Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cooking and Booking Review: Ten Tiny Breaths

I owe my friend Megan a huge, ginormous "thank you." She has rekindled my love for reading. Scratch that - she sparked a love of reading in me that I never knew I had. Megan started a book review blog a few months back called The Book Asylum. It's really taken off and there's no question why: she's incredibly articulate, knows what she's talking about (without being a snob), and her passion for reading is downright contagious. I caught what she has; I've got the I-just-love-a-good-book fever.

For the longest time I only really liked non-fiction; the realist in me just couldn't get into many of the novels I'd been assigned in school because I found them hard to believe, unimaginable - just foreign, which is a big reason I got into journalism. I thought life itself was interesting enough - and it can be, but fiction, man, it can be good. It can suck you in, make you fall in love, and occupy your mind all hours of the day. (Whoa. I never thought I'd say that....)

So, for the past few months I've taken Megan's suggestions on books and I always immediately text her when I'm done, explaining that I need my next hit, I mean, my next book, and she always recommends winners.

We both recently just read "Ten Tiny Breaths" by K.A.Tucker and it did not disappoint. Whenever I had a free moment, and sometimes when I should've been doing other things (the laundry piled up quite a bit), I was reading this book. I'll let Megan do the review, but there's tragedy, love, heartache - and a twist that I didn't see coming.

Megan and I decided we'd take note of all the food that was mentioned in the book and I'd come up with a recipe based off of one of the foods: veal parm, Spam and pancakes were a few of the foods mentioned. Pancakes were the easy choice for me, and because both Megan and I have to avoid certain foods, the recipe below is: gluten-free, egg-free, vegan, dairy-free, nut-free and soy-free.

The majority of the book took place in Miami, a place known for amazing Cuban food, so this recipe, with its masa harina and fresh lime, is Miami inspired.

Masa Harina Pancakes w/Lime, Butter and Brown Sugar

1 cup masa harina (it can be found in the International aisle of your grocery store)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar (I used coconut sugar)
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups water

2 tablespoons butter/coconut oil/Earth Balance for frying and topping
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 lime

In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the masa, basking powder, salt, cinnamon and sugar. Then add the applesauce, vanilla extract and water. Masa harina soaks up quite a bit of water, so if your batter seems too dry (say, more cookie dough then pancake batter) add more water about a tablespoon at a time. Let the batter sit for at least five minutes (and add more water if it thickens up too much).

In a frying pan over medium-low heat, add one tablespoon butter and fry about 1/4 cup of batter until you see bubbles forming on the batter. Turn and cook until cooked through.

Serve with butter, brown sugar and a squeeze of lime. 

Here's Megan's awesome take on the whole book. I tell ya; her love of books is contagious!

I am so excited to be doing this post with one of my dear friends and fellow bloggers, Liz Lerner. Liz and I have been friends for a very long time. She is my partner in crime and many other things too – blogging, reading, being an awesome virgo, and unfortunately, food allergies. Boo! Liz has blogged since 2007 at her site – The Good Eatah. It’s my go-to resource when I need allergy-free, healthy food ideas. She’s an amazing cook and has been a tremendous help to me on my allergy-free journey.

Since we’re always talking books and food (my top two favorite things ever) we decided to do a joint post today. So, here's the deal. We chose a book to read together - Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker. After chatting about what we both loved about it, I wrote a review while Liz took a food mentioned in the book (pancakes) and came up with her own awesome allergy-free recipe for it. Pretty cool, huh? We think so, and we're hoping this will be a monthly post we do together. We're calling it 'Cooking and Booking'. 

So without further ado, please check out the review on Ten Tiny Breaths, feast your eyes on the most delicious looking pancakes you've ever seen, and make sure to connect with Liz at her blog, on facebook, pinterest, and on twitter! Enjoy!

Author: K.A. Tucker
Published: December 11, 2012
Date Read: January, 2012
The Book Asylum Rating:

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Kacey Cleary’s whole life imploded four years ago in a drunk-driving accident. Now she’s working hard to bury the pieces left behind—all but one. Her little sister, Livie. Kacey can swallow the constant disapproval from her born-again aunt Darla over her self-destructive lifestyle; she can stop herself from going kick-boxer crazy on Uncle Raymond when he loses the girls’ college funds at a blackjack table. She just needs to keep it together until Livie is no longer a minor, and then they can get the hell out of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

But when Uncle Raymond slides into bed next to Livie one night, Kacey decides it’s time to run. Armed with two bus tickets and dreams of living near the coast, Kacey and Livie start their new lives in a Miami apartment complex, complete with a grumpy landlord, a pervert upstairs, and a neighbor with a stage name perfectly matched to her chosen “profession.” But Kacey’s not worried. She can handle all of them. What she can’t handle is Trent Emerson in apartment 1D.

Kacey doesn’t want to feel. She doesn’t. It’s safer that way. For everyone. But sexy Trent finds a way into her numb heart, reigniting her ability to love again. She starts to believe that maybe she can leave the past where it belongs and start over. Maybe she’s not beyond repair.

