Archive for August, 2023

Cranberry Sauce With Orange Juice (So Easy)

Sunday, August 20th, 2023

Learn how to make classic cranberry sauce with orange juice and brandy. This make ahead recipe includes freezer instructions and leftover cranberry sauce ideas.

Cranberry Sauce With Orange Juice

This tried-and-true recipe is the most requested Thanksgiving recipe.

The tartness of cranberries pairs well with the natural sweetness of oranges for a winning combination for your Thanksgiving or Christmas meal.

Cranberry Sauce With Orange Juice (easy how to guide)

Is Cranberry Jelly the Same as Cranberry Sauce?

Cranberry sauce and cranberry jelly differ in texture, ingredients, and usage.

Cranberry sauce features a chunky consistency with whole or crushed cranberries, often combined with other ingredients like sugar and spices.

On the other hand, cranberry jelly has a smooth, gelatinous texture achieved by using strained cranberry juice or puree, often mixed with sugar and pectin.

Both canned cranberry sauce and cranberry jelly are available at your local grocery store, but the flavors of homemade cranberry sauce are worth the effort, especially when you can add your own flavor combos


Cranberry Sauce Tips and Tricks

When a recipe instructs you to cook cranberries until they “pop,” you should continue cooking them until they burst open. Fresh cranberries have tough outer skin; as they heat up, the moisture inside them turns into steam, causing them to expand and burst. 

This bursting is often accompanied by a distinct “popping” sound.

Cooking cranberries until they pop creates a smooth and well-textured sauce, as the burst cranberries release their juices, flavors, and natural pectin, which helps thicken the sauce. 

The process of popping and releasing their juices transforms the firm cranberries into the soft, saucy consistency that we associate with cranberry sauce.

What is a Microplane?

What is a microplane?

A microplane is a kitchen tool with a razor-sharp, fine-grated blade designed for effortless zesting and grating. 

We will use this tool for the orange zest in this recipe. The zest adds a fragrant aroma, while the juice provides a tangy sweetness that complements the cranberries.

A microplane is commonly used to extract the colorful and flavorful outer peel (zest) of citrus fruits like oranges and lemons.

You an also use this tool to finely grate ingredients like cheese, ginger, or nutmeg.

To zest an orange, take your microplane or fine grater and gently scrape the outermost layer of the orange peel.

Be cautious not to include the bitter white pith underneath, as the vibrant outer layer contains the aromatic oils and flavor you want.

Cranberry Sauce With Orange Juice

How to Make Cranberry Sauce

Scroll down to see the complete ingredient list and step-by-step instructions.

Wash Your Cranberries: Give the fresh cranberries a good rinse under cold water. This cleans them up and makes them ready for cooking.

Zest & Juice Your Oranges: Extract both the zest and juice from your oranges.

Combine Orange Zest With Water: Cook for fifteen minutes, reducing the liquid. 

Simmer and Stir:  To the cooked liquid add cranberries, sugar, cinnamon, orangie juice, and lemon juice. Let the cranberries simmer in the pot for about 10-15 minutes. You’ll see the cranberries start to soften and hear them pop.

Add Flavor: Remove the sauce from the heat and stir back in the zest and brandy into the cooked cranberries.

Cool Down and Store:  When the sauce is completely cool, you can serve it in a bowl. You can keep it in the fridge if you’re not using it immediately.

This is a brief overview of my recipe. For comprehensive instructions, refer to the recipe card located at the bottom of this post.

Cranberry Sauce With Orange Juice

Here are some of our most frequently asked questions for this recipe:

Is Cranberry Sauce Served Warm or Cold?

Cranberry sauce is typically served cold.

After it’s cooked and has thickened, allow it to cool down to room temperature and then chill in the refrigerator.

This chilled cranberry sauce is then served as a condiment alongside various dishes, especially during holiday meals like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Is it Necessary to Add Brandy?

Adding brandy is optional, but it does enhance the depth of flavor. It adds subtle warmth and complexity to the sauce. If you prefer not to use alcohol, the sauce will still be delicious without it.

Can I Make This Sauce Ahead of Time?

Cranberry sauce is the perfect make-ahead recipe. 

This cranberry sauce recipe is better if you can prepare it beforehand. It allows the flavors of this sauce to meld even more. 

After cooking, cool the sauce completely, then refrigerate it in an airtight container.

It will keep well for about a week.

Can You Freeze Cranberry Sauce?

Homemade cranberry sauce freezes well.

Allow it to cool to room temperature, then transfer it to an airtight container.

You can freeze it for up to three months.

Thaw the sauce in the refrigerator or by placing the container in a bowl of cold water.

Can Dogs Eat Cranberry Sauce?

Fresh cranberries can be a healthy dog treat in small, stem-free, and plain portions. Cranberries are safe, unlike grapes and raisins, which are toxic to dogs.  

As for cranberry sauce, it’s not toxic but should be given sparingly due to its sugar content, especially for dogs with diabetes or sugar sensitivity. 

Talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s specific diet needs and what they recommend. 

Cranberry Maple Syrup Sauce- What to Do With Leftover Cranberry Sauce

What to Do With Leftover Cranberry Sauce?

Cranberry sauce is the perfect topping on leftover turkey sandwiches.

My favorite leftover cranberry sauce recipe is this 2-ingredient cranberry maple syrup sauce. This is perfect for topping pumpkin spice pancakes or ice cream. 

Cranberry Sauce With Orange Juice (easy how to guide)

Cranberry Sauce With Orange Juice

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

This fresh cranberry sauce is the perfect Thanksgiving side dish. Cranberries, orange, and brandy make the perfect flavor combination for this homemade sauce.


  • 1/3 cup orange zest (approximately the zest from four oranges)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (approximately from four oranges)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 cups cranberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon brandy


    1. In a small pan over medium heat, combine orange zest and water.

    2. Cover and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and let it simmer for 15 minutes.

    3. After simmering, strain the mixture, reserving the zest and about 1/3 cup of the liquid.

    4. Return the reserved liquid to the saucepan.

    5. To the cooked liquid, add sugar, ground cinnamon, freshly squeezed orange juice, and lemon juice.

    6. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for about 3 minutes, stirring often.

    7. Add cranberries to the saucepan.

    8. Increase the heat to medium-high and boil for around 30 minutes until the cranberries pop, and the sauce slightly thickens. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools completely.

    9. Remove from heat, and stir in the brandy.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 229Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 4mgCarbohydrates: 58gFiber: 2gSugar: 53gProtein: 0g

The calorie and nutrition information provided with our recipes is intended to be an estimate based on commonly used ingredients and serving sizes. However, individual nutritional needs may vary, and the actual values can depend on factors such as specific brands of ingredients, preparation methods, and portion sizes. Please use these figures as estimates.

Looking for more great dishes to make ahead? Check out these other ideas from

Gluten-Free Green Bean Casserole

Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes

Gluten-Free Green Bean Casserole
Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes
Gluten-Free Stuffing Recipe
Make-Ahead Gravy Recipe

Can You Freeze Cranberry Sauce?
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The Fiona Davis Interview You Need to Hear

Friday, August 18th, 2023

Step into the world of Radio City’s Rockettes with author, Fiona Davis. Read excerpts from her interview on The Spectacular and discover the Fiona Davis books.

The Fiona Davis Interview You Need to Hear

Join us as Fiona Davis, the acclaimed author of seven historical fiction novels, delves into her latest historical fiction book, “The Spectacular,” which immerses readers into the world of the legendary Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall in the 1950s.  

