Category Archives: Book Club Picks

Review: Orphan Train and Blueberry Pancakes and Butter Syrup Recipe

orphan train christina baker kline novel book review blog recipe

Book Review: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

and My Blueberry Pancake and Butter Syrup Recipe

Genre: Historical fiction

Description from Amazon: Molly Ayer is close to “aging out” out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse…

As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life—answers that will ultimately free them both.

My Review: 4 out of 5 Stars. I had never before heard about the period in American history when orphans were sent on trains, lined up on platforms, and plucked away by complete strangers. Orphan Train tells the story of 2 very different orphans from 2 different time periods. However, as the story progresses, you begin to see the similarities between these 2 girls who have lost their families.

I really enjoyed this book and getting a glimpse into what it might have been like for an orphan in the early 1900s and even today. I will definitely be recommending this to my book club!

Food Quote from Book: “I think she’d prefer pancakes. Do you think she’d like blueberry pancakes?”

“Who doesn’t like blueberry pancakes?”

Blueberry Pancakes Recipe

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs white sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/8 c milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbs vegetable oil
  • Fresh Blueberries

Mix dry ingredients together in large bowl. In separate bowl, mix wet ingredients and add to dry ingredients until smooth. Poor onto hot griddle in 1/4 c measurements. Sprinkle with blueberries. Flip. Server with syrup and more blueberries.

Butter Syrup Recipe (You’ll never want to buy syrup again! and this recipe is so easy!)

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 baking soda
  • dash salt

Melt whipping cream, butter, and sugar over med heat. Stir until mixture comes to barely a boil. Wisk in vanilla, baking soda, and dash of salt. Remove from heat. Serve over pancakes or waffles.



Book Club Favorites

book club reads fiction nonfictionIs your book club looking for the next good read? I love being part of a book club because it makes me stretch out of my literary comfort zone and try books I wouldn’t have otherwise read. The social interaction is fun and enlightening and the food that typically accompanies a meeting is always a bonus.

The following list of books are some of my favorites I read with my book club:

Ella Minnow Pea By Mark DunnElla Minnow Pea Mark Dunn Fiction book

Why I loved it: This quick read was fun and quirky. It had a unique  concept that can’t be found in any other books. Brilliant!




moloka'i historical novel fiction book clubMoloka’i by Alan Brennert

Why I loved it: I learned more about the leprosy colony in Kalaupapa, HI and I was engrossed in Rachel Kalama’s experiences– being ripped from her family and sent to Kalaupapa where she found love and friendship among the other lepers and caretakers.



poap joan historical fiction novelPope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross

Why I loved it: I hadn’t read any books that took place in the middle ages so that was a new experience for me (it was quite interesting to read about the religious heretics and the way women were treated by the men) and the discussion at book club was quite entertaining because we all had different beliefs about whether or not the story was true.



The thorn birds historical fiction novel

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

Why I loved it: I have to admit that it was the taboo relationship between Meggie and Catholic priest, Ralph de Briccasart, that kept me reading this book till the wee hours of the morning to find out what would happen between them. This also led to a great discussion about Catholic priests and their vow of celibacy conflicting with human nature.



unbroken nonfiction historical wwii war bookUnbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Why I loved it: Hillenbrand is amazing at research and gathering data for her books. Learning about WWII aviation was nearly as fascinating to me as Louis Zamperini’s  story of survival and endurance–which is a story that will stay with you forever and can never be forgotten.



star-girlStar Girl by Jerry Spinelli

Why I loved it: Star Girl is an infectious character. She had me in awe throughout the entire book. My only regret is that I didn’t read this book in middle school.




cheaperCheaper by the Dozen By Frank B. Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

Why I loved it: Don’t let the silly movie of the same name (and that’s all they have in common) keep you from reading this nonfiction book about how this quirky family of 14 lives their day-t0-day life. The eccentric father is an especially hilarious character.



a-thousand-splendid-sunsA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Why I loved it: Where do I start? Khaled Hosseini is one of my favorite authors because his writing is so beautiful and his stories pull at your heart strings. A Thousand Splendid Suns was engrossing and heartbreaking and unputdownable.




wonderWonder by R.J. Palacio Left to tell: discovering God amist the Rwandan holocaust

Why I loved it: My 6th grade daughter read this with me and it touched me that after finishing the book she broke into tears and asked me why anybody would treat a person differently just because of their looks. I loved the lessons she learned in this book and I know it will help her be more loving to those around her who are “different”. I highly recommend this book to middle schoolers.


Leftleft-to-tell to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwanda Holocaust by Immaculee Llibagiza

Why I loved it: The main lesson I learned from this book is that no matter what hell you are enduring for however long, you can find peace by turning to God and putting your trust in him. Your circumstances might not change but the way you feel and your outlook can change. This is an amazing, poignant story that I highly recommend to anyone.