The Olive Tree by Lucinda Riley

*This book was sent to me by PanMacmillan South Africa in exchange for an honest review*

Synopsis:

”It has been twenty-four years since a young Helena spent a magical holiday in Cyprus, where she fell in love for the first time. When the now crumbling house, ‘Pandora’, is left to her by her godfather, she returns to spend the summer there with her family.

Yet as soon as Helena arrives at Pandora, she knows that its idyllic beauty masks a web of secrets that she has kept from William, her husband, and Alex, her son. At the difficult age of thirteen, Alex is torn between protecting his beloved mother, and growing up. And equally desperate to learn the truth about his real father. . .

When, by chance, Helena meets her childhood sweetheart, a chain of events is set in motion that threatens to make her past and present collide. Both Helena and Alex know that life will never be the same, once Pandora’s secrets have been revealed.”

My thoughts:

This book is the perfect summer read. As it is currently summer and summer holidays for many of us in South Africa, this is the perfect book to pick up or take away with you on your beach holiday. I rated it 5/5 stars, here’s why:

The first thing that really stood out to me was how beautifully described everything was. One of the best things about reading is that books can transport you to a whole new world and so books that have such intricate and lovely descriptive detail are only more enjoyable to read.

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The book in general is written very well and the introduction was done expertly. It was gripping and excellently written which instantly pulled me into its pages. From reading the introductory pages I was hooked and each time I picked the book up I was transported to a world in Cyprus. The author took me to Greece with the characters and that was the best thing.

The world around me would instantly melt away and suddenly I was there, with the characters, who I became very attached to. Their drama was my drama, I felt the happiness and the pain, the love and the loss, the excitement and the memories. It all became a part of me.

The characters were astounding and very real. I loved them and hated them and I never wanted to leave them. I learnt something from all of them and most importantly they made me very happy.

I fell in love with Cyprus through this book and promptly added it to my bucket list. I could see the landscape through the vivid descriptions even though I have never even seen pictures of Cyprus before. It also really made me want to go on a summer holiday and I loved it because for a little while each day whilst I was reading it, I was on a summer holiday in Cyprus.

The plot was really good and it sucked me in more than I expected it to. There was also an incredible plot twist that had my jaw drop from its hinges and that was completely un-guessable, which is obviously the best kind of twists!

I feel like this book is a classic novel in the sense that it was a story full of drama and ups and downs. A story more than anything, just a classic story. There was nothing too crazy or too difficult to process. It was easy to digest and an absolute pleasure to read. It was enjoyable with the right amount of lightheartedness and seriousness. It was also funny and interesting. Simply put – a great read.

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Let me know your thoughts on The Olive Tree if you’ve read it and tell me if you’ve visited Cyprus and if not do you want to?

xx

tbn

*A huge thank you to PanMacmillan South Africa for sending me a copy to review. I am forever grateful.

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The Heir by Kiera Cass

Synopsis:

“Princess Eadlyn has grown up hearing endless stories about how her mother and father met. Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won the heart of Prince Maxon – and they lived happily ever after.

Eadlyn doesn’t expect her own story to end in romance – she has no interest in repeating the fairy tale. But a princess’s life is never entirely her own – and Eadlyn cannot escape her very own Selection, and one particular entry who may just capture her heart…”

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My thoughts:

I am a hopeless romantic. I adore love stories above all because they can truly transport me into an entirely different world to my own. Something about that is completely magical. So, naturally the Selection trilogy became a fast favourite of mine. I loved the romance and the bonus is that they aren’t all about the romance. They have a political side to them that is just as intriguing, just as interesting as all of the romance which makes them the perfect books for me. Therefore, obviously I was overjoyed to hear that there was to be a fourth book. Whilst The Heir was an excellent read in many ways, it did not live up to its predecessors entirely which is why I rated it 4/5 stars.

I have to first talk about the cover. No, books should not be judged by their covers but that does not mean that the covers of books don’t have any impact. Books with beautiful covers are just lovely to hold in your hand, to own and, of course, to photograph. All of the selection novels have the most stunning covers and I think that this one is my favourite – the colour scheme is stunning!

