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Martha Stewart's Cakes: Our First-Ever Book of Bundts, Loaves, Layers, Coffee Cakes, and more
Martha Stewart's Cakes: Our First-Ever Book of Bundts, Loaves, Layers, Coffee Cakes, and more
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $11.84

27 of 35 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Martha Stewart's online recipes are better and more accurate, skip this one, February 1, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Okay, I am a devoted follower of Martha Stewart's Living magazine and she is my go to resource for dessert recipes. From her fancy cakes to her simpler ones I always had a great result when I used her online recipes, so I thought it would be nice to have a book solely for cakes since they are my favorite thing to bake. I'd classify myself as an intermediate baker - I've been baking for many years but there are still some things I'm not super experienced with, although cakes are my specialty.

So I had an event to bring a cake to and I came across the Devil's Food Cake recipe on page 288 with the Seven minute frosting. I had made both of these from the website at different times so I thought they'd be a nice safe bet since they are fairly straightforward recipes and I have experience with them.

Let's start with the cake. I followed the recipes to a T and carefully read the instructions. It asks for two 8 inch round cake pans. I have these and I doublechecked them. They were the right size and yet the cake overflowed like crazy. I had made the devil's food cake from the website and while it had been a tall cake it never overflowed. This one was ridiculous. I was able to salvage it by trimming but the cake ended up on the dry side. I think the recipe needs larger cake pans. I'm not sure if 9 inch round would be enough, but they certainly would have helped.

Now the frosting is where I get very very mad. So I follow the recipe which lists the ingredients as follows: 1 1/2 cups sugar, 5 large egg whites, 1 Tbsp light corn syrup, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. The instructions have you simmer everything but the vanilla over a double boil until "sugar is dissolved (mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingers), 2 to 3 minutes." Then you put it in an electric mixer and beat on high until stiff, about 7 minutes and beat in vanilla".

Okay I do all this exactly and the thing is not coming together. Not.At. All. I decide to look the recipe up online to see if there are any comments that may help me figure out the problem. When you check it online: [...] the quantities are different: 1 1/2 cups sugar, 2 Tbps light corn syrup, 6 large egg whites, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. And the instructions online have this helpful tidbit: "cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes." Why the !%U(#%U#(% isn't that in the damn book? It's incredibly helpful. And this recipe has you beat it in the electric mixer for only about 5 minutes.

I scrapped the entire first batch and did it again following the online instructions and it worked just fine. So the recipe I paid for was terrible and didn't work and the recipe that's posted for free is great. And I'm not an expert baker but it doesn't appear that the book recipe is just scaled down for a smaller portion because the online recipe has the same amount of sugar more syrup and egg white and less vanilla and you whip it for less time.

I have no idea how many other recipes in the book suffer this type of problem, but if you purchase this book (which I don't recommend) doublecheck the recipe online to see if there are any issues. I followed the recipe exactly and I ended up with an overflowing cake that turned out dry (despite having sour cream and 3 damn sticks of butter) and a frosting recipe that wouldn't stiffen.

This book reads like someone went to Martha Stewart's website, took a few existing recipes and changed a couple little things and then just threw them in a book. I'm very disappointed and I'm sad that I can no longer trust my go-to source for cake recipes.

Please don't buy this book, save yourself the money and the hassle and just look up the recipes online. The recipes there are better written and better quality.


An Ever Fixéd Mark
An Ever Fixéd Mark
Price: $2.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Slow, boring, and not at all romantic, May 6, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I was drawn in to this story by the title and the fact that it was a vampire romance. I went in with fairly low expectations, maybe some overdramatic romance or lots of cliches, but apparently my standards weren't low enough. I rarely give up on a book, but I am 40% of the way through this novel and I just can't go any further. It's boring, so very very boring. The main character is hugely unlikeable and most of our time is spent as she obsesses over her weight and facebook. Yes, a novel about a vampire and that uses a quote from Shakespeare spends a huge chunk of its time discussing facebook (52 mentions according to my kindle search). The romantic lead is not given much of a personality or any depth. The plot is slow and uninspired and at times clunky and illogical as well. The romance portion is not well written enough to compel us to believe these people have real feelings for each other. I was so disappointed with this purchase I felt I needed to offset the 5 star reviews that I feel are most likely from people who know the author personally, as this book is simply not on a 5 star level. If you are looking for more compelling vampire romances I'd suggest skipping this and going with Elizabeth's Hunter's elemental series.


