Cherry Pie & American Royals


According to family lore, my great, great, etc. grandfather was William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania. “If America was a monarchy,” I often tease, “I’d be a princess.” 

Okay, so maybe I wouldn’t be a princess…but a duchess at least? Some sort of countess? Maybe a baroness, like in Sound of Music? At the very least, I hope I’d have a noble role in the world of American Royals.

Written by Katharine McGee, American Royals and its sequel Majesty imagine what the modern world would look like if George Washington had been America’s first king instead of president. Over two hundred years later, Princess Beatrice prepares to be America’s first queen regent (a queen who rules by her own right, instead of through marriage to a king known as a queen consort). Her duty looms on the horizon, and she’s not sure she’s ready for it. Love begins to complicate matters, as it always does.

Meanwhile, her younger twin siblings must manage their own lives as second and third in line to the throne. While Princess Samantha grapples with life as the “spare” and Prince Jefferson has two girls vying for his attention, rumors, betrayal, and rebellion fly. 

American Royals is a smart, drama-filled, binge-worthy series. The rotating perspective of the dynamic cast of girl characters throughout the books means things never go stale. Getting the entire picture from conflicting viewpoints as a reader creates a compelling reading experience, making one question, “What would I do? Who should I be rooting for?” While the book is paced fast, not much happens by way of plot, which was perfectly fine with me. McGee’s writing style and characters are captivating enough on their own.

Although, I will say that American Royals lands on such a fabulous cliffhanger (I’m talking CHILLS!), that you’ll want to have Majesty close by to leap into book two. Majesty wraps up a bit nicer than the first book, but I’m still holding out hope for a book three…I just can’t get enough.

This isn’t a deep, philosophical read. There are no deep dives into politics, the consequences of colonialism, or the tenets of a monarchy versus democracy. There are a few cheeky asides about the shortcomings of our current government structure, but the book fails to explore any meaningful criticism in depth, or acknowledge the pitfalls of monarchy or imperialism as well. 

Still, if you’re looking for something fun, frothy, and full of high school drama at high stakes, this is the series for you. Don’t come to this book looking to explore a true alternate reality, thorough world-building, and political commentary. American Royals is essentially if The Princess Diaries and Gossip Girl got together and had a melodramatic, teenage soap opera baby. And I loved it.

Because the royals are descended from George Washington, cherries are a noble symbol of the House of Washington royal family throughout the series. I attempted to combine the fictional royal symbol of cherries with the real world patriotic love of pie in this simple cherry pie.

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PB&J Cookies and Daisy Jones & the Six


One of the greatest decades of rock and roll comes to life off the pages of Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. The book follows the story of fictional rock band Daisy Jones & the Six including their origins, rise to fame, and personal demises. A brilliant piece of work, Reid’s book centers strong and complex female characters wrapped up in an intoxicating thrill ride you can only find on the ‘70s rock scene.

Daisy Jones & the Six feels less like a novel and more like a historical artifact. I found myself wanting to look up iconic album covers described and to listen to the songs as I read about their creation. The genius behind this impact is Reid’s decision to tell this story as if it’s an oral history. The book is written as a transcript of interviews with various members of the band and other relevant parties. By interweaving these retrospective narratives, Reid is able to develop a clear voice for each personality—voices that often tell conflicting sides to the same story.

Here, Reid is able to toy with the idea of memory and perspective. Each person experiences the same moment differently. Add the wares of time, personal bias, and desires (conscious or unconscious) to control the narrative, and the memory of the moment for one person can be unrecognizable from the memory of another person who experienced the same moment. This theme appears throughout the novel, especially between icon Daisy and front man Billy as tensions rise. The narrator warns us early on, “The truth often lies, unclaimed, in the middle.”

Switching between the perspectives of an ever-rotating cast of characters could have provided difficulties with fully developing each character as a whole…except, it didn’t. Reid’s masterful character development and ability to give distinctive voices to her cast make for seamless transitions between each interviewee. Quickly, you are able to understand and even hear these (fictional) historic figures come to life. And it’s nearly impossible to believe that none of it was ever real.

Nearly impossible. The reason why it is possible to believe is because it’s Taylor Jenkins Reid, a master of storytelling and characterization. Daisy Jones & the Six is just one of her many masterpieces. I’ve already since devoured The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (more on that one another time…) and can’t wait to continue working my way through the Taylor Jenkins Reid library.

While Daisy Jones & the Six doesn’t feature a lot of food, there was a sweet moment between Daisy and Julia, Billy’s daughter, where Daisy takes the little girl to eat a peanut butter cookie. That was all I needed. I modified Shelly Jaronsky’s peanut butter & jelly cookie recipe. Just like you can’t imagine Daisy Jones without The Six, it’s hard to imagine peanut butter without jelly—two pairings so classic, better duos have yet to form (ok, except maybe milk and cookies?). I followed Jaronsky’s measurements and instructions, but instead of adding a little bit of peanut butter and jelly to each cookie I scooped out, I made a well in one cookie and topped it with another cookie in order to form a much larger cookie that could contain more pb&j. My advice when making this recipe is to really go for it with the fillings. Mine didn’t have quite as much jelly as I desired, and I’ll definitely be stuffing my next cookies so that they’re practically bursting in the future! Just like in Daisy Jones & The Six, a little mess can make for something amazing.