Thursday, December 20, 2012

#391: Torching the Sugar on Top of a Creme Brûlée

 Reason to Be Happy #391:
Torching the Sugar on top of a Creme Brûlée
I've already told you that cracking the top of a creme brûlée is one of my reasons to be happy (Reason #235 to be exact). But I only recently had the opportunity to witness the making of thisone of my top five desserts—in person, and to use the torch myself.
Scorching the sugar on top is a VERY satisfying activity. Who doesn't love to play with fire?
Who especially doesn't love to play with fire...with such delicious results? Many thanks to Libbie Burgan, who is truly the Queen of Creme Brûlées!

Friday, December 14, 2012

#390: Mashing Ice Cream Into Cake

 Reason to Be Happy #390:
Mashing Ice Cream Into Cake
 It's an art. Each bite must be carefully mixed with a fork to contain just the right amounts of cake, icing, and ice cream. It looks messy, but it's well worth the effort.
 Some of you inquired if I wasn't very happy in November? I'm pleased to report that although I didn't post any reasons to be happy in that month, it was indeed a very fine month. I have no complaints—other than not enough hours in the day. Just in case you're joining this party late, I set out to list a reason to be happy every day for a full year on July 1, 2011. I did it. Never missed a day all the way through July 1, 2012. Since then I've been continuing to list reasons when they occur to me and I have time. All of this, of course, was to commemorate my novel Reasons to Be Happy, which came out in August 2011.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Book Gift Suggestions Part Three

Here’s Part Three of my holiday gift book suggestions (be sure to check out Parts One and Two if you missed them).

Books make amazing gifts—they’re not perishable, and you don’t have to worry about versions, sizes, or colors. If you give any of the following books, the recipients will owe you. Bigtime. Oh, there are so many! How do I decide? Here are some of my true loves from this year.

You want to get your hands on Martha Moody’s SHARP AND DANGEROUS VIRTUES, just released this fall. Set in 2047 in Dayton, Ohio, it is mesmerizing. In response to food and water shortages, the U.S. government has developed a successful agricultural area—known as "the Heartland Grid"—just north of the city. The Grid and its valuable human and agricultural resources are now being threatened—or possibly, seduced—by a multinational enemy force, and all of America feels threatened, too. I heard Martha read from this two summers ago at the Antioch Writers’ Workshop and was so taken, I thought it would kill me to wait for this book’s release! Obviously it didn’t kill me...and it was well worth the wait!
I highly recommend the haunting, beautiful, poetic THE SALT GOD’S DAUGHTER by Ilie Ruby for any woman on your list. The Huffington Post called this novel a “…a lyrical, luxuriantly mystical meditation on being female.” The gorgeous imagery and exquisitely drawn characters haunt me still.
 I love Marisa de los Santos’ newest FALLING TOGETHER (but you can’t go wrong with any of her work!) I fall head over heels for all of her characters, but this protagonist—Pen Calloway—takes the cake for embedding herself in my heart. A book about our deepest human connections, and study in life long friends looking at the truths about who they were before and who they are now. You’ll want to read everything she’s ever written (if you haven’t already). I’m such a fangirl that I can’t help but mention how thrilled I was to get to have coffee with Marisa in NYC two summers ago. She’s lovely and wonderful in “real life,” as well as being a kickass author who makes my Christmas shopping so easy.
Looking for a mystery? Thriller? Perfect for men or women: GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn. This is dark, twisted fun. I find that, reading as a writer, it’s rare that I’m truly surprised anymore. Something about a third of the way through this novel made me say “Holy shit!” aloud, totally alone, (well, except for the cat in my lap who looked up in alarm). I was so delighted and enthralled to be genuinely startled by a plot twist. But I tell you what: Flynn did it to me that drastically two more times before that book’s end. It’s fantastic, delicious suspense. 
Barbara Kingsolver has a new novel out, which is always cause for celebration! FLIGHT BEHAVIOR would make an excellent gift for any literary book lover. I haven’t read it yet, but you can’t go wrong with Kingsolver. Most of you know she’s my very very very favorite (and meeting her last year was a dream come true—the photographic evidence has a place of honor on my fridge). I’ve read everything else she’s written multiple times.

Remember, if you’re in the Dayton area and thinking of buying one of my own novels as a gift, please please email me and I’ll happily make arrangements to personalize it for you however you like. katrinakittle (at)

If you’re in another state, please check out the wonderful bookstore Saturn Booksellers in Gaylord, MI. They have all my titles, already signed, and will ship anywhere!

Shop your local, independent book stores!
Happy Holidays & Happy Reading!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Book Gift Suggestions Part Two

 Here’s Part Two of my holiday gift book suggestions (be sure to check out Part One if you missed it).

Books make amazing gifts. Here are some that will make the recipients want to kiss you! (You know...if that’s appropriate. Or they may just feel really warm and grateful, and that’s okay, too).

