Sunday, April 21, 2013

Adventures in Baking - November Cakes from The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

I love to bake. And cook. And just make yummy things in general. So I was totally stoked to see that Maggie had created a recipe for November cakes. They just sounded too good to pass up and I know if I saw them in a bakery around the 'burg, I'd have to buy one.

Oh my gosh these are so delicious. You can find the recipe for November Cakes (from The Scorpio Races) on Maggie's website HERE. It took a long time to make, but they are absolutely fantastic. And because of my propensity to buy things that the grocery store that I may need at some point, just not now... I had everything I needed except for the heavy whipping cream. Which I almost forgot to use.

These were so scrumptious I convinced my sister to come over with her girls just to have some with us.

It was organized chaos.

I don't own a rolling pin, so a drinking glass it was. Thumbs up from my helper.

In the oven to rise again they go.

Not sure why I took two pictures, but here ya go.

Heck, they looked great even before they baked!

I was totally getting excited at this point.

Because I mean seriously... look how they're turning out.

Finished product... b-e-a-utiful.

They got the thumbs up from my 5 year old helper.

These 5 are all that's left. So yummy!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Stacking the Shelves #15

Thanks to Tynga and co. over at Team Tynga's Reviews for hosting Stacking the Shelves every week!!

My birthday was almost 3 weeks ago (oh geez... I'm so old) and my wonderful fiance and his family got me a gift card to Books -a- Million as one of my gifts! Yay! So of course... I went on a book buying bender. Got some good ones to share with you this week! And a couple that I never posted from a previous week.



Trouble in Texas by Katie Lane (book 4 in the Deep in the Heart of Texas series)
Epic by Conor Kostick
The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (book 1 in the Iron Fey series)
The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa (book 2 in the Iron Fey series)
Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James (a Pride & Prejudice sequel)
The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher
Luminous by Dawn Metcalf

Definitely not a lot of books compared to some... but it was quite a haul for me!! Super excited to read these. I'm already reading the P.D. James novel. Can't wait to see what you all got this week!

(P.S. if any of you are wondering about the blue bracelet I'm wearing... it's from and I got it by donating to support the volunteers on the site!)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Author Guest Post - Lana Long

Why I Love Jane Austen

A Guest Post by Lana Long


I can sum it up in one word: escapism.  Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy reading books that deal with hard-hitting issues—issues that are real and difficult—but for the most part watching one nightly newscast can provide enough reality to last a few weeks. When it’s late at night, the kids are sleeping, the dog is sleeping, the husband is sleeping, everything is real quiet and the day’s activities are slipping into memory, I want to spend my last waking minutes in a world that’s interesting, satisfying, and nice.

That is why I love Jane Austen.

The social propriety of Austen’s works fascinates me. All of Austen’s novels struggle with the hierarchy of society.  In Pride and Prejudice, Darcy fights his feelings for Elizabeth because she’s not quite up to his social standing. In Persuasion, Anne pines for her lost love because she allowed her family to convince her that Wentworth isn’t good enough. In Sense and Sensibility, Willoughby leaves Marianne when the risk of lost fortune becomes all too real. Willoughby is not a hero, and in the end Marianne comes to see that love doesn’t need to burn bright and hot to be real. Society tries to deflate these characters, tries to ruin their chances at happiness, but they fight through it and come out stronger, better off, and at peace. All except Willoughby, but that lout deserves what he gets.

That is why I love Jane Austen.

The physical world of Austen’s novels is like a mythical place to me after growing up in the 20th century western United States. In Austen’s world, people live in houses the size of apartment buildings. They travel by coach, horseback, or they walk. If they’re wealthy enough, they summer in the country, winter in London, and vacation or convalesce in Bath. Servants take care of the family (don’t insinuate to Mrs. Bennett that she can’t afford a cook), drive them from place to place, work the land, and take care of the estate. Quaint villages and abbeys sustain small communities. Without wealth, people become isolated in their communities due to the time and cost to travel from one place to another. The characters in Austen’s novels—affluent or not—find ways to traverse this world and allow the reader to glimpse the countryside, the city and everything in between at the dawn of the nineteenth century in England.

That is why I love Jane Austen.

In Austen’s novels, the family structure and the roles of men and women are so foreign but at the same time so simple. What would it be like to spend all day sewing, playing the piano, reading, drawing, or walking in the garden? At the same time the women find themselves helpless because they aren’t allowed to learn anything besides these activities. In Sense and Sensibility, Elinor is powerless to find a way to care for her sisters and mother after her half-brother inherits her father’s estate and doesn’t care for his sisters as promised. Emma‘s friends, the Bates, live off kindness and a small living, because Miss Bates never married and her father is deceased. It’s not necessarily easier for the men. If you’re not the oldest son your choices are limited to clergy, military or another profession deemed acceptable by the gentry.  Still, these people fight against the rules of gender and birth order. They are funny, kind, caring... frustrating and irritating, but they are always likeable and I cheer their success and mourn their losses, even Emma. And most of all, there’s a happy ending; our heroines and their friends find love and peace, and their foes find discomfort and an unfulfilling future.

