Review: Tanya Bakes

Tanya Bakes Book ReviewTitle: Tanya Bakes
Author: Tanya Burr
Publisher: Penguin Random House UK
Publication Date: June 30, 2016
Genre: Cookbook

About Tanya Bakes: Following the phenomenally successful Love, Tanya, Tanya Burr is back with her very first cookbook. In Tanya Bakes, she shares her passion for baking along with all her favourite recipes. As well as cakes and bakes, readers will love Tanya’s delicious and simple puddings, loaves and pastries.

From everyday staple bakes to sweet treats for special occasions, Tanya’s got the perfect recipe, every time:
– Tanya’s Ultimate Celebration Cake
– Banoffee Pie
– Salted Caramel Cheesecake
– Rhubarb and Custard Muffins
– Earl Grey Tea Loaf
– Tanya’s Nanny’s Apple Pie
– Smarties Flapjacks

So make yourself at home in the kitchen with Tanya and treat yourself, your friends and family to something delicious!

Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Review: I have a slight addiction to reading cookbooks and eating good food so when PRHC asked me if I wanted to review Tanya Bakes I was more than happy to oblige. First, I want to talk about this book cover.  It might be the most beautiful cookbook I’ve laid my eyes on.  From the bright and festive background to the gorgeous birthday cake and the text flanked by tiny gold stars. The goodness doesn’t stop with the cover.  The recipes inside are divine.

I’m a mom of three girls so there’s a lot of food talk in my house. One of my daughter’s has an affinity for baking so when Tanya Bakes cookbook showed up at our house she squealed with delight. A few recipes she and I earmarked for weekend baking include Salted Nutella Cookies – six ingredients to what sounds like the best cookie ever. Peaches & Cream Muffins – we are saving this one up for August when fresh, local peaches are abundant and sure to take these muffins over the top. Lemon Drizzle Loaf – I cannot pass up a slice of lemon loaf and will always choose it over chocolate.  Pineapple Upside Down Cake – this is the quintessential dessert of the 1970’s and still going strong in 2018. And finally, Birthday Cake (pictured on the cover) – my little baker requested this one for her birthday next week, surely because it’s decorated with ten million candy sprinkles and a fistful of birthday candles!

If you love cakes, loaves, puddings, and breads, which I think just about everyone does, then you need this cookbook!



Book Review: What Happened

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton
What Happened
Author: Hillary Rodham Clinton
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: September 12, 2017

From Simon & Schuster: For the first time, Hillary Rodham Clinton reveals what she was thinking and feeling during one of the most controversial and unpredictable presidential elections in history. Now free from the constraints of running, Hillary takes you inside the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules. This is her most personal memoir yet.

In these pages, she describes what it was like to run against Donald Trump, the mistakes she made, how she has coped with a shocking and devastating loss, and how she found the strength to pick herself back up afterward. With humor and candor, she tells readers what it took to get back on her feet—the rituals, relationships, and reading that got her through, and what the experience has taught her about life. She speaks about the challenges of being a strong woman in the public eye, the criticism over her voice, age, and appearance, and the double standard confronting women in politics.

She lays out how the 2016 election was marked by an unprecedented assault on our democracy by a foreign adversary. By analyzing the evidence and connecting the dots, Hillary shows just how dangerous the forces are that shaped the outcome, and why Americans need to understand them to protect our values and our democracy in the future.

The election of 2016 was unprecedented and historic. What Happened is the story of that campaign and its aftermath—both a deeply intimate account and a cautionary tale for the nation.

My Review: Hillary Clinton continues to blow me away! Listening to WHAT HAPPENED, which she narrates (I love when authors narrate their own books!) is exactly the book I needed in my life right now with the deplorable political climate in the U.S., and no improvement in immediate sight.

I have been a strong supporter of the Clinton’s since 1992, my final year of high school, the year I could legally vote and I voted for Bill Clinton, both terms. I admired Hillary as an incredibly strong First Lady and later U.S. Senator. My admiration for her blossomed when she announced her run for presidency in 2007. The last time the country had any shred of hope of a woman candidate dates back to Geraldine Ferraro’s run for Vice President in 1984. 1984 people!!

