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Book Blog: A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker

Posted by on Sep 13, 2019 in Blog, book blog | 0 comments

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker
out now; Indiebound, B&N, and Amazon

song for a new day

 

I received an advance copy of this book via NetGalley.

I’m a big fan of Sarah Pinsker’s work. I adored her collection Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea [reviewed here] and have been genuinely excited that her first novel would be inspired by her fantastic novelette “Our Lady of the Open Road.” The book absolutely lived up to my high expectations.

Pinsker’s science fiction is eerily plausible: a near-future world where a series of terrorist attacks and illness with high mortality have led to laws against congregations of people. Society fully embraces the digital and insular, relying on drone delivery for most all goods and on virtual experiences for dating, sports events, and–most notably for this book–concerts, with StageHoloLive being the major purveyor of much entertainment.

Enter the two protagonists: Luce, a gifted musician on the cusp of going big when the world fell apart, and Rosemary, a young woman rendered agoraphobic by her parents and culture, but who perkily heads out to find undercover musical acts as part of her new job for StageHoloLive. All of the characters in the book are nuanced and realistic, and Pinsker’s own background in bands completely grounds the world. This develops into a book with some shades of Charles de Lint’s works, yet with an original, fresh approach to a timeless theme: a celebration of music, of EXPERIENCING music, of how much more is involved than merely listening.

This book is beautiful, and its deep message will linger with me for a long while.

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Bready or Not: Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars [cake mix]

Posted by on Sep 11, 2019 in Blog, Bready or Not, brownies, cake mix, chocolate | 0 comments

These Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars are so good that people won’t even guess that it uses cake mix.

Bready or Not: Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars [cake mix]

I, personally, don’t see any shame in using cake mix. It’s a convenient base ingredient to doctor up.

Bready or Not: Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars [cake mix]

Chocolate and peanut butter is such a classic pairing. You can use any number of chocolate cake mixes for this (it was tested with a 15.25 ounce box), but I recommend devil’s food cake. It has a nice depth to it.

Bready or Not: Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars [cake mix]

If you’re in America, you might find a premade bag of peanut butter and chocolate chips at stores like Walmart. If you can’t find that, just use separate bags of those kinds of chips and measure out a cup of each.

Bready or Not: Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars [cake mix]

At my husband’s work, some of his co-workers considered this among their all-time favorite recipes. That is high praise indeed.

Bready or Not: Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars [cake mix]

 

Bready or Not: Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars [cake mix]

This easy-to-make recipe is so good that people won't even know it uses cake mix!
Course: Dessert, Snack
Keyword: bars, cake mix, chocolate
Author: Beth Cato

Ingredients

  • 1 box chocolate cake mix 15.25 oz
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter melted
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 bag peanut butter and chocolate chips or 1 cup of each kind of chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts

Instructions

  • Preheat oven at 350-degrees. Line a 9x13 pan with foil and apply nonstick spray.
  • In a big bowl, combine the cake mix, melted butter, and milk. Spread half of batter on bottom of the pan. Bake for 15 minutes.
  • Place peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl and warm to be spreadable. Pour over the baked bottom crust and spread to edges. Sprinkle the peanut butter and chocolate chips on top, followed by dollops of the reserved cake batter. Finish with the chopped peanuts.
  • Bake for another 20 minutes, until the visible portions of the peanut butter layer look set. Cool completely, refrigerating if desired.
  • Use foil to lift onto cutting board to slice into bars. Store in a sealed container at room temperature.
  • OM NOM NOM!
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Book Blog: The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner

Posted by on Sep 6, 2019 in Blog, book blog | 0 comments

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner
out now; Indiebound, B&N, and Amazon

okay witch

I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley.

The Okay Witch is more than okay. It’s absolutely charming. I adored this graphic novel and everything about it–art, story, characters, EVERYTHING. Moth is thirteen and doesn’t fit in at school–and when she suddenly discovers she has magical powers, that doesn’t exactly help much. This is a story packed with genuine heart. The tone is light, but there are heady issues addressed with a delicate hand. Moth is a wonderful, relatable heroine, but the entire cast is fantastic–including a talking cat who threatens to steal the whole show. I loved, loved, loved how inclusive it is. A subplot involving the said talking cat and a beloved actually made me get teary-eyed at one point.

I mean, really. Start reading because it’s about magic and a smart girl and because the art is fantastic, and keep reading because you find everything about this book is fantastic. This is not only a 5-star read for me, but I’m adding it to my nomination list for the Norton Award.

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Bready or Not: Coconut Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Posted by on Sep 4, 2019 in Blog, Bready or Not, breakfast, bundt, cake, cheese galore | 0 comments

This stunning Coconut Cream Cheese Pound Cake is gorgeous and delicious, and will win over even people like me that are not big coconut fans.

Bready or Not: Coconut Cream Cheese Pound Cake

This cake works for me because the cream cheese creates a rich, tender crumb, and the coconut adds a lovely chewiness to it all.

Bready or Not: Coconut Cream Cheese Pound Cake

The cake ends up being chewy, but not too chewy; sweet, but not cloyingly. Really, that makes this great as a breakfast, brunch, or dessert cake.

Bready or Not: Coconut Cream Cheese Pound Cake

I highly recommend reserving some coconut to sprinkle on top, too. It adds a certain oomph.

Bready or Not: Coconut Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Serve this as cake alone, or like with any pound cake, it would be lovely alongside fresh fruit.

