully hung on the known historical facts about the almost forgotten war of resistance that spread across England in the decade after 1066, it is a story of the brutal shattering of lives, a tale of lost gods and haunted visions, narrated by a man of the Lincolnshire fens bearing witness to the end of his world. Written in what the author describes as ‘a shadow tongue’ – a version of Old English updated so as to be understandable for the modern reader – The Wake renders the inner life of an Anglo-Saxon man with an accuracy and immediacy rare in historical fiction. To enter Buccmaster’s world is to feel powerfully the sheer strangeness of the past.

The Longlist in Full

Joshua Ferris (American) – To Rise Again at a Decent Hour (Viking)

Richard Flanagan (Australian) – The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Chatto & Windus)

Karen Joy Fowler (American) – We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Serpent’s Tail)

Siri Hustvedt (American) – The Blazing World (Sceptre)

Howard Jacobson (British) – J (Jonathan Cape)

Paul Kingsnorth (British) – The Wake (Unbound)

David Mitchell (British) – The Bone Clocks (Sceptre)

Neel Mukherjee (British) – The Lives of Others (Chatto & Windus)

David Nicholls (British) – Us (Hodder & Stoughton)

Joseph O’Neill (Irish/American) – The Dog (Fourth Estate)

Richard Powers (American) – Orfeo (Atlantic Books)

Ali Smith (British) – How to be Both (Hamish Hamilton)

Niall Williams (Irish) – History of the Rain (Bloomsbury)

The Shortlist will be announced 9th Sept

More info on the nominees and titles

Thoughts?

Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts #6

This meme is hosted by the Bookishly Boisterous and the idea is simple. It’s a round-up of your week, in and out of book world. A place to store your thoughts, and basically anything you’d like to share on your blog.

It’s been a while since I did one of these posts so there should be lots to talk about but….

1. Why is it that every time I come to write this post I completely forget about all the things I wanted say? It’s like a curse. I even leave links to things I wanted to mention in a draft post, but by the time I come to write it, I’ve forgotten what I had to say about it. Must try harder.

2. Does anyone remember Jim Henson’s The Storyteller? I loved it so much. My memory of it was jogged because it’s being made into a graphic novel and it looks stunning. I’m kind of on a graphic novel kick since Comic Con a few weekends back. But more on that later.

Archaia, the official publisher of Jim Henson comics and graphic novels, is launching a new comics miniseries based on one of Henson’s franchises. The Storyteller: Witches will focus on different folk tales just like the television series from the late ’80s. The Storyteller featured a narrator sitting in a cozy chair by the fireplace; he told viewers about magical creatures and happenings. As the Storyteller wove his tales, you watched them come to life before your eyes.

More info and photos here!

3. How have I only just discovered Gay of Thrones?????. It’s brilliant.


 
4. I was thinking about publisher websites the other day. I rarely go on them and wonder if maybe I should? I know some publishers have their own reading groups and forums, and some seem to have their own reading services for bloggers. I only really use NetGalley, but now I’m starting to think maybe I’m missing out..Am I…AM I?

5. Two really good things (and one potentially bad thing) came out of my weekend spent at the first YA Lit Convention (YALC) which took place at London Comic Con a couple of weeks ago:

5.1 It definitely seemed to start a buzz about YA in this country and hopefully the genre will continue to go from strength to strength and maybe even gain some credibility – stranger things have happened.

In the News:
The Guardian – Why You Should YA

The Telegraph – YALC Review

Grown-Ups: You can read YA!

5.2. It inspired me to dust off my unfinished YA manuscript which I’ve been ‘working’ on for YEARS. I hadn’t even looked at it for about 18 months, and it was pretty much as bad as I feared, but I’m enjoying the puzzle that is a complete rewrite. For now!

5.3. My slight obsession over Peter Petrelli Milo ventimiglia has come back with a vengeance after seeing him in all his bearded glory at Comic Con. My friend Dora and I had a film night at the weekend consisting of the classic that is Pathology (hot) and this HILARIOUSLY bad Hammer Horror-esque vampire porn. Hello.


 
My review of YALC and LFCC can be found here: Part 1 / Part 2

6. I went to see Begin Again, the new Kiera Knightley film and I actually quite liked it (the trailer looked pretty awful). There’s just something I love about films about musicians. Maybe it’s because I wish I was musical, but I’m so far from it – I barely know what an instrument is. I quite like music-based books too and found this list of YA Music-Based Books on MTV.com the other day. Oh look, my wishlist just expanded.

7. I’ve been back on a healthy eating & more exercise mission the last few weeks. It’s going pretty well. I made THE best tuna burgers the other day. Seriously, THE BEST!

8. I’m kinda over the summer already. I want it to be Winter. I love Winter! I want cosy nights in, hot chocolate, mulled wine and fairy lights, and I want it now. I’m sick of getting sunburnt, I’m sick of hayfever and my constantly itchy face and I got biten all over my legs the other weekend so I’ve had to cover them up. It’s too hot for that. Roll on Christmas.

9. I can’t shake the idea of moving somewhere new. I’ve been wanting to do it for ages but it’s hard to know where to start. I think I need a new adventure.

10. I’ve been using Pinterest for a while and I really like it. It took me a while to figure out what the point of it was, but I think I have now. I’ve started using it to post about my blog too, not many seem to do it, and I wonder why…

Well, that’s what’s been on my mind lately. You should join the fun and tell us what’s on yours!