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The book is as they all are completely addictive and impossible to put down. I could sit and read it in a single sitting if I didn’t have actual responsibilities. It was a real page-turner, full of surprises and excitement on each page.

Kiera Cass’s writing is beautiful and that did not change. The Heir was just as nicely written as the other three. Kiera’s writing flows along in an addictive way and she has a knack for bringing her characters out of the page to the point where it feels like you’re watching them do the things you’re reading. I love that. I can picture each thing, in great detail, in my head. And that is one of the greatest qualities a book can have.

Now for the characters, I am so happy that Eadlyn is such a strong women. I think that having strong female characters is so important and I love that she is independent, opinionated, strong-willed and clever. I love that she is not the cliché princess. It makes all the difference in the world. Reading about strong female characters is also very empowering and inspiring. As for the other characters, I liked them too but I could not relate to any of the characters, nor did I feel too strongly for any of them.

That is one of the things I didn’t quite like about this book. With the first three I was in it with the characters whereas with these characters I don’t feel that.

I also miss the romance. There is romance in this one but it’s not the same and I really miss that. Maybe I just miss America and Maxon 🙂 I feel like it’s just not the same as the first three, I didn’t enjoy it as much even though I did enjoy it.

It was still extremely exciting to jump back into the world of the Selection and I loved reading it. As with all of our favourite books we constantly want more to read and its wonderful when the authors give that to us because we get to re-enter these magical worlds and be whisked away once more…

If you’ve read it let me know what you thought and if you haven’t, are you going to? Let’s chat in the comments down below!

xx

tbn

 

 

 

Reading motivation for kids

Ever since I could read I wanted to. As a kid I loved reading and that love only grew as I got older. However, the other day I realised that not all kids enjoy reading, in fact lots of kids consider it boring and think of it as a chore. I had some ideas on what I think might help motivate children who don’t particularly like reading to read.

These tips might be useful to parents, caregivers or teachers.

Before I begin I would like to mention that I am no professional and all of the content in this post are my thoughts and opinions. If I do contradict any specific scientific proofs please let me know so that it may be corrected.

I think that the key is to make kids want to read, it should never feel like work or a chore. It should be something to look forward to.  Essentially, make a child fall in love with reading. Here are some of the ideas you can use:

1. Create a reading treasure box

Fill a box with small things that children like. For example, little sweets, chocolate coins, stickers, stationary, small toys, key rings etc. Once they have reached their reading goal for the day or perhaps the week, they get to choose something from the box. The box should be something exciting and something that they look forward to. This will create a form of motivation for them and they will want to read. It gives them something to work towards.

2. Make reading exciting

Get a child interested in a book by reading the beginning pages of the book out loud. Make it exciting by doing all of the voices and expressions, create suspense and tension with your voice and then suddenly, STOP, just before an intriguing bit. Get them on the edge of their seats before stopping abruptly. This should spark a chil’s curiosity and they’ll want to know what happens. You then tell them that they have to read themselves to find out. Sometimes children just need a little help to bring their imaginations to life. Staring at the words on the pages trying to be excited by it can be very intimidating and thus become boring. By doing all the voices, a child will become gripped by the book and natural curiosity will make him want to find out what happens next.

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3. Use visuals

This somewhat stems from the previous point – children sometimes need a little help to spark their imagination. Show them pictures related to the book or little drawings of the characters or even book trailers from YouTube. These might spark their interest and get them into the book or get them to fall in love with the characters. Another interesting thing to do which can also be really fun is: read them a description of a character or a few characters from the book and ask them to draw what they think the character looks like from the description, in this way children may realise that their imaginations are one of the best places to hang out and that they can in fact create anything with it. Also seeing their own drawings of the characters may cause them to want to know what the characters get up to and how they end up.

4. Use audio books

Audio books serve the same purpose as doing the voices out loud. It creates an interest for the book in the child without the child having to read the words. Again, switch it off just before a main event or a crazy twist and the child has to read on to find out what happens.