That is why I love Jane Austen.

So why did I choose Mansfield Park for an adaptation out of all the Austen works? First, it’s a great story. The story is of Fanny Price, a young girl, coming of age away from her immediate family, who is too poor to rear all of their offspring. Fanny is required to uphold expectations set upon her by her caregivers, her wealthy aunt and uncle, but she is never to be rewarded for living up to those expectations because her true parentage is lowly. She’s in love with a boy, her best friend, who’s falling in love with someone else and by all of society’s rules unattainable even if he was available. The story felt ripe for a modern Young Adult novel. 

That is why I love Jane Austen.

Second, well, I hadn’t seen Mansfield Park retold. It would take your hands, my hands and twenty of our closest friends to count the number of times Pride and Prejudice has been adapted. I’m not complaining; I love it. Other Austen works need the opportunity to be discovered through modern retellings as well. As a teenager I read Emma because of the movie Clueless.  Jane Austen’s been gone for almost 200 years and we still read her novels and draw inspiration from them because they are truly great stories.
And that is why I love Jane Austen.


Finding Favor is priced at just 99 cents as part of its special launch week sale. Pick up your copy on either Amazon US or Amazon UK now, and don't forget to stop by and participate in the special release week contests.

Our big launch week prize basket includes:   Journal with a cover inspired by Jane Austen's Mansfield Park (as is this novel), note cards with an orchid design (Favor's favorite flower), a hard cover edition of To Kill a Mockingbird (Ethan's favorite book), and a cool pen (who doesn't love cool pens?). CLICK HERE NOW TO ENTER!


About Lana Long


As a devoted fan of young adult novels herself, Lana Long is thrilled to be gracing the YA world with her first novel, Finding Favor. Many years of daydreaming and several writing classes and workshops have contributed to the development of Finding Favor as well as to her inevitable future books. Through her experiences at Lighthouse Writers in Denver, the Big Sur Writing Workshop in California, and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference, she has learned an amazing amount about writing novels.

Although writing serves as a relaxing process, Lana is also grounded by her family, by her work as a church treasurer, and by volunteering at her kids’ elementary school.
She hopes that her books provide readers with the same entertainment she herself finds in YA novels. If you enjoy a good coming-of-age story featuring enthralling characters, check out Finding Favor and read more of Lana’s thoughts at

Review & Giveaway - Finding Favor by Lana Long

What’s more important: friendship or freedom?

In the eight years since seventeen-year-old Favor Miller’s father died, she’s had to endure her reluctant, self-righteous guardians the Browns. Every day for eight years, they've reminded her that she doesn't fit in, that she’s not one of them. Every day for eight years, she’s eagerly awaited the day when she’ll finally be free to live her life her way.

On the eve of high school graduation, Mr. Brown ambushes Favor with the offer of college funding and a to-die-for summer internship–with the one stipulation that she must discontinue her friendship with his son, Ethan.

Accustomed as she is to sharing everything with her best friend, this is one secret Favor must keep in order to protect Ethan. The distraction of his new girlfriend, her growing friendship with his older brother, and her need to understand her family history, add in further complications.

As Favor debates signing the contract, she must decide if she’s willing to give up her best friend in order to pursue her dreams. Will she have to stay in the place she’s so desperately wanted to escape in order to make the right decision and get what she really needs?
I'm a huge Jane Austen fan. Which played a part in deciding to read Finding Favor by Lana Long. Mansfield Park by Austen is part of what inspired this novel.

Favor's father died when she was young. His old college roommate gave Favor a home and has agreed to help further her education and make her "dreams" come true... as long as she does one thing. She has to sign a contract by her 18th birthday promising that she'll stay away from his son, her only friend in the world it seems, Ethan.

The Browns are well off and kind of hoity-toity. Their saving graces are their sons, Ethan and Tom. Ethan has been Favor's best friend since the moment she entered the home and Tom becomes her new ally when it seems Ethan has found something better to occupy his time with. The daughter, Madison, however, is stuck up and as snobby as they come. She doesn't hesitate to put Favor in her place and remind her just exactly where she came from and that she is in no way shape or form an actual part of the family.

First off.... I want to say I was a bit put off by the fact that there seemed to be no typesetting in the copy I received. The font was incredibly large and the letters actually ran off the bottom of the page and on to the next. I also found a typo in the first few pages of the story which didn't get my hopes up about the rest of the novel.

I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed the book.

I was sad for Favor. She was basically reminded on a regular basis that she was an orphan but from the time she was little she had Ethan. It was her and Ethan against the world. I had a friend like that when I was young. It was me and him. We were joined at the hip. Until we weren't. We grew up and grew apart like Favor and Ethan seem to be doing in this story. And it breaks her heart because aside from the gardener and some of the staff that work for the Browns, she literally has no one. No one to take care of her or that she can talk to. She lives a very lonely existance and it was just so sad. I could relate to her and being able to do that really drew me in to the story.