From surprising dance routines to the hidden life of the Rockettes, discover the secrets of this iconic dance troupe and how Fiona masterfully captures the essence of movement and history on the page.  

Plus, learn the inside scoop on Fiona’s new book she is writing and what iconic New York City landmark she has selected for her next book destination. 

The Fiona Davis Interview You Need to Hear

Listen to the Book Gang Podcast:

Listen below or listen on your favorite podcast listening platform! For today’s show, we have also transcribed excerpts from today’s interview for readers.

The Fiona Davis Interview You Need to Hear

Patreon Fiona Davis Bonus Episode: 

Patreon Pals can access our bonus SPOILER episode that will delve deep into The Spectacular ending. 

Fiona masterfully crafted an emotional punch that caught me off guard.

In this bonus episode, I had the privilege of asking Fiona why she chose this ending. 

We also discuss why creatives must process things on paper and what she wants readers to learn from this protagonist’s journey. 

Fiona Davis Author Photo

Excerpts From Today’s Interview and Show Notes:

What did you uncover about the Rockettes when researching them, and was there anything surprising about the routines? 

What was different about Radio City in the fifties versus now is that now it’s a concert hall showcasing comedians, award shows, and bands, but it was a movie palace back then.

They showed four movies a day, and if you bought a ticket to a movie, you also got to see the stage show.

And that included the Ballet Corps, a choral ensemble, and, of course, the Rockettes. And sometimes, they throw in a juggler!

The show was based on the theme of whatever movie it was.

So if it was a John Wayne movie, they’d wear cowboy outfits and have holsters, guns, and hats. Those days the Rockettes worked year-round.

Now it’s seasonal if you’re a Rockette, but back then, you worked year-round, did four shows a day, and would do that for three or four weeks straight, and then you’d get a week off.

The Rockettes History

There were 46 girls total and 36 working at any one time.

They did 600 kicks per day because every number had a kick line.

It was really incredible. And because of that, I was surprised to learn that Radio City was a city for them because they were there so much.

Rockettes Dormitory

There was a dormitory with a nurse on staff; they’d go up on the roof and play wiffle or shuffle balls. They delighted the workers in the buildings and the skyscrapers around them.

They could watch the premieres in a cafeteria and a little movie room. And so they lived there in many ways.

The other thing that surprised me about it was just the sisterhood of the Rockettes. 

I asked if there was any back-fighting or anything like that, and they said no.

They were all just so pleased to be there, especially in the fifties when a woman was either a secretary or a nurse. 

They were so happy to be independent and do what they loved on this iconic stage. 

The Spectacular by Fiona Davis

Marion doesn’t blend in. Did you hear from any of the other dancers struggled with this?

The character of Marion is based on a real-life film star named Vera-Ellen.

She was one of the youngest Rockettes ever, and she was just bigger than everyone else.

Russell Marker founded the Rockettes and was the director and choreographer until 1971; if he said he wanted it a kick shoulder high, hers would be eye height, or her arms would be more extended than anyone else’s.

He gave her a couple of weeks to get it right, and she finally quit before she was fired. And then she went on to this really successful film, film career. She was in White Christmas.

 That was very interesting because here, you have this precision dance troupe, and the whole thing is to blend.

And it made me start thinking, what is the cost of suppressing your creativity or individuality for the good of the greater whole? 

And that’s whether it’s a dance troupe, in a corporation, or a community. When do you need to speak up and stand out, and when do you need to work and cooperate?

When it comes to dance and movement, how do you capture that on the page?

It was watching them in action, and then, at one point, I watched a class where a woman named Rhonda Malkin, who was a Rockette, now teaches this class where you go if you want to try to audition. 

Fifty-nine of her students have gone on to become Rockettes, so she’s doing something right!

And so I watched her class then transcribed the steps to make it as real as possible, using her notes to the dancers. And that helped to get it right.

It’s really about doing the research as well as you can and becoming an instant expert in whatever that thing is, which I often had to do as a journalist.

And so that helped to transfer over.

The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis

Is it hard to refine your research for a reader? How do you not overwhelm the reader?

It’s so tempting!

For example, you can sit and describe a room in Radio City like the Roxy Apartment, which is this cool art deco space, and write about that space for five pages.

But for me, the plot and the character come first.

And so because of that, I know and, having written many books by now, I know to look for the gem, for that one thing.

For example,  the fact that the Roxy apartment has a 20-foot high gold-plated ceiling is enough to set the reader in that space in many ways.

It’s tough because there’s so much to share and fascinating information, and I just have to go with whatever surprises me because I know that’ll surprise the reader.

And by including that, it’s enough to anchor the reader in the period without overwhelming them with describing furniture. 

Have you selected your new book’s next New York City landmark? 

Since January, I’ve been researching and writing a book set at the Met Museum.

In fact, we even took a trip to Egypt to do some research.

It’s set at the Egyptian wing of the Met Museum from the point of view of an associate curator. 

It’s also from the point of view of an assistant at the Met Gala, at the party of the year even in the seventies!

And so these two very different people have to team up to figure out who stole an artifact.

It’s a mix of glamor and mummies, so we’ll see how it goes. 

The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis

New to Fiona Davis? Here are some answers to your most frequently asked questions!

What are the best Fiona Davis books?

My favorite book by Fiona Davis is The Spectacular. I also highly recommend The Lions of Fifth Avenue and The Masterpiece as beautiful escapes. 

Her highest-rated novel on GoodReads is her latest book, The Spectacular.

What Fiona Davis Movies Are Coming Out?

At this time, there are no movie or tv adaptations planned. 

We will update this when it happens because we know it will. 

Is it necessary to read Fiona Davis’s books in a specific order?

No, each book is a standalone story.

What are the Fiona Davis books in the order published?

Books in order:

  • The Dollhouse (2016)
  • The Address (2017)
  • The Masterpiece (2018)
  • The Chelsea Girls (2019)
  • The Lions of Fifth Avenue (2020)
  • The Magnolia Palace (2022)
  • The Spectacular (2023)

Short Stories:

  • Stories from Suffragette City (2020)-  Historical Fiction Anthology Series
  • A Wild Rose- Amazon Original Stories (2022)
Fiona Davis Books in Order

Fiona Davis Books

Fiona Davis is the New York Times bestselling author of seven historical fiction novels set in iconic New York City buildings.

She first came to New York as an actress but fell in love with writing after getting a master's degree at Columbia Journalism School. 

Her books have been translated into over twenty languages, and she's based in New York City.

Browse this list of all the Fiona Davis books.

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
The Fiona Davis Interview You Need to Hear

The Best Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread

Saturday, August 12th, 2023

The Best Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread  from

This is the BEST gluten-free pumpkin bread recipe for the holidays. This quick bread is made with canned pumpkin and a simple all-purpose gluten-free flour.

Last Fall, I finally perfected a gluten-free pumpkin bread that I have held on to share with you until this year.

I’m a big fan of quick bread recipes because they are just as speedy as their name implies.

Instead of yeast, quick breads rely on chemical leavening agents like baking powder or baking soda to create the rise and texture in the finished product.

Because they don’t require the time-consuming process of yeast fermentation, they can be prepared relatively quickly compared to traditional yeast-risen breads.

This technique is not limited to bread recipes like banana, zucchini, or pumpkin breads though. It can also include muffins, cornbread, or quick rolls (like drop biscuits). 

