Monday, December 30, 2013

Announcement: Co-Blogger Search

Photo Credit: leontine via Compfight cc

Hi guys! As some of you might know I started blogging earlier this year and absolutely fell in love with it. From discovering an amazing variety of wonderful blogs out there, to connecting with readers, authors, and of course other bloggers, not to mention the fabulous books I got to read this year, I feel I’ve been pretty fortunate and have to thank all of you for your support and encouragement along the way. My sincere wish is to continue sharing my love for books (and hopefully cooking!) with you. However, I feel that the blog and I can really benefit from finding or joining together with some new partner(s) in crime. So, this is a call to all: if you or anyone you know is looking for any type of co-blogging opportunities I would be happy to hear about it!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Recipe: Olivier Salad

I hope there is another post that I will have a chance to share with you before the year ends, but here’s one I’ve been planning for awhile – a traditional Russian dish that always reminds me of the holidays. And while we are talking holidays let me wish you lots of love, laughter, happiness, and many great reads in the coming year!

Happy New Year!


I can’t believe it, but 2014 is just around the corner and as we get ready to celebrate the New Year it is time to whip up some classics. And the Russian holiday table will not be complete without its most popular dish - the Olivier Salad (or Stolichny Salad as it is also known). I grew up eating the Olivier Salad and can’t imagine it any other way, but there are as many variations of this dish as there are cooks. So here’s my take on the Russian classic, as promised Lori!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Hi guys! I’ve been crazy busy these past few weeks: lots of work, last minute errands, and everything else in between. I’m tired just thinking about it, still the holidays are here and I’m ready to take a well deserved break. The presents are wrapped, the house is decorated and delicious treats are cooking in the kitchen. And speaking of treats, if you need a last minute holiday treat idea then try these Eggnog Doughnut Muffins from The Kitchn. They were absolutely delicious when I made them the other night, and the divine aroma when they came out of the oven… Well, you get the idea, so try them!

Merry Christmas!

Victoria, xoxo

Monday, December 23, 2013

Book Review: Chasing the Star Garden

Chasing the Star Garden (The Airship Racing Chronicles #1)
Melanie Karsak

Release Date: December 4, 2013

Book Description:
An opium-addicted beauty.
An infamous poet living in self-imposed exile.
An ancient treasure about to fall into the wrong hands.

Melanie Karsak's Chasing the Star Garden takes readers on a thrilling adventure from the gritty opium dens of gaslamp London to the gem-colored waters of the ancient world. Lily Stargazer, a loveable but reckless airship racer with a famous lover and shattered past, reluctantly plunges into a centuries-old mystery in a romantic adventure best described as Dan Brown meets Mary Shelley.

It all begins on one of the worst days of Lily’s life. She just lost the London leg of the 1823 Airship Grand Prix. To top it off, a harlequin fleeing from constables shoved a kaleidoscope down her pants, told her to fly to Venice, then threw himself from her airship tower. What’s a girl to do? For Lily, the answer is easy: drink absinthe and smoke opium.

Lily’s lover, Lord Byron, encourages her to make the trip to Venice. Lily soon finds herself at the heart of an ancient mystery which has her running from her past and chasing true love and the stars along the way.

Amazon US | Goodreads

I must apologize it took me so long to write my review because Chasing the Star Garden is an absolutely wonderful, steampunk adventure novel that I can’t wait to share with you! Part romance, part mystery, with a fabulous cast of characters and beautiful world-building, a sprinkle of history and mythology – it is a charming and a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Book Review: City of Lost Dreams

City of Lost Dreams (City of Dark Magic #2)
Magnus Flyte

Release Date: November 26, 2013

Magnus Flyte

Book Description:
The exhilarating, genre-bending sequel to the sensational New York Times bestseller City of Dark Magic

In this action-packed sequel to City of Dark Magic, we find musicologist Sarah Weston in Vienna in search of a cure for her friend Pollina, who is now gravely ill and who may not have much time left. Meanwhile, Nicolas Pertusato, in London in search of an ancient alchemical cure for the girl, discovers an old enemy is one step ahead of him. In Prague, Prince Max tries to unravel the strange reappearance of a long dead saint while being pursued by a seductive red-headed historian with dark motives of her own.

