Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Desire Lines" by Christina Baker Kline and Sesame Bagels with Homemade Blueberry Cream Cheese Spread

Desire lines--"Strictly speaking, it's a landscape-architecture term for the paths people create when they cut across the grass instead of taking a prescribed route--people who follow their desires, if you want to be literal."  In Desire Lines, a novel by Christina Baker Kline, they represent the paths we take in life, or the paths we find ourselves on. In Kathryn's case, she finds herself lost and aimless in her failed marriage and unsatisfying career. She heads back to Bangor, Maine, where she grew up and where her life stalled with the disappearance of her best friend Jennifer on graduation night back in 1986. Tasked with writing an article for the local paper to coincide with the 10-year class reunion and Jennifer's disappearance, Kathryn looks for answers and tries to find herself along the way. 

Publisher's Blurb:

On the night of her high school graduation, Kathryn Campbell sits around a bonfire with her four closest friends, including the beautiful but erratic Jennifer. “I’ll be fine,” Jennifer says, as she walks away from the dying embers and towards the darkness of the woods. She never comes back.

Ten years later, Kathryn has tried to build a life for herself, with a marriage and a career as a journalist, but she still feels the conspicuous void of Jennifer’s disappearance. When her divorce sends her reeling back to the Maine town where she grew up, she finds herself plunged into a sea of memories. With nothing left to lose, she is determined to answer one simple question: What happened to Jennifer Pelletier?

Paperback: 384 pages 
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (August 12, 2014)

This is my second Christina Baker Kline book, (you can read my Book Tour review of Sweet Water here--along with the recipe some tasty Sparkling Tarragon Gin Lemonade.) I liked the characters, especially Kathryn (although at times I wanted to shake her), and her high school friend and currently developing romantic interest Jack. The family dynamics between Kathryn, her divorced parents, grandmother, and dad's second wife seemed realistic. I related to the high school in the 80's flashbacks--the music, the times, and the author's description of the reunion reminded me of my own 10-year. "Age and experience are recorded differently on each face--some are fleshier, some fit, some shockingly older, some virtually unchanged." The book has enough of a mystery to have me change my mind several times on who was responsible for Jennifer's disappearance while wondering who knew what, and what actually happened to her. In the end the mystery isn't completely wrapped up but it was satisfying enough.There were a few suspenseful moments but the story unfurls itself slowly, in small bits and is more on the relationships--friends and family, Kathryn's self discovery, and her realization that she  doesn't know her friends as well as she thought she did--everyone has some secrets that they hide. Overall an easy and enjoyable read for a summer weekend.

Christina Baker Kline was born in England and raised in Maine. The author of five novels, including the runaway bestseller Orphan Train, Kline has taught literature and creative writing at Yale, New York University, and Fordham. She lives outside of New York City.
Find out more about Kline at her website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

There is food mentioned in the book--vegetable lasagna, mussels and salad, curried chicken salad and cold artichokes, pizza, banana-walnut pancakes with maple syrup, cold cereal and frozen pot pies, dinner at an Italian restaurant with 'meatballs the size of tennis balls' and a bagel shop with bialys and an oddly appealing matzoh-ball pea soup. Blueberries, a popular Maine fruit, were mentioned a few times--trains 'carrying potatoes from Fort Kent and blueberries from Cherryfield,' Blueberry lager, and a blueberry-filled jelly doughnut. While trying to come up with an angle to start the story, Kathryn finds herself at the Bagel Shop with a cup of coffee and a sesame bagel with blueberry cream cheese, and that's what I decided to make as my dish inspired by the book. A big puffy toasted sesame seed bagel slathered with homemade Blueberry Cream Cheese Spread is a great way to start a summer morning. I like the combination of lemon and blueberry so I added lemon juice and zest and a touch of good maple syrup to sweeten things up.  

Blueberry Cream Cheese Spread
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 1 1/4 Cups)

1/2  cup fresh blueberries + extra to garnish
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened to room temp
1 Tbsp maple syrup or other sweetener (optional)
zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Rinse and drain blueberries, making sure to remove any stems/dried leaves. Place blueberries into a small saucepan and add the maple syrup, lemon zest and juice. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally for 4-5 minutes or until berries have softened. Remove from the heat and cool completely. (You can also put them into the fridge to cool faster.)

Place the cream cheese into a mixing bowl and whip with an electric mixer for a minute or two. Using a slotted spoon, slowly add in the berries a bit at a time until thoroughly mixed into cream cheese--scraping down the bowl to make sure it is all mixed in. Add as much of the berry liquid as needed to maintain a good creamy, spreadable consistency. I like to have it slightly 'chunky' with bits of berry but you can process it until it is the consistency you like. Leftover berries and liquid are good on ice cream or on top of yogurt.

Place in serving dish and refrigerate, covered, until firm or until needed. Garnish with extra blueberries. Spread on toasted bagels and enjoy. 

Notes/Results: Gorgeously purple and studded with little chunks of blueberries, this is a creamy and indulgent bagel spread. If you want a smoother spread and/or don't have fresh blueberries, you could sub in a good blueberry jam. The lemon brightens things up a bit and depending on how sweet your berries are and how sweet you like your spreads, you can omit the maple syrup or adjust it to your taste. Simple to throw together and more flavor than the store-bought variety, it's worth the small amount of time and effort. I would make it again.   

Note: A review copy of "Desire Lines" was provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own. 
You can see the stops for the rest of the TLC Book Tours and Reviews here.



  1. LOVE the color of that cream cheese. If it's any indicator of the flavor actually in the spread, than it's a good one!

  2. It never occurred to me to blend things into plain cream cheese but now I'm thinking of all the delicious combinations I could make ... yum!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.


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