5. Choose the right book

As J.K.Rowling said: “If you don’t like reading you haven’t found the right book.” I think that many children don’t enjoy reading because they are forced to read books about things that they have no interest in. If you’ve already tried getting a child to read various different children’s classics like Harry Potter and he still shows no interest in reading, ask him what he would like to read or pick a book relating to something he is interested in. The point is to get them reading, no matter what it is. You can even try a different form of reading so instead of novels, maybe graphic novels, highly illustrated books, magazines or comic books.

6. Make fun reading snacks

These don’t have to be very elaborate, just little snacks that children enjoy. For example, apple slices, dried fruit, gummies, biscuits, almonds e.t.c I once saw a picture somewhere of a packet of gummy worms labelled ‘bookworms’ to enjoy whilst reading and I thought that was really cute. Something like that gives children something to look forward to during reading time and may make them want to read more because of it.

7. Free time once the goal is reached

Children generally love time to themselves to do whatever they like. Promising 5-10 minutes of free time if they reach the reading goal will excite them and give them a goal to work towards. The idea is that in the process of reaching that goal, they fall in love with what they’re reading without even realising it.

8. Find out why reading is the enemy

Many children don’t enjoy reading because of some underlying cause. It might be that they find reading difficult or because they can’t seem to make sense of the words or it’s a book that they hate. Whatever it is there is usually a reason behind their dislike for reading. Find out what it is and fix it.

Book suggestions

As I said before, the key is to find a book that the child will like and be interested in. These are some suggestions of popular and wonderful children’s books which I have read and loved that may be a hit although it’s not guaranteed.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dhal 

Matilda by Roald Dhal 

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dhal 

The BFG by Roald Dhal 

Alice’s adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol 

The Harry Potter series by J.K.Rowling

Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend (realeasing in South Africa in November 2017)

The Secret Seven by Enid Blyton

Mallory Towers by Enid Blyton

The island/castle of adventure by Enid Blyton

The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton

Heidi by Johanna Spyri

A little princes by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

The Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz

Anything by Dr. Suess

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

*All of the above titles except Nevermoor are available at Exclusive Books, Readers Warehouse and Takealot.com (Nevermoor will be available in South Africa next month in all leading bookstores)

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I hope that this post was helpful. Please do leave me a comment below telling me if it was. I’d love to know. You can pop me a comment or an email through my instagram page too.

xx

tbn

*This post is in not sponsored by Exclusive Books, Readers Warehouse or Takelot.com 

The Bookstagram accounts you should be following

Long before I had my own bookish account I used to follow a couple of bookstagrammers on my personal account. They were my inspiration to start an account of my own. This post is dedicated to them.

I would like to share with you my top ten bookstagram accounts, some of them I’ve been following for years, even before thebookishnerd was born and some I discovered through thebookishnerd but all of them are beautiful and they inspire me with each post.

So without further ado here they are (in no particular order):

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Created by a fellow South African book blogger, Nihaad, read_and_seek is one of my favourite accounts to look through. Nihaad’s pictures are completely stunning and right up my street. I am a huge fan of the clean and simple white background and bursts of colour. I also notice that we have similar opinions on books that we’ve both read and so I trust her book recommendations 100% and will definitely buy anything she enjoyed because in all likelihood I’m pretty sure I’ll love it too!

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I have one word: aesthetic. Emmanuel’s page is one of my all time favourites for so long now. I really cannot tell you how beautiful his pictures are. His account is where I always go to for inspiration, not just for bookish pictures but in general. The creativity behind each one is astounding and his editing skills are next level! I do also adore the pictures that don’t have books in them, pictures of buildings and people and art. Overall an incredibly pleasing account to look at with lovely and inspiring captions to read.