But Kacey isn’t the only one who’s broken. Seemingly perfect Trent has an unforgiveable past of his own; one that, when discovered, will shatter Kacey’s newly constructed life and send her back into suffocating darkness.
The Book Asylum Review:

I had been seeing a lot of buzz around Goodreads and the blogosphere about K.A. Tucker’s recent release - Ten Tiny Breaths. When I see so much positive buzz about a book, I sometimes bypass reading the book blurb completely. Sometimes it’s nice to pick up a title, start reading, and be completely surprised. That’s exactly what happened with Ten Tiny Breaths. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I just sat back and enjoyed the ride… and it was such an awesome ride!

This story follows Kacey and her little sister Livie as they make their new lives in Miami, Florida. Kacey is emotionally damaged after a horrible accident that killed her parents, her best friend, and her boyfriend four years ago. She was the only survivor of a crash brought on by a college student who was drunk driving with two friends in the car.

“Before Kacey died four years ago and all that’s left is a mess. A mess who spent a year in physical rehabilitation to repair her shattered body, only to be released with a shattered soul. A Mess whose grades did a nose dive into the bottom of the class. Who sunk into a world of drugs and alcohol for a year as a way of coping. After Kacey doesn’t cry, not a single tear.”

After reading that, you’ll understand that Kacey has some issues, to say the least. Big ones. Nightmares torment her daily. Insomnia is her closest friend. She has hardened into a ‘take no prisoners’ kind of gal whose favorite coping mechanisms are kick boxing, sarcasm, and denial. She has become adept at keeping everyone at a distance and is about as aggressive and abrasive as they come. The only person she allows close is her sister, Livie. Luckily, Livie wasn’t in the car that horrible night so she was spared the haunting memories that plague her sister. Unfortunately, both sisters have scars. They just deal with them differently…or not at all.

Determined to do whatever it takes to make a life for her and her sister, Kacey accepts a position at a local adult club where her neighbor, Storm, works. Her ends – putting food on the table, paying rent, and sending Livie to Princeton – justify her means. Along the way, without her even realizing it, Kacey starts to let people in. That includes her hard-working neighbor, Storm, her adorable daughter Mia, and Trent – her neighbor from apartment 1D... Trent with the striking blue eyes and unshakeable interest in Kacey.

“How can he see what I don’t want him to see, what I work so hard to conceal? He’s found a way in, that’s how. Like a trespasser, he’s invaded my space, breaching security and sliding in to take what I haven’t offered to him.”

Trent… Oh Trent… Trent is everything a girl could ever want in a guy, and everything a reader could want in a dreamy book boyfriend. He’s tall, handsome, sexy, sexy, sexy, bright, composed, and unwavering in his pursuit of Kacey. He’s sexy and he rides a motorcycle. Did I already say sexy? I did? Just making sure.

“It’s like Trent’s got a “Make Kacey Smile” itinerary and it’s jam-packed. By the time I get to work each night, my face hurts from so much smiling.”

A lot of tension comes from the fact that although Kacey is falling for Trent, he keeps pushing her to face her past. A past she would much rather leave buried.

Besides Kacey’s strong voice and the every so engaging relationship between her and Trent, Tucker has colored this story with an amazing array of supporting characters. Livie is caring, perceptive, and intelligent. She’s also completely selfless. I just adored her! Storm and Mia are the neighbors that live next door. They are some of the sweetest, most endearing characters I’ve ever read. I can’t imagine anyone not falling for them. They’re perfect! Then, there’s the landlord, Tanner (a personal favorite of mine), who sports Batman pajamas, Cain, the club owner with a heart of gold, Nate, the gargantuan bouncer, and Ben, hottie bouncer and lawyer in training. Everyone is distinct. Everyone is likeable. Everyone adds to the flavor of the story in a unique way.

The big twist in Ten Tiny Breaths wasn't super shocking to me. I would imagine most people will predict what it is, but that doesn't take away from what you'll experience all the way up to that point. Just because I saw it coming didn't mean that the sucker punch it packed hurt any less. In the end, I was sad because the story wrapped up pretty quickly and long before I was ready to say goodbye. It was a pleasant surprise to have become so attached to these characters, their struggles and especially their futures. I told you it was a good idea not to have read the blurb first, right?

With Ten Tiny Breaths, you’ll experience all the highs and lows with Kacey, Trent, and the gang. You’ll feel their want, their need to connect, to live, to love, and ultimately to forgive. Ten Tiny Breaths is an amazing journey that will appeal to readers who love an authentic contemporary romance. It’s beautifully written and emotionally charged, with characters as complex and flawed as the events that shaped them. If you’re looking for a book filled with honest moments and characters worth rooting for, check out Ten Tiny Breaths today. Believe me, you won’t regret it!

“Just breathe, Kacey. Ten tiny breaths. Seize them. Feel them. Love them.”


Amber said...

Awesome post ladies! What an inspiration you both are. Will def try the pancakes soon

Johnny BlackBeard said...

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Liz said...

Thanks Amber! I hope you start a blog, lady. You have great taste in everything (I'll be forever grateful for the introduction to Noosa.)