Over the years, I have shared this recipe with friends and family, and nobody ever suspects that this quick bread doesn’t contain gluten.

It is also my most requested baked treat from my kitchen.

The Best Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread

To spice up my infatuation for this quick bread even more, I decided to snag this beautiful pumpkin bread pan for my holiday baking.

This created such a beautiful loaf that my family hesitated to eat it. 

They never suspected that it required exactly the same amount of effort as a regular standard loaf. 

I was, in fact,  so tired from making this beautiful artisan loaf that they volunteered to clean the dishes. 

I love the trickery that I get away with around here.

How to Make My Easy Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread Recipe

Here are some frequently asked questions about this recipe (located at the bottom of this post).

The Best Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour for Baking

What is the Best Way to Prepare My Loaf Pans for Gluten-Free Breads?

Pour your batter into prepared loaf pans (sprayed with nonstick spray or lined with parchment paper so you can remove them from the pan easily). 

Be sure to allow these to cool completely (room temperature) so that your loaf holds together.

Gluten-free baked goods have a tendency to fall apart easily if they haven’t been allowed to cool completely. 

What Gluten-Free Flour Should I Use In My Baking Recipes?

I swear by this baking flour as the perfect cup-for-cup gluten-free flour for your all-purpose flour.

The best part is that it does not contain the xanthan gum so you have more control over this addition when tackling all of your holiday baking.

Typically, I find the texture of many flours to be gritty and a little off-putting. 

Can you mix up your own gluten-free flour mix?

Is This Dairy-Free Pumpkin Bread?

Yes, this recipe is dairy-free- no need to make any changes. 

How Do I Make This With All-Purpose Flour?

This recipe is so easy to convert because our only gluten-free substitution is the cup-for-cup gluten-free flour blend.

If you don’t need this substitution, just make it with all-purpose flour. 

The Best Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread

Is Canned Pumpkin the Same As Pumpkin Pie Filling?

One of the biggest mistakes I made when first starting to cook with pumpkin is picking up the wrong type of pumpkin at the grocery store. 

If you see a can that says, “Pumpkin Pie Mix,” (it looks like this), you do not want this type of pumpkin for your baking. 

Pumpkin Pie Mix is intended to be mixed with milk and eggs to create pumpkin pies fast. 

Instead, you are looking for canned pumpkin because it is ONLY pumpkin and allows you to add in your own sugar and spices to create your dishes. 

As you can see, the labels are almost identical, which can really throw people off when shopping for their recipes. 

Of course, you can.

I must admit that I’m one of those moms who haven’t made time for it, especially since discovering how well this flour works in many recipes. 

I have not had a recipe fail on me yet with this flour blend.

Sifting Flour for the Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread Recipe

Can I Use Pumpkin Puree Instead of Canned Pumpkin? 

Yes, you can generally use pumpkin puree instead of canned pumpkin in a pumpkin bread recipe. 

Pumpkin puree and canned pumpkin are often used interchangeably in recipes, including pumpkin bread. 

Since they have a similar consistency and flavor, the substitution is usually seamless.

However, there are two things to consider to make sure you end up with the same results. 

Make sure your homemade pumpkin puree is well-blended and smooth, similar to the texture of a canned pumpkin.

And, If your homemade pumpkin puree is particularly watery, you might want to drain off any excess moisture before using it in your recipe. This can prevent the bread from becoming too moist. 

In most cases, swapping pumpkin puree for canned pumpkin in a pumpkin bread recipe should work well and produce delicious results. 

What Can I Do With Leftover Canned Pumpkin?

I mean, what *can’t* you use pumpkin for? Our family loves pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin chili, pumpkin waffles, pumpkin lattes, and even pumpkin pasta.

The Best Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread

How Do I Know When My Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread is Done?

If you are concerned if the middle is done though, be sure to test it. The best way to check (without damaging your loaf) is to have a toothpick inserted to poke the center. If it comes out with batter on it, you will need to cook it a little longer! 

Why is My Loaf a Dark Brown?

This dairy-free loaf gets its brown hue from the combination of pumpkin pie spice and ground cloves. 

You may notice the loaf in the fancy pan looks darker than the standard loaf (scroll down for a picture of a standard loaf).

This is simply because the loaf has been inverted, and you see the bottom of the decorative loaf! 

What Can I Use if I Don’t Have Pumpkin Pie Spice in My Pantry?

Don’t have any pumpkin pie spice in the pantry? No worries at all! You can mix up this pumpkin pie spice substitute from spices in your pantry.

Can I Mix In Nuts or Chocolate to this Recipe?

The bread has been sweetened with granulated sugar (rather than brown sugar) although you could sweeten it up with a handful of chocolate chips or some coarsely chopped walnuts to try out different flavors. 

I’ve added instructions for adding nuts and chocolate chips to the notes section of the recipe.

The Best Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread

What is the Best Way to Store My Quick Breads?

Should you have any pumpkin bread leftover, I have found a good airtight container is good to have in your arsenal. I found mine at our local Home Goods. These discount retail shops are a great place to shop for food storage solutions.

Remember, this does yield two loaves so you can always store your second loaf (or share it with a friend)!

What is the Best Way to Freeze Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread?

You can freeze your loaves after they have cooled to be enjoyed later. If you want to freeze them, I like to wrap them in a layer of plastic wrap, a layer of tin foil and then place these loaves in an airtight freezer bag. 

Make sure to clearly label the bread and the date that you froze it. These loaves can be frozen for up to six months! 

This recipe is perfect for preparing and sharing for the holidays. 

How Long Should I Cook it If I Do This Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread in Mini Loaves?

Mini loaves are such a great way to share bread with others They also make great hostess gifts. Although there is no “perfect” amount of time necessarily (because it depends on the type/size of the pans), I did find this advice very helpful for making time adjustments.

I can’t wait to hear what you think of today’s recipe, and I am looking forward to sharing more fun pumpkin recipes in the upcoming weeks! 

The Best Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread

Yield: 2 Loaves
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

This spiced pumpkin bread is gluten-free AND dairy-free. Try this quick bread recipe for snacking or to share as a gift.


  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 16-ounce canned pumpkin (read which pumpkin to buy at your local grocer in the post above)
  • 3 cups gluten-free flour (Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1-1 Baking Flour is recommended)
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans.
  2. Beat sugar and oil in a large bowl to blend.
  3. Mix in eggs and pumpkin.
  4. Sift flour, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into another large bowl. 
  5. Add wet ingredients to the flour mixture.
  6. Divide batter equally between prepared pans.
  7. Bake until the tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
  8. Transfer to racks and cool for 10 minutes.
  9. Using a sharp knife, cut around the edge of the loaves. Turn loaves out onto racks and cool completely.


Walnuts or mini-chocolate chips (1 cup) can be mixed into the batter if desired.

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As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 375Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 35mgSodium: 176mgCarbohydrates: 58gFiber: 2gSugar: 38gProtein: 4g

The calorie and nutrition information provided with our recipes is intended to be an estimate based on commonly used ingredients and serving sizes. However, individual nutritional needs may vary, and the actual values can depend on factors such as specific brands of ingredients, preparation methods, and portion sizes. Please use these figures as estimates.

TELL ME: What is YOUR favorite recipe for Fall

Easy Microwave Peanut Brittle Recipe (The BEST Gift Idea)

Friday, August 11th, 2023
Easy Microwave Peanut Brittle Recipe (The BEST Gift Idea)

Make this easy microwave peanut brittle recipe for a quick holiday treat. Simply stir in peanuts and microwave with a few common pantry ingredients!

