Binge-then-Read: Cakes, Family Sagas, and Romances

Binge-then-Read

In this edition of binge-then-read we are covering not one, but three trending shows.

  • If you have been watching Des Moines native Andrew Fuller rise to stardom on Is it Cake, we have recommendations to inspire your baking endeavors.
  • If you are loving the Apple TV adaptation of Pachinko, we have some fantastic family sagas for you to check out.
  • If you are swooning over the Netflix adaptation of Heartstopper, we have some graphic novels and romances to add your TBR.

Is It Cake

Is it Cake?

Des Moines native Andrew Fuller rose to fame with the recent premiere of Netflix's competitive baking show Is It Cake?Is it Cake?  is a game show style cooking show where competitors create skilled replicas of handbags, sewing machines, and more in a mind bending baking contest where the judges will need to determine what is cake, and what is not.

If you were also inspired to try to up your baking skills or are in the mood for some baking adjacent books we have some fantastic books and cookbooks to add to your holds list. Outside of these four recommendations, browse hundreds of cookbooks to learn how to make mouthwatering cakes from our collection here on our catalog.

Celebrate with Kim Joy

Celebrate with Kim Joy 

by Kim Joy

Let Kim-Joy and her signature cuteness brighten your celebrations. From birthday cakes to year-round events, all occasions are covered! Enjoy 60 sweet recipes bursting with color, imagination and fun and there's something for everyone, no matter what their baking skills.

Whether you are baking for big occasions from birthdays to Valentine's Day to Halloween to Christmas to weddings or just because there are plenty of celebrations big and small that can warrant a cake.

Dana's Bakery

Dana's Bakery

by Dana Pollack

Dana Pollack is a trained pastry chef and the CEO/founder of Dana's Bakery, one of the first-ever online bakeries of its time. Dana never fails to take classic, crave-able desserts to a whole new level—including her Mookies (a macaron baked inside a cookie) that people line up to try. Now, you can make them—and 99 other incredible desserts from Dana's collection—in the comfort of your own kitchen. Organized by flavor, including Cookie Dough, Death by Chocolate and Taste the Rainbow, there's a dessert for every craving. Each recipe is jam-packed with incredible flavor (and includes an eye-catching photo), and Dana's easy-to-follow instructions make them a breeze to prepare at home. With this breakout cookbook, you'll enjoy all the decadent, over-the-top desserts that made Dana's Bakery famous without having to wait in line.

The Last Bite

The Last Bite

by Annie Higham

There is more to sweets than just cake, but every great baker has a base knowledge of the mechanics of baking. The Last Bite is a comprehensive guide to modern desserts that teaches you how to cook, create, structure, and season sweet dishes—and ultimately how to really understand dessert making. In this revolutionary book, award-winning pastry chef Anna Higham encourages you to approach making a dessert as you would savory cooking: engaging your senses, tasting, seasoning, and letting your ingredients shine. 
 

Exploring ingredients season by season, Anna outlines a repertoire of ways to cook each one to magnify flavor and taste. She shows you how to work with fruit; construct a dessert; and examine seasoning, structure, and texture—helping you really understand the "how" and "why" of dessert cooking.

Featuring over 150 recipes for cakes, jams, mousses, and more, as well as over 45 plated desserts, The Last Bite celebrates seasonal cooking and eating with irresistible, innovative recipes—from fig leaf ice cream in fall to elderflower vinegar meringue in spring. Let Anna blow away your preconceptions about what your desserts can be and taste like with this inspiring, groundbreaking book. 

Battle Royal

Battle Royal

by Lucy Parker

If you are a cake lover, what is better than marrying cake, a game show, and romantic comedy. Four years ago, Sylvie Fairchild charmed the world as a contestant on the hit baking show, Operation Cake. Her ingenious creations captivated viewers and intrigued all but one of the judges, Dominic De Vere. When Sylvie's unicorn cake went spectacularly sideways, Dominic was quick to vote her off the show. Since then, Sylvie has used her fame to fulfill her dream of opening a bakery. The toast of Instagram, Sugar Fair has captured the attention of the Operation Cake producers...and a princess.

Dominic is His Majesty the King's favorite baker and a veritable British institution. He's brilliant, talented, hard-working. And an icy, starchy grouch. Learning that Sylvie will be joining him on the Operation Cake judging panel is enough to make the famously dour baker even more grim. Her fantastical baking is only slightly more troublesome than the fact that he can't stop thinking about her pink-streaked hair and irrepressible dimple.

When Dominic and Sylvie learn they will be fighting for the once in a lifetime opportunity to bake a cake for the upcoming wedding of Princess Rose, the flour begins to fly as they fight to come out on top. The bride adores Sylvie's quirky style. The palace wants Dominic's classic perfection. In this royal battle, can there be room for two?


Pachinko

Pachinko

The TV adaptation of Min Jin Lee's international best-seller Pachinko premiered a few weeks ago on Apple TV. 

Our Book Chat team put together a list of incredible epic family sagas that span decades and generations to keep you immersed and engaged in similar epic tales.

America is Not the heart

America Is Not The Heart

by Elaine Castillo

How many lives fit in a lifetime? When Hero De Vera arrives in America—haunted by the political upheaval in the Philippines and disowned by her parents—she's already on her third. Her uncle gives her a fresh start in the Bay Area, and he doesn't ask about her past. His younger wife knows enough about the might and secrecy of the De Vera family to keep her head down. But their daughter—the first American-born daughter in the family—can't resist asking Hero about her damaged hands.