In the city of Beethoven, Mozart, and Freud, Sarah becomes the target in a deadly web of intrigue that involves a scientist on the run, stolen art, seductive pastries, a few surprises from long-dead alchemists, a distractingly attractive horseman who’s more than a little bloodthirsty, and a trail of secrets and lies. But nothing will be more dangerous than the brilliant and vindictive villain who seeks to bend time itself. Sarah must travel deep into an ancient mystery to save the people she loves.

Amazon US | Goodreads

“I'm sorry to bother you but it's an emergency," she told Alessandro. "I need a drug test.” City of Lost Dreams (p. 86).

What a trip this novel is! I’m pleasantly surprised and happy I gave Magnus Flyte another chance as City of Lost Dreams is a much improved, fast-paced and exciting novel. The returning cast of characters gain needed dimension as they continue on in their quest to find the Golden Fleece and in increasingly desperate attempt try save life of the young, blind, music prodigy – Pollina, whose health has deteriorated drastically since last time we saw her. What lies ahead is a web of elements that somehow balance together to create this unconventional, drug-infused, time-traveling journey through time and history, with a sprinkle of magic, questions of immortality, drive, passion and more. So buckle up and prepare for an outside the box tour of Prague and Vienna with Sarah Weston and friends.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Book Review: A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1)
Deborah Harkness

Release Date: February 8, 2011

Deborah Harkness

Book Description:
A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.

Amazon US | Goodreads

Absolutely spellbinding! Deborah Harkness crafts a magical tale about a reluctant witch, a fifteen hundred year old vampire with a taste for wine, and a long lost alchemical manuscript that is about to turn their world upside down. Alchemy, history, and magic collide in this complex and beautifully executed paranormal romance. And oh the romance! A whirlwind courtship, a forbidden alliance, and Matthew Clairmont – you’ll want to discover it all for yourself. A Discovery of Witches is a true delight.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Book Review: Mistress of the Solstice

Mistress of the Solstice
Anna Kashina

Release Date: September 5, 2013

Anna Kashina

Book Description:

As the head priestess of the ancient Solstice cult, Marya must sacrifice a virgin every year. She copes with this gruesome duty by assuming a mask of cold detachment, as her father—the evil tzar Kashchey—devours the maidens' souls to maintain his youth and power. It is his power alone that keeps Marya’s kingdom safe from all enemies—or so she was raised to believe.

When Ivan arrives on a quest to stop the virgin sacrifices, Marya throws all her magic against him. To maintain her life—and that of her father—she must destroy Ivan before he completes his quest. But can she find it in her heart to do so?

Baba Yaga, Leshy, Vodyanoi, and the ancient animal deities come alive in this beautifully crafted romantic story that will take you into the authentic world of Russian fairy tales—with a dark, sensual twist.

Amazon US | Goodreads

Digital review copy provided by Dragonwell Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for fair and honest review.

What a mess! I think I picked this book up and kept reading against my better judgment, sincerely hoping it will get better. The premise sounded intriguing enough to get me curious but the execution left a lot to be desired. In addition, I cringed at the sexualization of the traditional Russian folklore characters; there was something fundamentally wrong with this picture. I’m not a prude but I grew up reading and watching these characters come to life and they are firmly cemented within my childhood and this is definitely not the way I’d like to perceive them. Nonetheless, stubborn as I am I kept reading, hoping for redemption that never came.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Author Spotlight & Giveaway: Krystle Lewallen

It’s Wednesday and I have a little teaser for you! Check out an excerpt from a new novel Fractured Heart and scroll down for an amazing giveaway from author, Krystle Lewallen.

Happy reading!

Fractured Heart (The Redemption Series #1)
Krystle Lewallen

Release Date: November 29, 2013

Krystle Lewallen

Book Description:
It is because we love them so much that we lay our heart in their hands. So when they do not treat it delicately, instead choosing to squeeze the life out of it, it becomes fractured. A fractured heart, almost impossible to heal the pain etched into that tiny little organ.

But there is mercy...

My name is Katy. I have been ripped apart and torn to shreds by past and present circumstances. Everything that I am has been tested, and faith is slowly fading away. I try to forget the past and move on. I try not to let those events define my life. But the past, she just walked through the door, and she is about to test every limit that I can handle.

My life...just got real.