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For the prettiest flatlays ever insignificant.beauties is the perfect account. Bright, colourful and adorable the pictures on this account are a mood lifter. I only just discovered Esli’s account a little while ago but I fell in love with it instantly. Her pictures are so bright and happy and they feature the cutest book merch! Also, the clean white background, I really am a fan of it. Esli is a rep for allthingsbookish and owlcratejr and it’s very easy to see why.

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Creativity explosion! I am obsessed with Cody’s account. She has the most impressive tea collection and the pictures she takes of them are so beautiful. Her instagram story is my favourite to watch, she is always so bubbly and passionate about what she’s talking about. It’s so inspiring. Her flatlay skills are extremely on point, I love reading her captions and all of the different themes in her account are so pretty and unique.

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Raechel’s account is simple, elegant and very, very pretty. I love scrolling through her pictures. They are completely unique and just so nice to look at. I feel like we have a similar taste in books and I’m constantly adding books from her account to my tbr pile. Her captions are also short and sweet which I love and find so refreshing because most captions on bookstagram (including my own) are quite long and its nice to have a change.

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So aesthetically pleasing, Sumaiyya’s account is really lovely. I’ve been following her for a while now, from before I had my own account and I love all of her pictures. Now, I’m not really a cat person but the pictures of her cat make me want to get a cat and that’s saying something! I do also think that her account has the best pictures of books with coffee. Just the overall look of her account is so beautiful, everything fits together so well yet each one is totally different and it feels cozy. I don’t know if that even makes any sense but it feels warm and inviting and cozy! On top of all of that we share a Hogwarts house – Ravenclaw 🙂

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Photo composition goals. Dee’s account is one of my biggest inspirations. I genuinely believe that she needs more recognition. Her account is one that makes me happy. Just looking at the pictures takes me to a happy place and reminds me of why I love books and taking pictures of books. Each picture is different and beautiful in a new way. And she is in Ravenclaw too! Her pictures look great all next to each other and individually and I. Love. It.

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Can we please just take a minute for all of those Harry Potter pictures?! Oh my gosh! Aleema’s account is so amazing I’m pretty sure I gasped audibly the first time I saw it. Everything about her theme and all of those gorgeous browns screams aesthetic. I can only dream of having an account that is so well organised, so beautiful, hugely creative and original. I have not seen anything like it. As I said before, I am in love with her Harry Potter pictures (and all her other pictures!!) From I first saw her account and read some of her captions I just want to meet her because she seems like the coolest person ever. And she is very, very talented – I could scroll through her account forever.

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Again, the clean white background instantly makes it a favourite. Andrew’s account makes me want to push myself to the very limits of my creativity. Each of his pictures is so wonderfully composed and so neat and creative. His flatlays are very original and so pleasing to look at. His pictures are minimalistic and I’m obsessed with that. His captions are always a delight to read – cheerful and with a nice question at the end of each one.

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Just the name alone is the cutest thing! Sarah’s pictures however are just as cute. Another account I can’t stop scrolling through. On top of all of the beautiful bookish pictures, Sarah posts pictures of her delicious looking baked goods. If there’s two things I love its books and baking, the two of them together, for me, is a match made in heaven! Her captions are so inspiring and her pictures are just wow. Her entire account oozes creativity and passion and I am all for it!

I’m aware that I fangirled through this entire post but I love these accounts so much that I can’t help but gush. They all inspire, motivate and push me to my creative limits and I am very grateful for them.

You can check all of these accounts out by clicking on their names and please do, I think it’s worth the time.

xx

tbn

* All opinions in this post are entirely my own.*

 

Truth or Dare by Nonn Pratt

*This book was sent to me by PanMacmillan South Africa in exchange for an honest review*

Synopsis:

This book does not actually have a synopsis. The cover is really cool though, it has two sides that both have the title on but they’re upside down. The book is actually written in two parts and you have to physically turn the book upside down to read the second part. It is very intriguing and makes up for there not being a synopsis (I’m not sure that I’ve explained it very well though, the pictures should help make sense of this.)

My thoughts:

This book is very different in a really good way and the list I wrote whilst I was reading it raves on for pages about its good things however, there were some things about it that I did not quite like which is why I gave it 4/5 stars.

