It's sinister, it's dark -- it's everything we'd hope from a debut thriller. S.J. Watson has crafted "unquestionably a suspenseful and gripping psychological thriller" of Before I Go to Sleep (Harper).
Its premise is familiar yet decidedly unique -- an amnesiac woman begins to spiral into paranoia, as each morning she awakes, she cannot remember her own life. How can she possible figure out the truth about her life, her marriage, anything, when she can't remember any of it?
Sounds intense, and so is this cool trailer:
Be sure to check our our interview with S.J. Watson!
Heartland by Judith Fertig, one of our cookbooks from the August cooking column, celebrates good, down-home American Midwest cooking. Whoever sits at your table -- whether friends, family or just you -- will find bread made from fresh dough to be out-of-this-world. The following recipe is keeping with the spirit of Heartland: a good all-American recipe in half the time, with half the work!
Can bread dough be a pantry staple? Yes, if you consider your refrigerator as “pantry.” With a bowl of this versatile made-ahead dough on hand, you’ll be already halfway to yeasty breads, rolls, and coffee cakes. Busy Heartland farm wives in the early part of the twentieth century had two yeast dough recipes they used regularly. One was for bread and one was for dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, and coffee cakes. This streamlined approach made life easier for them, and it can still make things easier for us today. Plus, there’s also another way to streamline bread baking.
Adding more liquid to a dough eliminates the need to knead. You can simply stir the dough together, keep it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, and bake when you’re ready. So why not have a baking day, and then wrap and freeze your wares for up to 3 months?
A Danish dough whisk features a mitten-shaped metal mixing end on a wooden handle and makes short work of mixing any dough. Measuring is an important step to assure that your bread turns out right, so follow the directions exactly.
Spoon the flour into a measuring cup, level with a knife or your finger, then dump the flour into a 16-cup mixing bowl.
Add the yeast and salt to the flour. Stir together with a wooden spoon or a Danish dough whisk. Mix the honey, oil, and eggs together in a 4-cup measuring cup. Add enough warm water to reach the 4-cup mark and stir together. Pour the honey mixture into the flour mixture, stir to combine, then beat for 40 strokes, scraping the bottom and the sides of the bowl, until the dough forms a lumpy, sticky mass.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature (72°F) for 2 hours, or until the dough has risen to about 2 inches below the rim of the bowl and has a spongelike appearance.
Use that day in your favorite recipe for sweet bread or rolls, or place the dough, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before baking. If you like, write the date on the plastic wrap so you know the bake-by date for your dough.
Laura Bush, Jackie Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt and Lady Bird Johnson have all been the subject of books in recent years. Now, the spotlight is on Pat Nixon, and it comes from a somewhat unlikely source: Ann Beattie.
Beattie was a literary phenom from the moment she released her first story collection in 1976. She was hailed as the voice of her generation by no less than the New Yorker, which has published many of her stories over the years (here's a fairly recent one). Over the last 20 years, she's kept writing and publishing, but this is her first full-length novel since 2002's The Doctor's House. We can't wait to see what she does with the story of Pat Nixon.
Will you be looking for this one on November 15?
In one corner: Stephen King, longtime channeler of America's id, takes on one of the pivotal events in our history: the Kennedy assassination. But this is no stolid reportage. There's time-travel from the back of a seedy hamburger joint, a love story between a "lanky librarian" from the 1960s and a fed-up high-school teacher from the present and, oh yeah, Jake's mission to try to stop a certain event coming up in November 0f 1963. I've been reading Stephen King ever since lugging It home from my local library branch at the age of 10 and always look forward to his new releases.
In the other corner: Robert K. Massie, Pulitzer prize-winning biographer of Russia's royal family, confronting one of its most fascinating figures: Catherine the Great. The story of how this German child bride grew a Russian soul and brought the Enlightenment to her adopted country (as well as plenty of scandal) during her 30-year reign. Massie is a brilliant, meticulous writer with an astounding knowledge of European history, and his biography of Peter the Great ranks among one of my favorite books of all time (his memoir, Journey, co-written with his then-wife Suzanne about their son Bobby's battle with hemophilia is another terrific read).
Both books are behemoths (more than 700 pages), so there's zero chance I'll be able to finish them BOTH over the weekend. So which should I dive into first? Place your vote in the comments, or let me know what you'll be reading this weekend.
We have been excited about Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home (our Cookbook of the Month for August) since May—and one of our editors had some Jeni's ice cream at Hot N Cold the day before the "rapture" (just in case). Making Jeni's delicious ice cream at home takes some careful reading and "a modicum of self-control to keep from becoming a hopeless but happy ice-creamaholic," but it's worth it. The following recipe is for Jeni's signature ice cream flavor.
Danger! This is the dry-burn technique. I don’t add water to the sugar before putting it on the heat, as some chefs do. Caramelizing sugar dry means it goes faster, but you have to watch it more closely and be ready with your cream. Here is an overview of what you are going to do:
Stand over the pan of sugar with a heatproof spatula ready, but do not touch the sugar until there is a full layer of melted and browning liquid sugar on the bottom with a smaller layer of unmelted white sugar on the top. When the edges of the melted sugar begin to darken, use the spatula to bring them into the center to help melt the unmelted sugar. Continue stirring and pushing the sugar around until it is all melted and evenly amber in color—like an old penny. When little bubbles begin to explode with dark smoke, give the sugar another moment and then remove from the heat. Immediately but slowly pour about 14 cup of the cream and corn syrup mixture into the burning-hot sugar. Be careful! It will pop and spit! Stir until it is incorporated, then add a bit more cream and stir, then continue until it is all in.
Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.
Mix the cream with the corn syrup in a measuring cup with a spout.
Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the milk. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.
Bring back to a boil over medium-high and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. If any caramel flecks remain, pour the mixture through a sieve.
Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid.
Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.
Reduce the salt in the ice cream to 1/4 teaspoon, then make and freeze the ice cream. Pack it into the storage container, layering it with 1 cup coarsely chopped smoked almonds.
Rachel Gibson's hockey series began with her first novel in 1998, Simply Irresistible, and immediately put her on the map as a NYT and USA Today best-seller.
Any Man of Mine is the final installment in the hockey series, and it tells the story of a Vegas vacation gone awry. Autumn and Sam were just in for a night of fun, but their tryst leaves Autumn hurt, pregnant and alone. Years later, Sam means to pick up where they left off and reforge the bonds created on that fateful night.
Here's a quick excerpt (you can read more here):
"There you are Cinderella."
She slapped her Cosmo closed and raised the brim of her straw hat. She looked way up into a pair of black Oakley's covering eyes she knew were a beautiful blue. He was even bigger and better looking in the sunlight. Today he wore a pair of gray Quicksilver board shorts and a white tank with large armholes around his massive shoulders.
"What are you reading?"
"Make-up tips." She tried to act cool as she shoved her Cosmo into her bag. Like she wasn't reading about penises and like outrageously good-looking men talked to her every day. "Have you been following me?" she asked the man she'd danced with at Pure.
He chuckled and sat on the chaise next to her. "Keeping my eyes open for you."
He dug in his back pocket then handed her the pink bead bracelet she'd worn the night before. "You lost this."
This was Vegas. Nothing was real in Vegas. Certainly not good looking men tracking her down to return a cheap bracelet. She opened her palm and he dropped it in her hand, the beads still warm from his body. "Thank you."
Any Man of Mine is already on shelves! Are you going to read this character-driven romance?
Be sure to visit BookPage’s Romance Writers of America playlist on YouTube for more interviews.
One of our cookbooks from our August cooking column combines an appreciation for the amber waves of grain with being super time-friendly. Heartland by Judith Fertig "celebrates its farm-to-table traditions, grounded in the bounty of the land and laced with the ethnic accents and pioneering spirit of the settlers." Read: you'll be cooking up the soul of America in a 2011 minute.
In a large bowl, whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt together. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and milk together. Stir the egg mixture into the dry mixture until well blended. Set aside.
Fry the bacon in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until crispy. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain and add the scallions to the skillet. Sauté the scallions for 1 minute, then transfer to the cornmeal batter. Crumble the bacon into fine pieces. Stir the crumbled bacon and melted butter into the batter, then spoon the batter into the hot skillet.
Immediately, wearing oven mitts, place the skillet on the middle rack of the oven. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 10 minutes. Let cool slightly before cutting.
Note: Turn leftover cornbread into croutons for Prairie Panzanella (page 147) or other salads. Cut the cornbread into ¾-inch cubes, spread on a baking sheet, and toast in a 350°F oven until the edges turn golden, about 10 minutes. Let cool, and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.
Karina Cooper is the author of the Dark Mission trilogy, and the first two books are tough and super-steamy. As she says on her website, they're "Wild Turkey with a bullet in the bottom of the glass."
The first in the series, Blood of the Wicked, came out in May and was quickly followed by Lure of the Wicked in June. The third, All Things Wicked, is scheduled for January 2012.
The Dark Mission series is considered paranormal romance, but as Trisha says during the interview below, it's more like "post-apocalyptic romance." The books are set in a rebuilt city, 50 years after a worldwide disaster, in a society where witches are hunted and killed.
Find out more about the series in our interview with Cooper:
Are you excited about this new romance sub-genre?
For more great interviews from romance authors, check out BookPage’s Romance Writers of America playlist on YouTube.
Debut author David Whitehouse's Bed (Scribner) carries some serious weight -- and not just because it tells the story of the bedridden fattest man in the world. It's a mix of intense, eccentric characters and the "merry revelry in the grotesque," as Whitehouse delves into the life story of the huge man to exhume his reasons for choosing a horizontal life.
The following trailer from Simon & Schuster captures the balance of tenderness and despair in Bed:
Bed is one of our top debut novels in our August issue. It comes out today! Will you be picking up a copy of Whitehouse's novel?
Our reviewer practically dares you to read one of this year's Newbery Honor winners: "What’s the title? It’s Heart of a Samurai, by Margi Preus, but seriously, you wouldn’t like it. I mean, why would you want to read about a kid thrust into a situation that would scare the pants off of most people, when you won’t even try peas?"
It's a true story based on the life of Manjiro, a Japanese fishing boy, and we loved talking with Preus at ALA 2011 about why she chose this true story to become her first YA book:
What is your favorite novel based on a true story?
Heart of a Samurai came out a year ago, but it's still one of our favorite middle grade novels. Have you read it? Will you?
For more author interviews from ALA 2011, visit our YouTube channel.