Bready or Not: Coconut Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Modified from Cookies and Cups.

 

Bready or Not: Coconut Cream Cheese Pound Cake

This easy-to-make bundt cake creates a gorgeous and delicious cake that is perfect for breakfast, brunch, or dessert.
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Keyword: bundt cake, cake, cream cheese
Author: Beth Cato

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 cup unsalted butter 2 sticks, room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese 1 box, room temperature
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 6 eggs room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups shredded flaked coconut

Glaze

  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2-3 Tablespoons milk
  • extra shredded coconut

Instructions

  • Preheat oven at 325-degrees. Coat a 10-cup bundt pan with nonstick spray or butter.
  • In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add sugar and mix until light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract, salt, and baking powder. Gradually mix in the flour until just combined, then fold in the coconut.
  • Pour batter into pan and distribute evenly. Bake for 75 to 80 minutes, until it passes the toothpick test.
  • Cool pan for 20 minutes, then invert the cake onto a wire rack to completely cool. Move to a plate or cake platter.
  • To make the glaze, stir together the confectioners' sugar and milk to form a smooth yet thick consistency. Pour or spoon glaze over the top, then sprinkle with additional coconut.
  • OM NOM NOM!
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Bready or Not Original: Churro Krispies

Posted by on Aug 28, 2019 in Blog, Bready or Not, no-bake dessert | 0 comments

Use the new Churros Cereal to make a fast no-bake treat in the mode of Rice Krispies!

Bready or Not Original: Churro Krispies

As the Once-and-Future High Priestess of Churromancy in the Holy Taco Church, I cannot observe a product like Churros Cereal and simply walk by. No, I must experiment with it in the kitchen.

Bready or Not Original: Churro Krispies

I resolved to adapt this cereal in the mode of Rice Krispies. The first thing I discovered: the box contains more cereal than needed for this process. Measure out 1.5 cups of the cereal to use in some other way, like for cereal (I know, a shock) or eat it straight, because the large pieces actually work well for that.

Bready or Not Original: Churro Krispies

The bulk of the box’s contents, though, get coated in a mix of butter and marshmallows to create an ooey, gooey, delicious treat.

Bready or Not Original: Churro Krispies

Yeah, there’s absolutely nothing healthy about this, but it sure tastes good.

Bready or Not Original: Churro Krispies

 

Bready or Not Original: Churro Krispies

This Bready or Not original uses Churros Cereal to create a Rice Krispies-style no-bake treat. Using the microwave makes the process especially fast, but this could certainly be done using a large pot on the stove.
Course: Dessert
Keyword: churros, no bake
Author: Beth Cato

Ingredients

  • 6 cups Churros Cereal
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 10 ounces jumbo or mini marshmallows 1 bag

Instructions

  • Prepare a 13x9 pan with nonstick spray. There are about 7 1/2 cups of Churros Cereal in the box, so measure out 1 1/2 cups to set aside for some other use.
  • In very large microwave-safe bowl, watch closely as the butter and marshmallows are heated on HIGH for 1 minute. Stir well. Heat for another 30 seconds and stir again; heat more if necessary. But once it stirs to be smooth, proceed immediately to the next step.
  • Add the 6 cups of Churros cereal to the bowl and completely coat.
  • Promptly pour the sticky mess into the prepared pan and use waxed paper or a greased spatula to press it down. Cool completely before cutting. Serve out of dish or pack into a sealed container with waxed paper between stacked layers. Best eaten the same day.
  • OM NOM NOM!
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CoKoCon 2019 Schedule

Posted by on Aug 23, 2019 in Blog, public speaking | 0 comments

CoKoCon takes place over Labor Day weekend at the Doubletree at MetroCenter in north Phoenix. I’ll be there Friday until Monday morning, with a packed schedule of panels. This is a fantastic small con. If you’re in the area, grab a membership and come by.

I have one scheduled booksigning time on Sunday but really, so long as I don’t need to rush to a panel or to eat, I’m happy to stop, talk, and sign stuff. There’s an awesome local bookseller on-site named Duncan who will have lots of my books for sale, too.

Yes, I will have cookies BUT note that if it’s like last year, I cannot feed people in common areas or the con could get in trouble with the venue. I can only share cookies in the con suite or in party rooms.

A mobile device-friendly version of my schedule can also be found here and includes full descriptions. Changes to my schedule will be posted on Twitter and Facebook.

Friday, August 30

5pm
Selling Yourself: Author Branding for Fun and (Hopefully) Profit
Canyon 3, 5pm – 6pm

8pm
Twisted Tropes: Writing Stale Tropes Like Unicorns and Vampires in Fresh New Ways
Canyon 3, 8pm – 9pm

Saturday, August 31

10am
Book Discussion: All Systems Red
Lobby Pit, 10am – 11am

11:30am
A Courtesy of Compliments
Terrace, 11:30am – 12:30pm

1pm
Steampunk Round Table
Terrace, 1pm – 2pm

7:30pm
Writing and Gaming: How RPGs and Video Games Influence Your Writing
Canyon 3, 7:30pm – 8:30pm

Sunday, September 1

11:30am
Author Self-Care: Spoon Management
Canyon 3, 11:30am – 12:30pm

1pm
Signing: Beth Cato and Judith Starkston
Dealers’ Room, 1pm – 2pm

2:30pm
How to Critique
Canyon 3, 2:30pm – 3:30pm

6pm
Surviving Historical Fiction Research
Canyon 3, 6pm – 7pm

#SFWAPro

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