The writing style was really great and very unique which I liked but I also disliked, in the beginning I found it a bit difficult to read and I had to constantly re-read sentences and paragraphs to grasp what they were saying although the more I read it, the easier it became.

The book and story itself is very interesting and as I mentioned before, the cover is so intriguing that I really wanted to read the book and it did not disappoint in that regard. It is quite gripping from the cover itself before you even begin to actually read it.

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I loved that the book deals with important issues and that it was not all fluff. I also really like that it is current and very relatable to a Young Adults because of its references to the internet and YouTube etc. It also made reference to important issues that are very common in today’s time, for example cyber bullying and xenophobia. I like that. I think its important for YA books to have more than just fluffiness in them.

I found that the book as a whole was completely original and not at all cliché. It gave a very unique and completely different look at high school life which I enjoyed. The one thing about it that I did find cliché was Sef’s character. A lot of the time, to me, he seemed very cliché in the sense that he was portrayed as an overly confident teenager who is hiding deep inner pain and animosity which causes him to be mean and distant but its all okay because he’s actually soft, sweet and riddled with pain inside. I feel like that is something I have read so many times before and I wish that he was portrayed differently because the entire book is fresh and original.

It is a really fun and easy to read book, it is quite charming as well but at the same time it’s very serious and real. It is also very sweet and it made my heart race a couple of times.

In the beginning it was difficult to read and I did not consider it a page-turner but as I read on it became very addictive. I really could not put it down in the end, my eyes were glued to the page!

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One of the main characters comes from an Indian background which I found notable because it’s not something we see very often in YA books and I enjoyed the diversity. The book made very subtle references to race which I liked because it was not obvious and overdone but well incorporated. It was basically just written excellently.

The plot is beautiful, the pace is great, its original and it made me think SO much.

It is one of those books where the ending just leaves you totally stunned and just sitting there staring at the wall thinking WOW! And those are the kind of books that always have an impact on me which is mainly why I loved the book. There are things about it that bugged me but in the end it was beautiful and I would still recommend it 100% because past all of those things it is an incredible book.

When I first began reading this book it didn’t seem good. It was a little bit immature, I didn’t like the main character and I found the whole ‘dare’ concept a little bit silly to be honest. I couldn’t seem to get into the book, it just felt not right somehow however, by the time I got to the end I had a long list of amazing things to be said about it and my perspective changed completely. So even though it has its flaws, I enjoyed it very much in spite of them all.

I would recommend you pick it up and give it a read. I would love to know what you think if you do,  please leave me a comment below or come on over and chat to me on instagram @thebookishnerd

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xx

tbn

P.S Many thanks to PanMacmillan South Africa for the review copy. It’s always an honour!

 

Windfall by Jennifer. E. Smith

*This book was sent to me by PanMacmillan South Africa in exchange for an honest review*

Synopsis: 

“Alice has been in love with her best friend, Teddy, for the last three years. On his eighteenth birthday she buys him a lottery ticket, and to their astonishment he wins the jackpot. The two of them are suddenly thrown together with the world at their feet. And when Teddy finally decides how to spend his money, who better to go on that adventure with him than Alice?

But money can’t buy love, and Alice and Teddy are about to find out more about themselves and each other than they ever could have imagined.”

My thoughts:

The good things about this book are plentiful but there definitely were some things about it I didn’t like. That is why I gave it a 3half/5 stars.

Before I even talk about the book, I have to mention the cover. It is absolutely stunning and I would want to read it based on the cover alone.

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The first half of the book was incredible. A real page-turner, original, funny, interesting and well written. It got my heart racing a couple of times (all. of. the. feels.) which every contemporary should do (in my opinion).

The characters were lovely and very well-developed through the book. I found that they had real depth and interesting as well as very intriguing pasts.

The book was written very nicely and everything was beautifully described. I found myself marvelling at the imagery on every page. Really just wonderful pictures were created in my mind.