Elevate your gift-giving game with this easy and easy microwave peanut brittle recipe you can make in the microwave. Simply stir in peanuts and microwave with a few common pantry ingredients.

Say goodbye to hours of stirring over a hot stove with a candy thermometer, and say hello to a simple, modern approach to crafting an old-fashioned peanut brittle.

With just a microwave and a few pantry staples, you can create a crunchy and sweet peanut brittle that’s bound to become a festive favorite.

Are you ready for the easiest no-bake treat? 

If you haven’t tried making microwave peanut brittle, you are in for a real treat.

The only trick with making peanut brittle in the microwave is keeping a CLOSE eye on it so you don’t burn your nuts.

In this article, we unveil the secrets to crafting the perfect microwave peanut brittle while providing a unique gifting idea that will impress. 

Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a kitchen newbie, this recipe is designed to simplify your holiday preparations. 

Easy Microwave Peanut Brittle Recipe (The BEST Gift Idea)

Here are some frequently asked questions about this easy microwave recipe:

How Can I Prevent Air Bubbles?

Air bubbles can be a common occurrence when making microwave peanut brittle.

While they may not always be preventable, there are some key things to keep in mind to minimize their presence and ensure a smooth brittle:


When stirring the mixture after adding the butter and vanilla, do so gently but thoroughly. 

Stirring helps distribute the ingredients evenly and reduces the risk of large air pockets forming.

Baking Soda Reaction:

Adding baking soda to the mixture causes it to foam and expand. 

Stir in the baking soda quickly but gently, and avoid over-mixing to prevent excessive air incorporation.

Microwave Wattage:

Microwave wattage can impact the cooking process. Lower-wattage microwaves may require slightly longer cooking times to ensure the mixture reaches the desired consistency without trapping excess air.

If your microwave has different power levels, consider using a lower power setting during certain stages of cooking to minimize rapid boiling and bubbling that can introduce air bubbles.

You should also consider the size of the microwave-safe container you use. Using a wide, shallow bowl may help prevent excessive bubbling and make it easier to mix the ingredients evenly.

Pouring Technique:

Pour your brittle gently and evenly when pouring the hot mixture onto the greased baking sheet. 

Avoid pouring from a great height, which could introduce more air into the mixture.

Tapping or Shaking:

As I describe in the recipe below, after pouring the mixture onto the baking sheet, gently tap or shake the sheet to help release any trapped air bubbles before the brittle sets.

Cooling Process:

Allowing the brittle to cool slowly and evenly can help minimize the formation of large air bubbles as it solidifies.

It’s important to note that some air bubbles are natural and won’t necessarily affect the taste or quality of the peanut brittle. 

In fact, a bit of texture and irregularity can add character to the final product. 

However, if air bubbles are consistently causing issues, you can experiment with different mixing techniques and microwave settings to achieve a smoother result.

Bowl of Raw Peanuts

What Other Microwave Brittles Can I Make With This Recipe?

While our recipe offers a traditional peanut brittle experience, you can get creative by adding your favorite nuts or even a hint of your preferred spices for a unique twist on this classic treat.

Here are some brittle combinations you can try! 

Almond Brittle: Substitute peanuts with chopped almonds for a rich, nutty almond brittle. The microwave method works just as well for almonds, delivering a satisfying crunch and delightful flavor.

Cashew Brittle: Cashews lend their buttery taste to create a delectable cashew brittle. The microwave ensures the cashews caramelize beautifully, resulting in a mouthwatering treat.

Pistachio Brittle: Experiment with colorful and flavorful pistachios for a unique twist on traditional brittle. The microwave preserves the vibrant green pistachios while turning them into a delightful brittle.

Seed Brittle: Opt for a healthier version using a combination of pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds. These nutrient-packed seeds create a brittle with a satisfying texture and earthy flavors.

Hazelnut Brittle: Indulge in the rich and decadent flavor of hazelnuts. The microwave method ensures that the hazelnuts are evenly coated in the sweet caramel, resulting in an irresistible brittle. If you have extra hazelnuts to use up, try this hazelnut soup recipe


Sugar and Spice Nuts Recipe

Mixed Nut Brittle: Combine a medley of your favorite nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, pecans, and cashews, for a diverse and flavorful brittle. The microwave technique simplifies the process of making a mixed nut brittle.

Remember, when experimenting with different nut or seed varieties, the microwave cooking times might vary slightly, so keep a close eye to prevent overcooking. 

Easy Microwave Peanut Brittle Recipe (The BEST Gift Idea)- Packaged with a Mini Hammer

How can I present the microwave peanut brittle as a gift?

Visit your local dollar store for cookie sheets and hammers for a delightful and memorable holiday gift. 

If you don’t have a dollar store, I’ve provided some other options including baking trays for toaster ovens and mini-hammers you can buy in bulk.

These packaging details offer a creative and thoughtful way to share your homemade treat.

Easy Easy Microwave Peanut Brittle
Easy Microwave Peanut Brittle Recipe (The BEST Gift Idea)

Easy Microwave Peanut Brittle Recipe (The BEST Gift Idea)

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 9 minutes
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 29 minutes

This easy microwave peanut brittle is the perfect no-bake treat. Package with a small hammer from your local dollar store tied with a bow.


  • 1 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda


    1. Grease a baking sheet & set aside.

    2. Combine peanuts, sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a microwave-safe bowl.

    3. Cook in the microwave for six minutes on high (keep one eye on it to ensure it isn’t bubbling over or burning the nuts). The mixture should be bubbly, and the peanuts should be golden brown.

    4. Add the butter & vanilla; cook for two to three more minutes.

    5. Quickly add the baking soda, just until the mixture is foamy.

    6. Pour immediately onto a greased baking sheet and spread. After pouring the mixture onto the baking sheet, gently tap or shake the sheet to help release any trapped air bubbles before the brittle sets.

    7. Let cool for fifteen minutes or until room temperature. Break into pieces.


If packaging for gifts, leave the brittle in tact and package with a hammer for gift-giving.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 563Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 400mgCarbohydrates: 91gFiber: 3gSugar: 85gProtein: 9g

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Unique Jigsaw Puzzles for Adults You’ll Fall In Love With

Thursday, August 10th, 2023

These jigsaw puzzles for adults offer unique designs in 500, 1,000, or 2,000 piece counts. This list has easy puzzle designs to more challenging jigsaws shapes.

Unique Jigsaw Puzzles for Adults You'll Fall in Love With

As soon as the weather turns crisp, we designate a table in our home as the puzzle table for the season. I love to have a puzzle that we can work on in those early morning hours with coffee or at the end of the day with a cup of tea.

Today I’m sharing a few of my favorite puzzles we’ve done at our house and some that made my wish list this this year. We have had the best time updating this guide for you.

Make sure to bookmark this list for gift-giving this year. Puzzles make incredibly unique hostess gifts, housewarming presents, and holiday gifts.

try this tutorial for a diy jigsaw puzzle mat

DIY Jigsaw Puzzle Mat

Before we dive into the puzzles, I do want to mention a few ways that we have saved A LOT of money over the years on our puzzle collection.

Three Easy Ways to Save on Jigsaw Puzzles

Find Out if Your Local Library Lends Puzzles- I can’t tell you all of the ways we have saved money over the years with our local library.