Dragon Age 2 - PC
Dragon Age 2 - PC
Offered by DigitalWorld US
Price: $40.99
13 used & new from $15.24

33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Devil is in the Details.., March 22, 2011
= Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Dragon Age 2 - PC (Video Game)
I have to say that in many, many ways I'm really disappointed. The "big" elements in this had great potential--but as they say, the devil is in the details and I think Bioware fails completely on that score.

1. Combat - The combat on a larger scale is great--its smoother and more fluid. You can do things more rapidly. On the downside, your characters are very much "locked" into their roles and depending on what you start out with you--you can end up totally stuck. For example--unless you are a mage, the only person who can be a true healer is Anders. You can't do the "revive a party member" or "group heal" without him or without being a mage yourself. You also are going to lose some characters (if not indefinitely) at least for certain stretches of the game and you can miss a couple of them if you don't do every random "secondary" quest. My first go round I had ONE non-ranged melee character--ONE for a huge portion of the game. God bless Aveline but I've never been a fan of sword and shield so she got boring after awhile. The only rogue you have access to that isn't an archer is Isabela and she's problematic later on in the game.

2. Armor -- My first playthrough I made the mistake of not actually reading the stupid booklet that came with the game and it took me forever to realize that about 75% of the armor is useless and any armor you pick up can only be used on your character. That makes looting so much less fun and finding the random upgrade slots for your characters is incredibly anti-climactic. I think this was laziness on the programming side--Bioware probably didn't want to have to adjust all the cutscenes to show your characters in the various armor. That shortcut took a lot out of the game.

3. The Interface -- oh sweet jesus do I HATE the ability trees. They are so annoying and it takes forever to navigate through them and compare things. Were the solid straightforward squares just too easy for us that Bioware had to make it more confusing for no apparent reason? I also find the inventory as not all that much improved. There is just less stuff to hold onto because of the aforementioned armor issue. I really would have loved an interface that lets you see (and distribute) gear to all your characters at once--not just people in your party--or at least see what you have equipped on all your characters even if they weren't in your group at the time. This would have been a huge improvement and made it easier to choose what charms to sell or hold onto.

4. Environment. -- All the caves, mansions, tunnels--they all look exactly the same. The only difference in one cave to another is that it will allow you to open X door and then not Y door. It's very hard to stay interested in the environment when you spend almost all the game in one city. They should have taken a little more time to put in a few details here and there in the different settings to set them apart. Maybe just change the coloring of the walls or some of the layout. You also spend a lot of time just walking from point A to point B and I hate having to visit every character in their own "home base". The game lost a lot in not having a place where you could have all the characters come together--like the camp from Origins. I think the game would have benefited greatly from having a sort of meeting place for the characters--like the pub. It would have opened up lots of interactions and interesting gameplay.

5. Characters and Dialogue. Death to the conversation wheel! Death! I hate the fact that what you choose has only a vague resemblance to what you actually say. And while the stupid little picture gives you a clue--the tone is often questionable. What was wrong with Origins dialogue? You choose something and...gasp...you actually say that. I completely miss the gifts option--it was sort of like a mini game and it really helped you understand the companions' personalities and gave them another dimension. I'm on my second playthrough and I still don't quite have a lock on some of the personality preferences. I also think Bioware really skimped on the romance cutscenes and options. I'm still angry on how poorly they wrote Anders. While he has every reason to be very "changed" from Awakenings, there's almost none of the light-hearted guy who carried "Ser-Pounce-A-Lot" around. If you played Awakenings, you'd expect Anders to like the funny dialogue options, even if he's all tortured and nuts...but he doesn't. I don't see the point in bringing characters from the previous lore if you are going to disregard their history.

6. The story. Ah, the story as a whole--the big picture *could* be interesting and compelling--it *could* have been epic. And it should have involved lots and lots of magic. But alas, no. The problem is that the quests never come together and there are tons of missed opportunities. There really aren't any epic quests (although you fight dragons frequently enough that you'll get bored with them). The one quest that stands out involves Hawke's mother which is the most interesting (and personal) of the entire game. It has a big tie in at at the end but only if you pay intense attention. Just playing up that angle alone would have made the game extremelymore personal. The quests and character interaction don't even have a shadow of the richness as those in the first game. Bioware also went a little overboard with trying to force concepts to seem "gray" because some plot points came across as illogical and extremely ill-fitting. Characters don't behave logically nor do people behave particularly logically toward you. There will come a time where you really don't feel like either side deserves your help. Not the outcome you want after hours of gameplay and certainly not one that makes you feel anything like a "champion".


