So, Wiscon is over for another year (boo), but after hearing such wonderful feedback about this series, I decided to continue doing it throughout the year – that way by the time next year rolls around there’ll be a good backlog of recipes and book reviews to get you going!

Bites

Toffee-Coconut Rocky Road Bars

One thing a bakesale can always use is more brownies.  Chocolate.  Sugar.  Etc.  So when I saw this recipe over at Taste and Tell (an excellent site for recipe reviews, btw), I had to share it with you!

This one involves a little more prep time – you have to bake it in layers (and be sure to see Deborah’s notes about baking the first layer a little longer to make sure it’s not soggy) – but the results sure look worth it!
Toffee-Coconut Rocky Road Bars
from The Deen Family Cookbook

Makes sixteen 2-inch brownies

(Recipe and Directions Here)

Books

klages

Portable Childhoods, by Ellen Klages

Ellen was one of the Guests of Honor this year at Wiscon, and as part of my long-standing tradition, I only read her books after the convention was over (although I’d heard her read the short version of the Green Glass Sea at a previous Wiscon).  I’ve discovered some of my favorite authors this way  – Charles DeLint, after the Minicon where he was Guest of Honor (GoH), and Jo Walton (also Minicon); Peter S. Beagle and Tim Powers, after Capricons at which they were guests, and the list goes on.  I can definitely say that Ellen’s joined the company (and even that I have a serious case of Authorial Crush, but thankfully that won’t make me unable to speak to her ever again.  She’s just too friendly and welcoming for that to ever happen.).

As a genre author, she’s a bit of an odd duck.  She writes fiction about science (sometimes).  The main character of Green Glass Sea is a girl whose father is working on the secret project at Los Alamos during WWII.  Stories in the collection I’m writing about have characters who are scientists, who even do science – but the science isn’t the main part of the story – the people are.  Is it science fiction?  I think so, but I’ve had conversations with others who disagree.

Regardless of the label you’re willing to assign to it, the stories are just damned good writing.  The theme of childhood, and childhood dreams, is reflected and refracted throughout.  These aren’t the childhoods of rosy adult imaginings, though.  Ellen has the gift of writing about characters of all ages in a way that rings true for each character.  Reading the eponymous story, in which a mother writes about her relationship with her daughter at various points in time, I could simultaneously sympathize with both the narrator (close to my own age) and with her daughter, based on my memories of being a child at those ages.  Heck of a trick, and she pulls it off every time – there’s not a false note in the bunch.

Oh, and did I mention that she’s funny as all get-out?  The scene where the mom is trying to teach her daughter to gargle had me laughing so hard it was difficult to breathe.

I feel like this review is all over the place – which kind of fits, actually.  It’s like visiting the house of someone you’ve just met recently (and like a whole lot), who takes you around and shows you one really cool thing after another.  It’s too much to take in all at once – this is one of those collections I’m looking forward to re-reading.  A  lot.

There’s a really great review of this book (with quotes, even!) over at Amazon, if you’d like another point of view as to why this collection rocks.

True characters, laughter, love, heartbreak..  what are you waiting for?  Go read it!  Shoo.

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