Contact your local library to see if they offer any jigsaw puzzle exchanges or if you can check out puzzles with your library card.

Life's a Beach Puzzle

Start a Puzzle Swap With Friends- One of the best ways we have saved is offering a puzzle swap with our friends.

When we have coffee together, we just bring our puzzles we have finished and trade them for a fresh puzzle.

Check Deals Sites For Deep Discounts On Puzzles- If you want to buy puzzles at a brick and mortar spot, our used bookstores offer huge savings on used puzzles as well as new.

No matter where you shop make sure that you are signed up with Rakuten and that you activate your savings before any shopping!

If you are new to the Rakuten app, this discount code should give you $30 on your first puzzle purchase! I also wrote a tutorial on how to use the app on items you regularly buy that will give you cashback rewards.

Unique Jigsaw Puzzles for Adults You'll Fall In Love With

Unique Jigsaw Puzzles for Adults You’ll Fall In Love With

Spend a cozy night with these jigsaw puzzles that are great gifts for adults AND kids.

Trade in a board game night for these fun-themed puzzles that embrace bookish themes and more in their puzzle designs.

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

500 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle

Craving a quick win? These 500 piece puzzles are the perfect fit.


Celebrate your love for books with this jigsaw puzzle collection that honors your love for reading.


Looking for a unique gift idea for a jigsaw puzzle lover? I recommend these jigsaw puzzle ideas and fun packaging ideas.


Are you craving more of a challenge? Try one of these difficult puzzles we have gathered for the puzzle enthusiast in your house.

Looking for more fall activities to try? Check out these fun additions to your puzzle routine!

watch these fall shows & movies while doing your new puzzle

The Best Fall Shows & Movies to Stream Right Now

download an audiobook from scribd while puzzling

How to Use Scribd for Your Reading Life from

What has been your favorite puzzle to do with your family?

The Best Josh Malerman Books (Bird Box Exclusive Interview)

Tuesday, August 8th, 2023

Josh Malerman discusses the rough drafts that proceeded his debut novel, Bird Box. Get the list of his best books and stream the Netflix film and sequel.

The Best Josh Malerman Books (Bird Box Exclusive Interview)

I am so excited to share an interview with Josh Malerman, who penned Bird Box, our first horror novel featured on the site. 

As a novelist, he has won numerous Bram Stoker Awards, but you may not know he is also known for his incredible gift as a singer-songwriter for the band The High Strung too.

This book built so much buzz for many reasons you will discover through this interview, but it also has received incredible reviews from readers.

If you are good friends with me, you know that I love a good scare. Horror flicks (scary, not gory) are my jam! 

I only recently discovered that I get this from my Dad, and now anytime a good one comes out, we go and get the heck scared out of ourselves together.

Horror BOOKS, on the other hand, just haven’t captivated my attention as much until I read this gem of a book.

The more I read about the story behind his success, the more I wanted him to pull up a virtual chair at my kitchen table and share about his book with you.

Scroll down to see the FULL LIST of books from the author!

Bird Box Book Synopsis

Malerman succeeds in writing a perfectly gripping and creepy psychological sci-fi page-turner. 

In a post-apocalyptic world, creatures are lurking. We witness a woman and her two children try to flee to safety blindfolded along a river. 

If they see what is lurking, they die a horrific death inflicting pain upon themselves to stop seeing the horrors of what they have seen. 

Interweaving past (pre-creatures) and present (a post-creature world), you go on a horrific ride as Malorie tries to save herself and her children blindfolded, never knowing what lurks around every turn.

I recommend you dig into this one if you are an Alfred Hitchcock fan like me.

I just know it is a book he would have loved and wanted to create into a film. 

You will also really love it if you love classic Stephen King or if you enjoyed The Girl With All the Gifts as much as I did. 

Now grab your coffee, and let’s chat with Josh about his delightfully creepy book, Bird Box.

The Best Josh Malerman Books (Bird Box Exclusive Interview)

You are our first author joining us who has written in the Horror genre, so I am particularly thrilled to introduce Bird Box to our readers and a completely different genre that I love. 

How did you come up with this terrifying concept of Infinity, and what about it do you think terrifies your readers the most?

Strange germination: Long ago, (back before I had a personality of my own), an elementary school teacher mentioned that “a man might go mad if he were to contemplate infinity.” 

Every word of this admonition worried me, and I have a very strong memory of sitting in the carpeted hall as Mom and Dad got ready to go out… worrying that I might accidentally “contemplate” infinity. 

Many years later, I found myself with an exciting image; a mother and two children are rowing down a river blindfolded… why? What are they fleeing? 

I didn’t think about it long, the teacher’s words returned, and I had myself a book.

Hitchcock's, The Birds

One of my greatest fears is birds. It’s a deep fear because my mother terrified me of diseases if I picked up feathers, and then the fear was solidified after I watched Hitchcock’s, The Birds

I understand you let your pet finches fly around freely around you while writing this book in a pretty unique location. 

Can you tell us about that so I can have more nightmares?

I’d love to give you more nightmares! 

Yes, I had five finches, and I felt very bad about keeping them locked up, so I left the door to their cage open. 

It’s not as messy as you might imagine; you get to know their haunts and lay newspaper below. 

I was renting the third floor of a magnificent home in Detroit’s Boston-Edison (this is where Motown singers once lived; Berry Gordy had a place; Mark Twain built one of the homes for his daughter), so there were all kinds of ballroom space for the birds to fly.

With Bird Box, I woke up at 7 AM daily, got to work by about 8 AM, and wrapped it up by noon. 

The birds were really active in those hours, constant fly-bys, until they eventually landed in the story itself.

You wrote 15 novels before a publishing house picked up Bird Box

Will this novel’s success finally allow some of your other pieces of work to be published? 

Have you pursued publishing these before, or was this your first time trying to get your book out in the world?

I didn’t shop the other books for no reason other than I was completely satisfied with writing one, then moving on to the next.

Part of it was that I didn’t know what to do with a manuscript, and the other part was that I was touring with the band, writing novels in the passenger seat, and just didn’t see the rising stack of novels with desperation in my eyes.

This is not to say it was/is a hobby, it most certainly is not, but for who-knows-why I was content with knowing they existed and nothing more.

Now that Bird Box is out, I plan to release all 24 other books I’ve written—every last word. 

To me, they’re all episodes of the same show; Bird Box just felt like a promising debut after I’d met the people who could bring her to a publishing house.

This book has been compared to some of Stephen King’s classic novels, and I would dare say it feels a little like some of Hitchcock’s creepier works.

 Do you have any authors or filmmakers that have inspired you as a writer, and has this genre always intrigued you?

Oh yeah… I’ve been a horror fan all my life. And because of that, this question is very hard to answer.

 I love so many of them for so many reasons, but since you asked, I’ll tell you that I did go on an absolute Hitchcock tear after I wrote Bird Box, watched twenty or so of his movies, and really started to sink into his world.

 I loved him. I love Stephen King, too. 

Charles Beaumont. Richard Matheson. Dan Simmons. Robert McCammon. Kathe Koja. John Skipp

This list gets big fast with me, as it does with most horror lovers.

 I think we’re all very open-minded and will read just about anything that passes through the genre… because you just don’t know. 

And we’re all looking for that thrill constantly and are willing to read things that fall short of that on the way and can find exciting peaks in books that other people might think are flat.

Are you a horror movie lover, or just a reader of horror fiction? 

Can you share some of your favorite films for us to check out after we read Bird Box?