Just finished THE ROUND HOUSE by Louise Erdrich and was crazy in love with it. Just gorgeous and haunting, like her works always are. After a brutal attack on a woman living on an Objiwe reservation in North Dakota, the novel is narrated by the woman’s thirteen-year-old son Joe. Joe’s father is a tribal judge, but when the quest for justice bogs down in complications, Joe sets out to get answers and justice of his own. One reviewer said this will come to be known as the “Native American TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD” and I think that’s perfect. Note: don't skip or skim ANY of it (why would you want to?!). Every single detail, image & story counts and is vital to the plot. Genius.    

 Looking for inspiration? Kick-ass advice? Need a gift for a reader who never sits still long enough for a novel? Then pick up TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS by Cheryl Strayed. A compilation of the “Dear Sugar” advice columns on The Rumpus. Don’t know “Dear Sugar” at the Rumpus? Oh, do yourself a favor and remedy that, Sweet Pea. Full of quotes like “Nobody will protect you from your suffering,” “Forgiveness doesn’t just sit there like a pretty boy in a bar,” and “Be brave enough to break your own heart.” I now own a coffee mug with my personal favorite quote on it: “Write like a motherfucker.”
Kristina Riggle’s latest THINGS WE DIDN’T SAY is fantastic. (As would be ANY of her previous novels). You know when you hold things in and keep secrets and bite your tongue? You know how none of those things are sustainable and eventually something has to give? Well, this is a gorgeous, moving book about what happens when a woman hits the point where she has to start speaking the words no one else will say. (And Kris Riggle is a fun, warm, wonderful person in “real life.” I love when we’re at book events together, but I don’t envy folks trying to introduce us—our names together sound like a comedy act!)
Have someone on your list who loves historical fiction? You can’t go wrong with the newest novel from Kelly O’Connor McNees. I was lucky enough to read a galley of IN NEED OF A GOOD WIFE and fell head over heels for it. Set in the American West, centering around main character Clara Bixby’s business venture into mail-order brides for an isolated Nebraska town, this is a book about second chances and new beginnings. I was honored to write a blurb for this book! The three central, compelling women are each, in turn, terribly lost and deeply brave. I adored them all and rooted for them in their struggles.

So…if you're considering buying one of my books as a gift, not only would I be eternally grateful, but I'd happily personalize it for you. If you’re local, email me at katrinakittle (at) and we’ll make arrangements.

If you’re in another state, please check out the wonderful bookstore Saturn Booksellers in Gaylord, MI. They have all my titles, already signed, and will ship anywhere!

Where ever you are, always do your best to patronize your independent book stores!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Book Gift Suggestions Part One

Doing Your Holiday Shopping?

One of my favorite sayings is: "A book is a present you can open again and again." It's so, so true. If you're looking for book ideas to give as gifts, please check out part one of my list below, for books I loved lately. Today’s list features three books that are classified as “young adult” but were fantastically enjoyable to this adult (and several other adults I am allowed to call myself an adult, right? Even though I sometimes eat cake for breakfast?)

WONDER by R.J. Palacio is a book I can’t stop raving about. Since the main character is a fifth grader, this is an obvious choice for the middle grader on your list, but honestly, I believe this book should be required reading for every human being! August Pullman opens his story with, “I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.” Auggie was born with a facial deformity that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. He wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past his extraordinary face. WONDER begins from Auggie’s point of view, but switches to include his classmates, his sister in high school, her boyfriend, and others. Auggie must be extraordinarily brave and change and grow to embrace the world, but the world must also change and grow and be brave to embrace Auggie. This is a beautiful book about empathy, compassion, and acceptance…and how difficult all those things are.

I also recommend Kristina McBride’s new novel ONE MOMENT. Kristi blew me away with her debut novel, THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES (if you haven’t read that one, put it on your list, too). The opening chapter starts off with a cliff diving accident that leaves Maggie’s boyfriend dead...and she can’t remember what happened in the moment before they were supposed to dive. As Maggie’s memory returns in fragments, each piece leads to more questions. This is a mysterious, searing look at secrets and how an instant can change everything you believe about the world around you. Warning: This book make me stay up until 3 AM!

For any age (another book I tend to be evangelical about) I’d gift
THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak. Oh, this book... It was first published in 2006, but I only recently found my way to it. Now I’d like to go door to door handing it out to people. Narrated by Death, this story is set in Nazi Germany (a time and place, our narrator notes, when he was very busy). I can tell you the plot (a young girl’s relationship with her foster parents and a Jewish boxer who hides in her home), but you gotta trust me: no description can do it justice. Every single sentence made me want to be a better writer. Every single page made me want to be a better human being. Although it’s often shelved in young adult, I’d recommend this to any age.

The only thing better than receiving a book as a gift is receiving a book that is personalized to you and signed by the author.

So…if you're considering buying one of my books as a gift, not only would I be eternally grateful, but I'd happily personalize it for you. If you’re local, email me at katrinakittle (at) and we’ll make arrangements.

If you’re in another state, please check out the wonderful bookstore Saturn Booksellers in Gaylord, MI. They have all my titles, already signed, and will ship anywhere!