I found the second part of the book, more specifically towards the end a little bit less enjoyable and interesting and a lot more cliché. For me, the pace was too slow and I really just wanted to get to the end.

It was all sunshine and rainbows and very predictable. I did not like how everything Teddy thought about in the end, was this huge, brilliant, generous idea. It was a tad bit overdone which, to me, made it unbelievable.

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It did deal a lot with loss and I loved that because it really taught me about grief and pain and truly helped me to understand more about that. It also deals with the concept of money and how money is not the most important thing which I really liked. When YA books are deeper, more real and deal with things that make them more than just fluffy they are, in my opinion, automatically more enjoyable

Overall despite the few things I did not quite enjoy about the book I would still recommend. I thought it was good enough to read to the very last page. The pros outweigh the cons and the things I did not quite take to, are things that other people may not notice at all. It is the kind of book that causes a feeling of warmth and happiness inside.

xx

tbn

P.S Shout out to PanMacmillan South Africa for sending me a review copy of this book. It is always an honour!

 

How to: Bake a Harry Potter birthday cake!

I’m not sure it’s possible to outgrow Harry Potter and so for my elder sister’s birthday a few days ago, I baked her a Harry Potter birthday catke. More specifically, I recreated the cake Hagrid gave Harry on his eleventh birthday.

I am somewhat of an amateur baker and I thought it would be cool to do a blog post with the recipe and instructions on how to decorate it, especially because it was very easy to make.

I took a basic vanilla sponge cake recipe and I added a little bit of cocoa to make it chocalat-ey. I used whipped cream instead of icing because it’s lighter and not as rich-which is preferred in my house. So, let’s get started!

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Bake the cakes & make the topping!

Ingredients 

  • 1 1/4 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3tsp of baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1tsp of vanilla essence
  • 1/2 a cup of cooking oil
  • 1/2 a cup of water
  • eggs
  • 1 1/2 tbsp of cocoa powder

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Line two 22cm cake tins with parchment paper.
  3. Separate the eggs and beat the whites until they form stiff peaks. Then set aside.
  4. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, oil, water and vanilla essence into a large mixing bowl. Beat at a medium speed for about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the egg yolks to the mixture and beat until it is well incorporated. Be careful not to overmix.
  6. Add the egg whites to the mixture and fold them in. Be gentle but thorough.
  7. Stir in the cocoa powder.
  8. Divide the batter equally between the two tins, knock them gently on a hard surface  to release air bubbles and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes.
  9. Once the cakes are removed from the oven allow them to cool for at least 30 minutes. 

In the meantime, prepare the topping!

Ingredients 

  • large tub of whipped cream
  • pink/peach food colouring
  • green food coloring

Method 

  1. Divide the cream between two bowls, in the ratio 3:1
  2. Add pink/peach food coloring to the larger portion and green food coloring to the smaller portion. Mix until the desired colour is achieved.IMG_8194

Decorate the cakes!

  1. Ensure that the cakes have cooled completely. Then sandwich them together using a thin layer of cream.
  2. Next, cover the entire cake with the pink cream. Remember that this is Hagrid’s cake, he probably sat on it at some point, so… we’re not going for perfect. It is supposed to be a little rough around the edges.
  3. Using either a toothpick or a skewer draw a jagged line down the centre of the cake(use the pictures as a guide). Be light at first and once you’re sure it’s how you want it to look, dig a little deeper so that the cake shows through.
  4. Use the toothpick/skewer again, this time to lightly outline the words (HAPPEE BIRTHDAE [NAME OF PERSON]) 
  5. Attach a small round tipped nozzle to the end of a piping bag and fill it with the green cream, pipe over the letters you traced out and again, this is Hagrid, so be a little messy, it will look more authentic if it’s a little jagged! 

And that’s it! It seems really long but I promise you it’s the easiest thing to make and it tastes amazing. Also, it’s a great photo prop if you’re a bookstagrammer!

I would love to see how it turns out if you re-create it so please tag me in your pictures on instagram- @thebookishnerd

xx                                                                         tbn