The first scary movie I saw was Twilight Zone: the Movie

Blew my mind straight up the middle—the Anthony skit, where the boy can do anything with his imagination; so good. 

The Invisible Man, the original, is crazy and features a Heath Ledger-Joker-esque villain in the title role. It’s one of my favorites. 

Hitchcock’s Rope is magic.

I read the exciting news that the film was optioned by Universal for six figures back in 2013 when it was only in the manuscript stage! 

As a writer, can you explain how that happened so early and what your involvement will be in the film?

Universal Studios optioned it, yeah.

And you know, I changed some of that manuscript before publication, but it’s made its way into the script! 

So, that’s pretty wild because the book will be different than the movie, but I may be responsible for some of those differences despite not writing the script myself.


The whole thing is nuts, really, and exciting, but I don’t want to think about it too much. 

You know what I mean? 

I want to keep my mind on the books, and if the movie gains traction, is green-lit, and starts to roll, I’ll have the biggest smile in the room.

The High Strungs

source: paste magazine

I also understand that you have quite the juggle with being a musician (in The High Strung) and a writer.

As a creative, how do you make time for both of these, particularly when on tour? 

How excited were the others in the band about this book being published?

Well, we haven’t done much touring since the book deal, and I understand that’s mostly my fault. 

I haven’t written any new songs! 

And I used to ponder this all the time; take a band like the Beatles. People adored them from the get-go, heralded as geniuses long before they actually imagined their genius works of art: their middle and later albums. 

So what happened there? Was the world right? 

Did the world predict this greatness?

Surely they didn’t suspect Sergeant Peppers after hearing “Love Me Do,” right?

So maybe their achievements have something to do with the encouragement the whole world gave them. 

Do you see? In other words, would they have written the White Album without this zany global support? I’m not sure. 

And I’m experiencing that phenomenon differently, but by the same rules: I’m focusing so much of my attention on the books, and it’s probably because many people are encouraging me to do so whether they mean to or not. 

And the songs have suffered as a result.

 I’m okay with that, but I need to check my soul (in a manner of speaking) and make sure I’m addressing both, and if I’m not addressing both, it better be for good, noble reasons.

Since you are a fast producer of words, how many books have you written since Bird Box, and what are any expectations on what you might publish next?

The next book is coming out in early 2017. 

Sounds like a long time, and it is.

 I’m working hard on fixing that scenario, and I’ll have it righted by then. 

Regarding how many books: the total is something close to 25 books now, and like I said earlier, I see them all as episodes of the same television show, my own Outer Limits, and so the way I see it, I’ve probably written the first two seasons by now.

* Editor’s Note: “Black Mad Wheel: A Novel” and “Goblin: A Novel in Six Novellas” were released in 2017!

Lastly, what is one of your all-time favorite books? 

The Howling Man(TOR 1988) Charles Beaumont. It’s got about 30 of his short stories, and for those who don’t know him… hang on tight; you’re about to feel a tidal wave of wonder wash over you.

Frequently asked questions about Josh Malerman:

What are Josh Malerman’s books in the order published?

  • Bird Box: A Novel (2014)
  • Ghastle and Yule (2014)
  • A House at the Bottom of a Lake (2016)
  • Black Mad Wheel: A Novel (2017)
  • Goblin: A Novel in Six Novellas (2017)
  • Unbury Carol (2018)
  • Inspection (2019)
  • Malorie: A Bird Box Novel (2019)
  • Pearl (2021)
  • Daphne: A Novel (2022)
  • Spin a Black Yarn: Novellas (August 15, 2023)

What are the best Josh Malerman books?

My favorite book by the author is Bird Box

The highest-rated book on GoodReads is that novel and the Bird Box sequel, Malorie

How many Bird Box Books are there? 

There are two books in the Bird Box series.

The books are Bird Box (Bird Box #1) and then the sequel, Malorie (Bird Box #2).

For context, the sequel takes place twelve years after the original story. 

At this time, there is no prequel.

Is it necessary to read Josh Malerman’s books in a specific order?

The Bird Box series should be read in order, but his books can be read as standalone novels. 

Does Josh Malerman have any movies?

The Bird Box movie starring Sandra Bullock, John Malkovich, Sarah Paulson, and Trevante Rhodes is available for streaming on Netflix. 

This movie came out in 2018, adapted from his debut novel. Be sure to read our provided interview to learn about this movie deal. 

Josh Malerman’s mind has also inspired a new film called Bird Box: Barcelona  (July 2023).

The new Netflix film,  Bird Box Barcelona,  is not a sequel but a spin-off based on the same world.

Please note Bird Box Barcelona shares the same timeline as the Bird Box movie filmed in 2018.  

This is not a prequel or sequel to the film. This movie was based on the novel’s world but is not a book adaptation. 

Can you share a Bird Box parent guide for the movie? 

This horror film is rated R. 

Common Sense Media recommends this film for ages 16+. Head to their site to find out what parents need to know

Josh Malerman Books

Josh Malerman Books

Josh Malerman is an American author of novels and short stories. Before publishing his debut novel Bird Box with ECCO/HarperCollins, he wrote fourteen novels, never purusing publishing.

The author has gained international acclaim for his chilling exploration of unseen terrors, making Malerman a prominent figure in modern horror literature. 

With a unique ability to blend suspense and psychological depth, Malerman continues to intrigue readers worldwide with his gripping narratives.

Browse this list of Josh Malerman books to find your next read.

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Love this author interview? Stream the Book Gang Podcast wherever you get podcasts. We discuss debuts, backlist, and under-the-radar book gems with your favorite authors.

Book Gang Podcast

TELL ME: What is your favorite Josh Malerman book?

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Read The Best Mary Louise Kelly Books (Interview)

Tuesday, August 8th, 2023

Mary Louise Kelly discusses her thriller in this author interview. Discover all the Mary Louise Kelly books- as she navigates NPR, writing, and motherhood.

Read The Best Mary Louise Kelly Books (Interview)

Looking for your next page-turning thriller? Mary Louise Kelly is best known for her role as an NPR correspondent on All Things Considered, but you might be surprised to discover she’s also a gifted thriller writer.

With her new book released this year, it’s so fun to revisit my favorite thriller from the author.

Let’s chat about The Bullet today!

The Bullet by Mary Louise Kelly
The Bullet by Mary Louise Kelly

The Bullet Book Synopsis

When Caroline Cashion discovers a bullet in her body that she was unaware of, it sends her life spiraling in a direction she never expected. 

The origin of that bullet and the people around her that it has affected caused this cold case to be reopened.

It also reopens the wounds of the family and friends around her.

Despite the gravity of the case and the circumstances surrounding it, the book is laced with great humor and a cast of endearing characters.

I contacted Mary Louise Kelly to see if she might like to share a little about her life as an NPR reporter and a fictional writer.   

Please read through to the end so you can see her publicly challenge her brother in this interview and discover the other books Mary Louise Kelly has written.

Mary Louise Kelly

Read The Best Mary Louise Kelly Books (Interview)

How did you craft the unique premise of your thriller, The Bullet, which revolves around a woman unexpectedly finding a bullet in her body during a routine scan?

It’s a true story! 

I was sitting on the sidelines of my son’s little league baseball game one afternoon when another mom plopped down next to me, heaved a sigh, and said, “Well, I’ve had a heck of a week.”

Long story short, she had just had a routine scan that revealed a bullet in her neck that she never knew about. 