The Search
The Search
Offered by Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Price: $5.99

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Only read if you're interested in dog training., September 29, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Search (Kindle Edition)
To preface, I want to say that I have enjoyed many Nora Roberts' books. I particularly enjoy the suspense/mystery ones mixed with romance. Now, it's clear to me after reading this book that Nora is putting out way too much stuff and either no longer has a decent editor, or is simply allowed to ignore their advice.

If you read this book you will learn a lot about dog training. Really. That's what Nora talks about for pages and pages and pages. Basically she is saying "I did a lot of research on dog training and I'm going to put it in my book to sound authentic" but it only makes it more fake and as far from a romance novel as you can get.

All this time spent with the dogs is, of course, time we don't spend with the main characters--particularly the male lead who is pretty hollow and not particularly interesting or compelling. The relationship is overshadowed by the endless dog training and the female lead is far too Mary Sue. The ending is abrupt and not particularly satisfying. If the author had spent a tenth of the time writing the ending as she did exploring all the aspects of dog training, it might have helped.

I'm so disappointed with this book as it signals to me that Nora Roberts' no longer cares about a good story and that she will simply keep producing as much junk as possible because people will buy it solely based on the sucess of her previous books.

Nora, you should be ashamed of this one.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 5, 2012 4:27 PM PST


The Book Thief
The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.52
501 used & new from $3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ruthlessly beautiful and haunting, April 2, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Book Thief (Paperback)
This book isn't going to be the easiest read you'll ever pick up. To begin it's narrated by death and as you might guess, death has a lot more to tell you about than just the simple facts. The tale follows a little girl (the book thief, herself) as she grows up in Nazi Germany--so if you're looking for light, fluffy material this isn't the best choice for you.

There are a lot of stories about the holocaust, so many touching stories, but Zusak does a remarkable job of making this one personal. It's focus on this one little girl who steals books long before she knows how to read them makes the pain and suffering of the holocaust that much closer to us.

Zusak's writing style is ruthlessly beautiful and haunting. He even has his deathly narrator warn you in advance of exactly what will happen and tells you not blame *him* when you're upset. And then when the big painful moments come, you don't blame the narrator, but you can't help but shed some tears and ache a bit. The writing in this book is eloquent, the pacing is perfect and the characters will stay with you long after you've reached the last page. If you're looking for a book that you'll remember long after you're done with it, this is a must read for you.


A Very Special Delivery
A Very Special Delivery

32 of 51 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Only read if you enjoy pro-life christian preaching, March 31, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
It doesn't say this anywhere but this is a christian romance. It's particularly over the top with a pro-life message, going so far as to have the male lead force his ex-girlfriend to have a baby she doesn't want by threatening lawsuits against her. This action is portrayed as honorable and "god's will". Oh and be ready to hear that phrase a lot "god's will" and "the lord will provide". I challenge you to make it more than a couple pages without a bunch of god, lord or jesus references.

Save yourself the time. Just pick up a pro-life pamphlet. It will be a faster read, better written and far more honest about its contents.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 17, 2010 9:12 PM PDT


House
House
by Frank Peretti
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.78
193 used & new from $0.01

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Rats Running Through a Maze, January 3, 2008
This review is from: House (Paperback)
For a story so based on suspense, the plot lags and the book itself is the equivalent of watching rats run through a maze. And speaking of the rats--ahem, main characters, there was nothing particularly engaging about the ones in "House". Any good writer knows that characters don't have to be likable, but they have to be compelling. These were all stock characters--flatter versions of Stephen King's trusty staples like the bitter hero, the dislikable "popular" type, the flighty beautiful girl. They aren't interesting, likable, or sympathetic. Had the reader been able to identify with any of these characters, it would have been a far more "horrifying" and interesting read. The villain's "big reveal" is insanely predictable, and I couldn't find much in the way of surprises. The ending is so trite and takes itself far too seriously, resulting in it being unintentionally comical. (I believe the last word in the book is "shoo", if that gives any indication). Even at the bargain book table price of $5.95, this still wasn't worth what I paid for it.


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