Childhood Favourites

When I was in L.A. last year for a writers’ conference, I was really excited to find marble cake stocked in the hotel’s Starbucks pastry cabinet. Marble cake. Bought it. Ate it. Loved it. (And subsequently bought several more slices in various places across California.) I hadn’t eaten marble cake since I was a kid. My mother is more of a savoury cook, but one of the few sweet dishes she used to make was steamed marble cake. There’s a great recipe on the terrific A Swoonful of Sugar blog and it’s very similar to Mum’s recipe. I may try that method one day, but today I opted for the baked version from Taste.com.au. As always, I couldn’t help but tweak the recipe — added an extra egg, substituted cow’s milk with coconut milk, and put in half a cup more cocoa powder. (Next time, I’m putting in even more cocoa!) I omitted the food colouring and the icing. And here’s the result:

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By the way, I hit a new height record with this cake: 10 centimetres!

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Finally, I’ve baked a cake that measures up…

Another childhood fave I’m revisiting is Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, a classic horse book first published in 1877. I bought this leather-bound hardcover edition with my pocket money way back on Saturday, September 15, 1984! (I remember because I wrote that on the flyleaf, along with my full name and address in case it got lost.) Aside from the tear-jerking but ultimately uplifting story, I loved the stunning illustrations by Elaine Keenan. The whole book just reinforced my love of horses, riding and writing. There are numerous editions of Black Beauty now — I’d quite like to clear one of my bookshelves and collect a few of them…

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My black beauty with ‘Black Beauty’.

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One of the many gorgeous illustrations by Elaine Keenan.

The New Three ‘R’s: Reading, Writing and Recession

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that reading is a “low-cost escape from the recession.” People are being more careful about spending, they’re less extravagant, and thankfully they’re rediscovering relatively cheap entertainment in the form of books.

What are people reading to take their minds off the new three ‘R’s? A fourth ‘R’, actually. An interesting article popped up in the New York Times on how, in this economic climate, romance novels are outselling other genres.

Vampire books are not dead–at least in Australia. Stephenie Meyer alone seems to be propping up sales.

Do you have any clever ideas on low-cost or no-cost entertainment to keep your mind off the global financial crisis? Has the GFC influenced your buying decisions?

Oh, and a HUGE shout out to my CP and good friend Stephanie Kuehnert, whose first book, I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE, has been nominated in the YA category of OKRWA’s National Reader’s Choice Awards! Well deserved, I might say! Good luck, Steph!

Retail Therapy

In case you haven’t heard me moaning on Facebook and Twitter, I am sick with an annoying cold. I’ve spent the last couple of days seeking treatment at UK-based online bookseller The Book Depository. They may not yet have the range my other haunt has, but they do offer FREE DELIVERY anywhere in the world and I’m told their service is quick.

So I added inches to my YA TBR pile with HEARTBREAK RIVER by Tricia Mills, INVISIBLE TOUCH by Kelly Parra (who recently signed a film option for her first book, GRAFFITI GIRL), WHAT WOULD EMMA DO? by Eileen Cook and MISS MATCH by Wendy Toliver.

This is in addition to the books I bought at bricks’n’mortar stores during the contagious phase of my cold – TANTALIZE by Cynthia Leitch Smith and POLAR BOY by Sandy Fussell.

I really have to hold back now, ’cause the commenters over at the We Love YA blog gave me a ton of recommendations and I want to read them all.

Which books have you bought lately? Are you actively buying books to keep the sellers and authors in business?