An increasingly relevant story told with startling lucidity, humor, and an uncanny ear for the intimacies and shorthand of family ritual, America Is Not the Heart  is a sprawling, soulful debut about three generations of women in one family struggling to balance the promise of the American dream and the unshakeable grip of history. With exuberance, grit, and sly tenderness, here is a family saga; an origin story; a romance; a narrative of two nations and the people who leave one home to grasp at another.

The Family Chao

The Family Chao

by Lan Samantha Chang

The residents of Haven, Wisconsin, have dined on the Fine Chao restaurant's delicious Americanized Chinese food for thirty-five years, content to ignore any unsavory whispers about the family owners. Whether or not Big Leo Chao is honest, or his wife, Winnie, is happy, their food tastes good and their three sons earned scholarships to respectable colleges. But when the brothers reunite in Haven, the Chao family's secrets and simmering resentments erupt at last.

Before long, brash, charismatic, and tyrannical patriarch Leo is found dead—presumed murdered—and his sons find they've drawn the exacting gaze of the entire town. The ensuing trial brings to light potential motives for all three brothers: Dagou, the restaurant's reckless head chef; Ming, financially successful but personally tortured; and the youngest, gentle but lost college student James. As the spotlight on the brothers tightens—and the family dog meets an unexpected fate—Dagou, Ming, and James must reckon with the legacy of their father's outsized appetites and their own future survival.

Brimming with heartbreak, comedy, and suspense, The Family Chao offers a kaleidoscopic, highly entertaining portrait of a Chinese American family grappling with the dark undercurrents of a seemingly pleasant small town.

Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois

The Love Sons of W.E.B. Du Bois

by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers

The 2020 NAACP Image Award-winning poet makes her fiction debut with this National Book Award-longlisted, magisterial epic—an intimate yet sweeping novel with all the luminescence and force of Homegoing; Sing, Unburied, Sing; and The Water Dancer—that chronicles the journey of one American family, from the centuries of the colonial slave trade through the Civil War to our own tumultuous era. 

To come to terms with her own identity, Ailey embarks on a journey through her family''s past, uncovering the shocking tales of generations of ancestors—Indigenous, Black, and white—in the deep South. In doing so Ailey must learn to embrace her full heritage, a legacy of oppression and resistance, bondage and independence, cruelty and resilience that is the story—and the song—of America itself.

The Mountains Sing

The Mountains Sing 

by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

With the epic sweep of Min Jin Lee's Pachinko or Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing and the lyrical beauty of Vaddey Ratner's In the Shadow of the BanyanThe Mountains Sing tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War. Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore apart not just her beloved country, but also her family.

Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Việt Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope.

The Mountains Sing is celebrated Vietnamese poet Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai's first novel in English.


Heartstopper

Heartstopper

Last week Heartstopper, the live-action adaptation of Alice Osman's hit graphic novel series, premiered on Netflix. People are falling in love with the story of Charlie and Nick as they navigate school and young love. 

For those of you looking for more LGBTQ+ romances and/or graphic novels we have four amazing recommendations for you.

Check Please

Check Please! Book 1 #Hockey

by Ngozi Ukazu

Eric Bittle may be a former junior figure skating champion, vlogger extraordinaire, and very talented amateur pâtissier, but being a freshman on the Samwell University hockey team is a whole new challenge. It is nothing like co-ed club hockey back in Georgia! First of all? There's checking (anything that hinders the player with possession of the puck, ranging from a stick check all the way to a physical sweep). And then, there is Jack—his very attractive but moody captain.

A collection of the first half, freshmen and sophomore year, of the megapopular webcomic series of the same name, Check, Please!: #Hockey is the first book of a hilarious and stirring two-volume coming-of-age story about hockey, bros, and trying to find yourself during the best four years of your life.
 

Red White & Royal Blue

Red, White, & Royal Blue

by Casey McQuiston

What happens when America's First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There's only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? Casey McQuiston's Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn't always diplomatic.

The Girl From the Sea

The Girl From The Sea

by Molly Knox Ostertag

From the author of The Witch Boy trilogy comes a graphic novel about family, romance, and first love.

Fifteen-year-old Morgan has a secret: She can't wait to escape the perfect little island where she lives. She's desperate to finish high school and escape her sad divorced mom, her volatile little brother, and worst of all, her great group of friends...who don't understand Morgan at all. Because really, Morgan's biggest secret is that she has a lot of secrets, including the one about wanting to kiss another girl.Then one night, Morgan is saved from drowning by a mysterious girl named Keltie. The two become friends and suddenly life on the island doesn't seem so stifling anymore.But Keltie has some secrets of her own. And as the girls start to fall in love, everything they're each trying to hide will find its way to the surface...whether Morgan is ready or not.

One a Sunbeam

On a Sunbeam

by Tillie Walden

Two timelines. Second chances. One love.

A ragtag crew travels to the deepest reaches of space, rebuilding beautiful, broken structures to piece the past together. Two girls meet in boarding school and fall deeply in love—only to learn the pain of loss.

With interwoven timelines and stunning art, award-winning graphic novelist Tillie Walden creates an inventive world, breathtaking romance, and an epic quest for love.

Published on April 26, 2022
Last Modified November 28, 2022