In which I make a newbie mistake!

I can’t even remember the last time I burned something in the oven. But I very nearly burned these Chocolate Sour Cream cupcakes. When I checked on them after the allotted 20 minutes, they were still sunken and batter-y. So I figured in another 5 minutes, they would be puffed and batter-y and then in 5 more minutes, they’d be puffed and done.

I knew I should check on them in 5 minutes, but it’s still super-hot here and checking on them in 10 minutes would save me from an extra blast of oven air and I was sure they wouldn’t be done by then, so I went back in 10 minutes only to find that they were sunken and crispy around the edges!

I don’t know why they fell like that – or, to be more accurate, they just never rose in the first place. But I didn’t want to just throw them away, so I let them cool and frosted one of them with leftover mascarpone and whipped cream frosting from the Blackest Forest Cake I made a couple of weeks ago. And they’re actually quite good!

Despite being a bit crispy around the edges.

YA Fiction: Sci-fi/Fantasy

Lament by Maggie Stiefvater

I hate myself for liking this book. It won’t make you feel quite as dirty as the Twilight saga (I liked the first one, but by the end of the second, I just wanted to knock some sense into Bella and tell Jacob and Edward that they’d be better off with each other), but it is problematic.

And yet I want to read the second one – what’s wrong with me?!

Mostly, I feel like this is a book I would have written in high school; in fact, I’m sure I started writing a book very much like this when I was in high school. The heroine is Mary Sued up to the teeth – gorgeous, super powerful, amazing harp player, amazing singer; the two guy friends are gorgeous, super powerful, and amazingly talented musically; and there are faeries and Celtic  mythology everywhere!

Also:

  • The love triangle doesn’t quite work – Luke figures much more prominently in the story than James does, so we don’t really get to know James very well or see him interact much with Deirdre. In fact, he confesses his love to her via text message and then they basically don’t share a scene for the rest of the book.
  • The pacing is a bit off, too – everything builds very slowly up until the last fifth of the book and most everything suddenly gets resolved. A few plotlines are left unfinished, but I assume they’ll be addressed in the second book in the series.
  • I don’t really like Deirdre that much. She’s a bit too mopey and ‘Why me?’ and makes a few really stupid decisions. In fact, I had to put the book down before the last 75 pages and walk away for a week or two (to read Kathy Griffin’s book) before I could manage to go back to it.

And yet. I’m totally going to read the next one. Seriously, what’s wrong with me?!

My rating: C

Nonfiction: Memoir

Official Book Club Selection by Kathy Griffin

I know she can be a little divisive – when my mom unwrapped this present at Christmas, my grandmother exclaimed ‘Oh, I can’t stand her!’ – but I (and my mom, obviously) really like Kathy Griffin. So I was intrigued by her memoir. From watching her specials (I’ve never really seen much of My Life on the D-List) and based on her stand-up, which is mostly gossip based), I assumed she would be a fairly superficial person and wasn’t sure she’d have much to say, but I was sure it would be entertaining at least.

Boy, was I proved wrong!

She comes across as a very mature, smart, and, yes, thoughtful person. Like Craig Ferguson, she strikes me as somebody who puts a lot of thought into the decisions she makes. And, man, is she hard working! Talk about paying your dues. No matter if you like her or not, if you read her memoir, you wouldn’t be able to deny that she has worked hard to get where she is and deserves all of her success (such as it is).

And she really seems to honestly enjoy what she does – she’d have to, considering how many setbacks and opposition she’s met along the way – and she knows how lucky she is to get to do something she loves so much.

I think she has a little bit of trouble connecting with the reader and I can’t really put my finger on why I feel that way. She’s very open about her family and her struggles trying to make it in LA and her frustration as everybody but her seemed to be succeeding, but sometimes it still sort of feels like she’s performing a bit. But it wasn’t until she was finished talking about her marriage that I felt like her writing had become more personal.

My rating: B+

p.s. – I’ll admit I was thrown by the chapter on her relationship with Steve Wozniak – I still am not sure what was going on there – but everything else I thoroughly enjoyed.