She had no scar or clandestine past and swore she’d never been shot. 

Driving home afterward, I kept thinking, how is that even possible? I’m a reporter by training, so I dug into the medical literature, looking for examples of people who have survived gunshots to the neck or head. 

And then the novelist in me took over:  I imagined all kinds of wild scenarios, from amnesia to witness-protection programs to CIA plots. 

My protagonist discovers the bullet in her neck on page 8. 

What follows are 349 pages of pure fiction, focused on her quest to find out how on earth it got there and what on earth she’s going to do about it.

When crafting a thriller like this, what is your process for developing the storyline? 

Do you typically have the mystery solved beforehand, knowing where you’re headed, or do you build the story and motive organically as you progress through the writing?

I map out the whole thing to make sure it’s a story that can sustain 350 pages. 

But then I end up throwing out the road map as I go. 

My original outline is stuffed with plot twists that fell by the wayside, and it never mentions characters that end up playing significant roles. 

You get to know characters as you write them, and some prove more interesting than others (the nice thing about fiction is that you can kill off the ones who get on your nerves.)

One theme throughout The Bullet is that we should question how well we really know the people we love and even how well we know ourselves and what we are capable of. 

I start the book with a quote from one of my favorite writers, Robert Penn Warren. 

He writes that human beings are complicated contraptions, “not good or bad but… good and bad and the good comes out of the bad and the bad out of the good, and the devil take the hindmost.” 

Isn’t that great? 

I agree with him and tried to conceive all of my characters as complicated contraptions. 

That makes both the protagonist and the forces opposing her more interesting, and they kept surprising me as I wrote.

You have skillfully developed endearing characters with Caroline’s family in this book.

Which character did you find the most endearing?

Thank you. I have a soft spot for Beamer Beasley, the grizzled cop who helps Caroline unravel the secrets of her past. 

Writers shouldn’t admit to imagining which Hollywood star would play our characters. 

Still, Beamer is screaming to be played by Morgan Freeman, and really, wouldn’t we all want him on our side when investigating a gruesome crime? 

I also loved every scene with Madame Aubuchon. 

I could just picture her so clearly, in all her hauteur and brittleness, but also her intelligence and decency. 

As for Caroline’s family, a lot of readers have commented on how close she is to her brothers. They love and support her, even as they drive her nuts. 

I confess this sibling back-and-forth is entirely autobiographical.

My brother C.J. gets me riled up faster than anyone; you do not want to be in the room when the two of us get going on politics or feminism or the relative merits of tofu vs. steak. 

But as I note in the Acknowledgments, C.J. is also hands down the person I would want beside me in a bar brawl.

Mary Louise Kelly
Source: KPLU

How do you think your background as a reporter has helped you as a writer?

My journalism training helps enormously with dialogue because when you write for broadcast, you strive to write conversationally. 

Most of us write in complete, grammatically correct sentences because that’s how our high school teachers and college professors taught us. 

But that’s not how people talk; it takes time to unlearn it.

Writing for radio gave me a head start. 

It also instilled an instinct for storytelling. 

At NPR, we aim for the “driveway moment” – that moment when a listener has made it home, and he’s got the car in park, and he needs to get inside, but he’s listening to something so gripping he can’t turn it off. 

You want to spool out enough detail that the listener gets hooked while holding enough back that he wants to keep listening. 

That’s key to writing a good novel, although I suppose the goal shifts to creating a  “nightstand moment” – when a reader sits up turning pages, well after he knows he should have chucked the novel on his nightstand and turned out the light.

Caroline’s irritation with the reporters made me chuckle since you have worked as an NPR & BBC reporter. 

In one line, she says, “Reporters. Honestly. What an exhausting profession, to be professionally trained to be relentless.” 

Is it exhausting?

Actually, no. 

It’s exhilarating. 

There was a great line in a New Yorker profile of Samantha Power, President Obama’s ambassador to the U.N. 

The writer describes Power, a former journalist, as retaining “a reporter’s instinct for amassing facts and deploying them to extract more.” 

That’s exactly right. 

You find out one interesting thing, and it makes you want to dig and find out more. 

Get a bunch of reporters together, swapping stories about that time on deadline on the Khyber Pass, or banging on voters’ doors in Iowa, or quizzing the President in a White House press conference, and at some point, we all break into grins, and somebody says out loud what everyone is thinking:  I can’t believe we actually get paid to do this.

 Since this is your second book, did you find it easier or harder to write than your first?

This second one took less time. 

Maybe I’m getting faster, but more likely, it’s because the first time around, I was working full-time as NPR’s Pentagon correspondent. 

While writing Anonymous Sources, I kept jetting off on reporting trips to war zones, and when I was home in Washington, I was filing daily news reports from the Pentagon. 

Writing fiction was my third priority, after my day job and after being a wife and mom.

The Bullet took me 16 months, from sitting down to write Chapter One to handing in a full draft of the manuscript. 

Then come months of editing and polishing, and proofreading. 

Right now I’m ramping up again on journalism; I have dearly (insanely?) missed the daily deadlines and being engaged in the national dialogue on everything from race to politics to technology. 

I hope I’ll end up with loads of fresh ideas for my fiction; my agent fears I’ll take a decade to produce another book. But another side effect of being a reporter is that I write fast, so watch this space!

If you could tell anyone to read one book (other than your own) what would that book be?

I would tell my brother to read Birdsong, the 1993 novel by Sebastian Faulks. 

It’s about a British soldier in France during World War I, and it is the most gorgeous epic of love and war, and regrets. 

I’ve been telling my brother to read it for twenty years now, and he keeps refusing, at this point, out of sheer orneriness. 

C.J., consider yourself publicly challenged.

Mary Louise Kelly
Mary Louise Kelly, photographed for NPR, 6 September 2022, in Washington DC. Photo by Mike Morgan for NPR.

New to Mary Louise Kelly? Here are some answers to your most frequently asked questions!

Is Mary Louise Kelly still at NPR?

Mary Louise Kelly is the co-host of NPR’s acclaimed afternoon news magazine All Things Considered.

With non-stop breaking news stories and deadlines at work, she has reported as an NPR correspondent covering various global locations and even war zones. 

Her decision to leave NPR twice was influenced by her youngest son’s medical issues, realizing the importance of being present at home.

What are the best Mary Louise Kelly books?

My favorite book is, The Bullet, but I’m looking forward to reading her new parenting memoir soon.

Her highest-rated novel on GoodReads is her debut, Anonymous Sources.

Is it necessary to read Mary Louise Kelly’s books in a specific order?

No, each book is a standalone story.

What are the Mary books in the order published?

  • Anonymous Sources (2013)
  • The Bullet (2015)
  • It Goes. So. Fast.:  The Year of No Do-Overs (2023)
Read The Best Mary Louise Kelly Books (Interview)

Mary Louise Kelly Books

Mary Louise Kelly is an American broadcaster and author.

Previously, she spent a decade as a national security correspondent for NPR News and kept that focus as an anchor.

In her ongoing role, she has covered news in Russia, North Korea, Iran, Ukraine, and beyond.

Mary Louise was educated at Harvard University and the University of Cambridge in England.

A Georgia native, her first job was as a staff writer at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

She lives in Washington, D.C., and is the mom of two boys.

Browse this list of all the Mary Louise Kelly books.

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Love this author interview? Stream the Book Gang Podcast wherever you get podcasts. We discuss debuts, backlist, and under-the-radar book gems with your favorite authors.