Amazon US | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble

"This is the best place to come and practice my meditating and breathing techniques. I do this every Sunday after church. It helps reduce stress." Walking over to him I listen intently. "It's all about connecting your mind," he says as he places one long finger on my forehead, "with your body." He places another finger just below my neck. As if on cue I tense from the touch but my stomach also flutters with excitement. I'm so conflicted. He doesn't linger and pulls away quickly. "It's fairly simple and slow, so you should be able to catch on just by watching a few times." He places his hands on his hips. "Ready?"

Cover Reveal: Forged by Desire

Squee! We have a cover for the next novel in the London Steampunk series by Bec McMaster, and it’s seductive as always. Although I must say, I’m still quite partial to the recent My Lady Quicksilver, which was absolutely fabulous (read my review here). Now, all there is to do is wait for a really long time cause the book doesn’t come out until September next year.

So what do you guys think? Do you love it?

Forged by Desire (London Steampunk #4)
Bec McMaster

Release Date: September 2, 2014

Bec McMaster

Book Description:
Captain Garret Reed of the Nighthawk guard has a deadly mission: capture a steel-jawed monster preying on women. He hates to put his partner, Perry, in jeopardy, but she’s the best bait he has. Little does he realize, he’s about to be caught in his own trap.

Perry has been half in love with Garrett for years, but this is not exactly the best time to start a relationship—especially when their investigation leads them directly into the clutches of the madman she thought she’d escaped...

Monday, December 9, 2013

Book Review: Campbell

C.S. Starr

Release Date: November 8, 2013

C.S. Starr

Book Description:
It’s been ten years since a virus wiped out the adult population. Across the world, opportunistic kids worked to reestablish order through the creation of uneasy, fractured territories.

A decade later, the rules are changing.

Desperate to stop his western territory from coming apart at the seams, Connor Wilde sends his oldest confidante to negotiate with the leader of Campbell, a swelling northern empire.

Tal Bauman isn’t expecting her to be so impossible.

Or intriguing. Or beautiful.

He’s also not expecting their negotiations to leave them both fighting for survival in a part of the world neither are familiar with.

Spanning a dystopian North American landscape, Campbell is the story of two unlikely companions who find themselves reevaluating their loyalties, beliefs, and futures.

Amazon US | Goodreads

Digital review copy provided by author in exchange for fair and honest review.

Campbell is one of those books you don’t expect. I can’t say I loved it, yet I was glued to it. Gripping, unexpected and unapologetic it takes you on a complex and often harsh journey of learning and discovery that will leave you craving for more. It tells the story of the post-apocalyptic world where adult population has been wiped out by a virus ten years before. Told from the points of view of Lucy Campbell and Tal Bauman, with glimpses of past and present we slowly begin to uncover the new order of life and how it came to be...

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Book Review: Curtsies & Conspiracies

Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School #2)
Gail Carriger

Release Date: November 5, 2013

Gail Carriger

Book Description:
Does one need four fully grown foxgloves for decorating a dinner table for six guests? Or is it six foxgloves to kill four fully grown guests?

Sophronia's first year at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has certainly been rousing! For one thing, finishing school is training her to be a spy (won't Mumsy be surprised?). Furthermore, Sophronia got mixed up in an intrigue over a stolen device and had a cheese pie thrown at her in a most horrid display of poor manners.

Now, as she sneaks around the dirigible school, eavesdropping on the teachers' quarters and making clandestine climbs to the ship's boiler room, she learns that there may be more to a school trip to London than is apparent at first. A conspiracy is afoot--one with dire implications for both supernaturals and humans. Sophronia must rely on her training to discover who is behind the dangerous plot-and survive the London Season with a full dance card.

In this sequel to bestselling author Gail Carriger's YA debut Etiquette & Espionage, class is back in session with more petticoats and poison, tea trays and treason. Gail's distinctive voice, signature humor, and lush steampunk setting are sure to be the height of fashion this season.

Amazon US | Goodreads

The Finishing School series is heating up my must read list with a delightful follow-up novel! Curtsies & Conspiracies is full of adventures, secrets, mischievous characters, and lessons in etiquette, espionage and most importantly – friendship. So, if you haven’t started on this series yet – you are definitely missing out!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Book Review: Allegiant

Allegiant (Divergent #3)
Veronica Roth

Release Date: October 22, 2013

Veronica Roth

Book Description:
The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

Amazon US | Goodreads

Mild spoilers ahead

It’s been over a month since release of Allegiant and I’m still trying to write a satisfactory review, it just seems like an impossible task. In fact my original draft review is ashamedly sitting waiting for me to look at it. It wasn’t good, or honest, or raw, it was more of a polite reaction to the end of what could’ve been one of the best YA dystopian trilogies. At this point, I think I really need to learn my lesson and not expect these trilogies to end well, they all simply underwhelm and disappoint [yes, I’m looking at you Matched and Delirium]. But don’t get me wrong, for all its faults I still believe Divergent series is one of the better ones out there and definitely worth reading.