What Happened is authentic, insightful, sharp, and a painful reminder women are still trying to penetrate the glass ceiling. It’s also a hard core look at the radical political climate. This book is excellent and important. Read (or listen) to this book!

Book Review: Lab Girl

IMG_0815Title: Lab Girl
Author: Hope Jahren
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

From Vintage: Geobiologist Hope Jahren has spent her life studying trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Lab Girl is her revelatory treatise on plant life—but it is also a celebration of the lifelong curiosity, humility, and passion that drive every scientist. In these pages, Hope takes us back to her Minnesota childhood, where she spent hours in unfettered play in her father’s college laboratory. She tells us how she found a sanctuary in science, learning to perform lab work “with both the heart and the hands.” She introduces us to Bill, her brilliant, eccentric lab manager. And she extends the mantle of scientist to each one of her readers, inviting us to join her in observing and protecting our environment. Warm, luminous, compulsively readable, Lab Girl vividly demonstrates the mountains that we can move when love and work come together.

My Review: LAB GIRL is a scientific, biographical memoir depicting the author’s personal journey becoming a woman in science filled to the brim with passion, drive, emotion and rawness. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Jahren and adore when authors narrate their own books because the transference of their feelings and emotions is so real and true to the story. But, if you aren’t a fan of loads of science-y information and a fairly dry prose then this book may not be for you.

A fusion of science and poetry, LAB GIRL opens the door to a front row seat at the arduous and often inane efforts necessary to become a paid scientist and more so for women. Raised in her father’s science lab at a local community college, Jahren learned first hand the attention to detail and long hours required to make it in the profession and the lab quickly became Jahren’s safe haven.

Jahren’s focus is singular, her every breath revolves around having her own lab. She’s often awkward, comes across as both unresponsive and interested and she’s a loner. She has a long running platonic relationship with her equally brilliant and awkward lab manager, Bill Hagopian, who is part of her employment package deal. Later she marries another scientist, Clint Conrad, starts a family and faces the delicate balance between her career, family and her manic depressive episodes. I appreciate the beauty in Jahren’s love and dedication for science and the analogies between her subjects and career.

Book Review: When Breath Becomes Air

IMG_0445Title: When Breath Becomes Air
Author: Paul Kalanithi
Format: Hardcover
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5
Quote: “I knew with certainty I would never be a doctor.”

I found it unsettling wanting to read a memoir written by a man who wouldn’t live to see it published yet drawn to his story because he was a brilliant and gifted surgeon, researcher and writer whose short life was spent searching for meaning.  When Breath Becomes Air is the posthumous work of Paul Kalanithi and epilogue by his wife Lucy, that takes us on a deep and personal journey facing his own mortality and learning to live a life with meaning.  After a gruelling decade training to become a neurosurgeon on the cusp of great things, Kalanithi was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer at the young age of thirty-six.

This story is hard to bear.  I was deeply moved by Kalanithi’s dual perspectives both as the doctor and the patient. His story is human and factual, void of self-pity and overflowing with compassion and bravery.  He also shares his marital struggles which come as no surprise with the pressure he and Lucy faced during their residencies.  In a morbid sense the disease strengthens their marriage and they have a child.  I liked this book a lot and came to admire and respect the author.

Dr. Kalanithi opens his memoir certain he would never become a doctor, “I knew medicine only by its absence – specifically, the absence of a father growing up, one who went to work before dawn and returned in the dark to a plate of reheated dinner.” Considering a career as a writer, he earned two degrees in English literature at Stanford before studying medicine at Yale.  Kalanithi wove together his studies in literature and neurosciences connecting the dots between biology, mortality, literature and philosophy, which compelled him to neurosurgery with it’s “unforgiving call to perfection.”  Before getting sick, I found his earlier stories fascinating. The sheer precision required under such exhausting conditions puts into perspective this line of work was truly his calling.

Kalanithi was conflicted with planning the rest of his life uncertain whether he would live a few months, five years or ten years.  When the combination of chemotherapy and long days in surgery were too much to bear he decided to write this book including us in his search for a meaningful life. Kalanithi faced his own mortality with grace, each stage met with a certain vulnerability.