Book Gang Podcast

TELL ME: What is your favorite Mary Louise book?

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The Best Sober Memoirs to Read Now

Friday, August 4th, 2023

Emily Lynn Paulson discusses her eye-opening memoir, Hey, Hun! Learn how rising to the top of an MLM led to her addiction and recovery in a pyramid scheme.

The Best Sober Memoirs to Read Now

Join us in this eye-opening Book Gang episode with Emily Lynn Paulson, author of Hey, Hun: Sales, Sisterhood, Supremacy, and the Other Lies Behind Multilevel Marketing

Hey, Hun: Sales, Sisterhood, Supremacy, and the Other Lies Behind Multilevel Marketing by Emily Lynn Paulson

What is the most Googled fact about Emily Lynn Paulson?

At the time of this recording, roughly 125 people each month, likely after reading this memoir, ask this question- what MLM was Emily Paulson in?

Today we discuss why she chose a fictitious name for her beauty brand, and what she hopes it signals to the reader.

Pulled into a high-pressure sales routine, Emily joins the #girlboss community for an MLM beauty brand. 

Rising to the top of the pyramid required Paulson never to take no for an answer. As a result, Paulson achieves millionaire status, but it costs her the expense of loved ones, her sobriety, her health, and her moral compass. 

Emily unveils the darker side of multi-level marketing companies and cult-like ideologies through her well-researched memoir.

We also discuss how her relationship with alcohol has changed since this time and the unexpected joy of being sober. 

 Emily brings her favorite books and discusses her best alcohol-free mocktails for your summer.

The Best Books About Addiction and Recovery

Today’s BONUS BOOK LIST includes the best books on addiction and recovery we’ve read for our summer series that share the magic of a sober life. 

This includes fiction, nonfiction, and memoir selections. 

Emily Lynn Paulson author of Hey, Hun

Meet Emily Lynn Paulson

Emily Lynn Paulson is an accomplished author known for her books Highlight Real: Finding Honesty and Recovery Beyond the Filtered Life and Hey, Hun: Sales, Sisterhood, Supremacy, and the Other Lies Behind Multilevel Marketing.

Her impactful TEDx talks challenge parenting norms, alcohol use, and feminism.

Featured in major publications like the Today Show, Tamron Hall Show, and the New York Times, Emily resides in Central Oregon with her husband and five children. 

The Best Sober Memoirs to Read Now

Listen to the Book Gang Podcast:

Listen below or listen on your favorite podcast listening platform!

Joining the Patreon community is an affordable way to support the show and gain access to a wealth of resources, including our monthly FULLY BOOKED buzzy new release show, exclusive author interviews, music playlists, and more! 

Mentioned in this episode:

Hey, Hun by Emily Lynn Paulson

De Soi Non-Alcoholic Aperitifs


Amy’s Favorite Copper Mugs

Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction by Elizabeth Vargas

Push Off From Here: Nine Essential Truths to Get You Through Sobriety by Laura McKowen

We Are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life by Laura McKowen

Drinking Games by Sarah Levy

Cup of Jo

It’s Not About the Wine: The Loaded Truth Behind the Mommy Wine Culture by Celeste Yvonne

The Ultimate Mom Challenge

Dry Humping: A Guide to Dating, Relating and Hooking Up Without the Booze by Tawny Lara

2023 MomAdvice Summer Reading Guide

Shop the above (Amazon) links or through my Book Gang Bookshop Page!! They pay a 10% commission on every sale and match 10% to independent bookstores.

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The Best Books on Addiction and Recovery

Friday, August 4th, 2023

Discover the best books on addiction and recovery in this book list. From memoirs to fiction, you’ll learn more about substance abuse from a new perspective.

The Best Books on Addiction and Recovery

Discover the best books about addiction and recovery in this book list. From memoirs to fiction, you’ll learn more about substance abuse from a new perspective.

If you missed the Book Gang podcast, Emily Paulson joined me to discuss her riveting memoir, Hey Hun! 

We discuss how her relationship with alcohol has evolved since that time and the unexpected joys she discovered on her journey to sobriety.

Listen to the full episode (the show notes are located here) below and subscribe to the Book Gang podcast for more episodes like this one.

In honor of today’s topic, Emily and I share our favorite books on addiction and recovery. While our episode only covered nonfiction, I have many fiction books that have inspired me over the years to include too. 

Remember, you can find our book club member recommendations at the end of our book lists!

If you love this list, you can support my work through a one-time donation on Buy Me a Coffee or join our Patreon community for book reviews. The financial support helps us keep the lights on in our online space.

The Best Books on Addiction and Recovery

The Best Books About Addiction and Recovery

Immerse yourself in addiction fiction. quit lit, and sober memoirs with eye-opening narratives, shedding light on the complex world of substance abuse from unique and enlightening perspectives.

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.


Discover these new self-help books on addiction to guide and support those seeking to overcome these struggles.


These gripping sober memoirs on addiction are penned by individuals who bravely share their personal stories with substance abuse and recovery. This list includes celebrity memoirs who have navigated addiction in the public spotlight.


Fiction books on addiction and substance use disorders can be a powerful tool for understanding addiction to alcohol or drugs.

From 12-step programs to navigating addiction treatment facilities, these fictional stories can be a great addition to a quit-lit diet. 


Try these compelling narrative nonfiction books on addiction and recovery for your book stack.

Looking for more books from books about addiction? Here is a short list from the MomAdvice Book Club community.

A Million Little Pieces by James Frey

Beautiful Boy by David Sheff

Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari

Dreamland by Sam Quinones

love this post? don’t miss our FREE 2023 Summer Reading Guide!

2023 Summer Reading Guide from

What is your favorite book on addiction and recovery? Let us know in the comments below what this list is missing!

Amazon First Reads for August (Get Your FREE Book)

Tuesday, August 1st, 2023

Discover the best Amazon First Reads for August and get your FREE book now. Choose from a selection of Kindle book titles- a limited-time Prime member offer.

Amazon First Reads August 2023

This is an exceptional book list for August, and I hope you’ll take advantage of your opportunity to download your free book. From police procedurals to women’s fiction- this month promises a little something for everyone.

Be sure to scroll all the way down to see what I picked.

Each month, Prime members can choose one Kindle eBook from a selection of new releases for free, or purchase hardcover editions at discounted prices. It’s a great way to discover exciting reads and enjoy the latest titles before they hit the shelves.

What is Amazon First Reads?

If you need to familiarize yourself with the Amazon First Reads program (previously known as Kindle First), check out this post for all the details on this Prime member perk.

Amazon Prime First Reads

For my new readers, each month you have access to a free Kindle book just for being a Prime member

Make sure that when you add these to your cart, it shows the BUY IT NOW FOR FREE!

If it does not, you are not signed into your family’s Prime account.

To help you choose your selection, each month this post offers a brief synopsis on the books with early reviews and feedback. If you want to head straight to the landing page for these selections, head here.

Amazon First Reads for August (Get Your FREE Book)

August Kindle First Reads

Select one FREE Amazon First Reads book for August. Follow today's post's instructions to ensure your free book is activated.

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.


This month was really tough, but I’m going to go with Don’t Forget to Write. My goal is to read MORE joyful Jewish stories this year.

My second recommendation, though, is Androne because the writer’s background is so intriguing and it sounds like an excellent pick for fans of Andy Weir books.

TELL ME: What are you picking this month?