The Browns irritated me from the word "Go". Mr. Brown seemed cruel and heartless and completely detached from any semblence of humanity and I just assumed Mrs. Brown was him but female. I like it when I find out I'm not always 100% correct. It makes me feel better. Madison was a spoiled little rich girl and I've known too many of those in my life to really have any sympathy for her. At all. Period. She felt like she was entitled to everything in the world and everyone owed her something. Total snob. I stayed away from people like that in school.

Tom was the big surprise for me. Based on the early description of him I assumed (again) that he was just a spoiled (but good natured) rich boy who had everything handed to him. And again, I was pleasantly surprised. He turned out to be quite the onion with layer upon layer and it was great every time a new side of him was revealed.

This was a good story to read overall. Barring the frustrations right at the beginning, I liked it. A lot. In a small.... teeny tiny sort of way, it reminded me of the relationship between Bella and Jacob and Bella and Edward in Twilight. Tom being Jacob and Ethan being Edward. Please don't let that stop you from reading it, that's just what I thought of when I pictured the relationships between the main characters. My brain goes funny places when I read.

I would recommend this probably to anyone 16 or over. It was a fast read and had a good plot that moved along nicely. The characters were well rounded and I enjoyed "getting to know them". I'm pretty sure that if you open this one up you will too.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, April 12, 2013

Review - The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.
I don't know why The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater sat on my bookshelf so long before I picked it up to read it. Maybe it was the suspense of what was hiding between the covers that kept me away from it so long. It could also quite possibly be the fact that when it comes to choosing what to read I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed.

That being said... I loved it. Love love loved it. It was a simple story line with lots of interesting story threads hanging off of it. The story starts out with Sean Kendrick's point of view but reading more it seems that Puck may be the MAIN main character, even though the VPs alternate between the two. And it was funny... reading her, I always pictured her younger than she was. And reading Sean I pictured him so much older.

Puck and her brothers are orphaned when their parents are killed by the water horses and are struggling to hold their heads above water on their own. Sean Kendrick, also orphaned when his father is taken down by a water horse, works for the biggest horse people in Thisby. He is the go to guy when it comes to water horses, or just horses in general. He has a way with them... a magical way that draws Puck to him. But she's wild, and soon he's drawn to her as well.

I love the relationship between Puck and her horse, Dove. She knows her inside and out and Dove knows Puck just the same. Sean and Corr are much the same, but on a completely different level. And I love the fact that Puck, being the first female ever to ride in the races, doesn't try to make it an issue of gender. She just wants to be left alone to do the only thing she can think of to save her house.

Honestly, I really don't know what to say about this book. Other than I loved it. And I think I've said that enough. It was kind of a leisurely read. I didn't speed through it, although I probably could have. But it definitely held my attention every time I opened it up. The ending was amazing and heartbreaking all at the same time and I wasn't sure which to feel. I'm kind of sad that it was a stand alone novel. I'd love to find out what happens to Puck's brother, Gabe. And what happens between Puck and Sean.

There was no clear "relationship" defined between Puck and Sean. I liked that. There was no "Oh my gosh I love him even though I just met him!" that happens in so many other stories (not that that's always a bad thing... sometimes it's done really well). They both had so many other things on their mind that their feelings completely snuck up on them before they knew what was happening. And I thought that was absolutely perfect.

I absolutely recommend this book to everyone. The legend and lore behind the water horses is so interesting to learn about and the story was heartwarming and just wonderful to read. Loved it. Seriously. Why haven't you read it yet?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Book Blitz - Gargoyle by Lorraine Beaumont

Gargoyle by Lorraine Beaumont (cover by PhatPuppy Art)

Briar Cliff Township - New England's best kept secret...turns out is has a few secrets of its own.

For much of the year Briar Cliff is exactly the same as any other small town snugly nestled into the forests of the New England coast. But once a year when the winds change... old stirrings arise from long kept secrets, forgotten misdeeds and a thirst for vengeance.
And so the Gathering begins...Something Wicked this way comes...

About the Author:
I am the author of the Ravenhurst Series -a time-travel paranormal romance, written with an ensemble cast of characters -Forgotten Time, Shadows of Yesterday, Time to Remember are all available now and the fourth installment Dreams of Tomorrow will be coming this year 2013. I also write YA/contemporary urban fantasy with a kick-The Gathering Series about Gargoyles. Elyograg, Gargoyle and The Gathering Series Vol. 1 are now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Author Links:
Click HERE to buy on Amazon

Monday, April 1, 2013

Cover Reveal - The Color Keepers by Catriona Crehan

The Color Keepers by Catriona Crehan
Expanded/Revised Release: May 1, 2013
(Cover by PhatPuppy Art)
Hoping to have a good change and good ending to go with it, Emily, a 16- year-old girl from Ohio, has moved to sunny California. Moving to a new town can be scary, especially a new school. So when Sam, the most popular kid there, looks her way, she can’t believe this is happening to her. Everything seems to be working out fine. That is, until her mother buys an enchanted mirror by mistake. Suddenly, Emily finds herself in a whole new world, full of talking animals, magic and more change than she was hoping for. With the help of her new crush, Sam, and her annoyingly goofy 12-year-old brother James, Emily sets out to save their world and ours.
Find it on Goodreads HERE.

Author Links:


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