“I am not all right. I was beginning to feel that I had finally found a place to stay, a place that was not so unstable or corrupt or controlling that I could actually belong there. You would think that I would have learned by now— such a place does not exist.” Allegiant (p. 276).

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Recipe: Chicken (or Turkey) Pot Pie

Hi guys! Are you in a cooking mode today? I know I am. I’ve been prepping, and cooking, and shopping, and last night I almost had a panic attack thinking I forgot to buy half of the ingredients even though my fridge is brimming with all sorts of good foods. But, crisis averted, I think our table is going to be plentiful and I wish yours is as well. So, whatever your plans are today I wish you a Happy Holiday!

But, looking just a little bit ahead, let’s talk leftovers. I’m sure everyone has their own ideas about Thanksgiving leftovers, but how does a pot pie sound to you? I, for one, love a pot pie – such a comfort food! But I was always afraid to make one at home, thinking it was complicated. Well, it wasn’t, and it was absolutely delicious, whether with chicken or turkey, or even just the veggies it’s a great dish for the colder weather. So give it a try, I’m sure you too will enjoy it.

Pot Pie
Servings 4

Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hi guys! Hope everyone had a nice weekend; I certainly did, although once again, it went by terribly quick. I had lots of things planed, from cleaning the house for the main event on Thursday, to finalizing the menu and devising a plan, shopping, cooking, reading, writing [which didn’t really happen,] and I managed to squeeze in an outing to the movies to watch Thor: The Dark World [it was fun & and Loki was such a lovable villain]

Friday, November 22, 2013

Author Spotlight: Lara Nance

As you know I’m quite fond of steampunk literature and so I’m pleased to welcome Lara Nance to the blog today, author of the steampunk adventure novel, Revenge of the Mad Scientist. And to further pique your interest check out an excerpt from the book, then don’t forget to add it to your to-read list.

Happy reading!

Revenge of the Mad Scientist (Airship Adventure Chronicles #1)
Lara Nance

Release Date: August 13, 2012

Lara Nance

Book Description:
When Lady Arabella Trunkett’s father, the High Lord Minister of Urbannia is kidnapped, all clues point to the mysterious country of Gandiss and the world is thrown into political upheaval.

Arabella is convinced the more sinister nation of Carabarras is to blame., urged on by a mad scientist seeking revenge. So, she sets out on a perilous airship journey across a variety of exotic locales to save him, and halt the potential world war.

But airship pirates, secret assassins and slave traders aren’t her only trials. The fickle hand of fate has made the captain of the only airship available for charter, the man that left her at the altar. For eight years she's wished him dead. Now he's her only hope.

Amazon US | Goodreads

Belle couldn’t believe her eyes. As they rounded the peak, they entered a sort of air valley among a circle of towering mountains. In its midst, two airships fired at each other through puffs of clouds with their deck cannons, and both flew pirate flags. It was the cannon shots they heard, not thunder.

The two ships circled each other creating a swirl of white mist and clouds in their wake. Gambit arrived on the scene above them, unnoticed for the moment. Belle pulled out her distance viewer and held it to her eyes. She adjusted a couple wheels and flipped down a pair of lenses.

“One is from Catika,” she said, noticing the small flag that flew beneath the black pirate pennant and the dark brown skins of the crew. She trained her viewer on the pilot station. To her surprise, the captain was a woman, her black skin shining and long black braids flipping around her as she shouted orders to her crew. She held a bronze shooter in one hand and gripped the wheel with the other.

“Damn,” Rett said, his face grim. “Where’s the other from?”

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Book Review: Bloodlines

Bloodlines (Demons of Oblivion #1)
Skyla Dawn Cameron

Release Date: April 20, 2011

Skyla Dawn Cameron

Book Description:
After three hundred years of unlife, vampire Zara Lain has seemingly done it all, and she's now making a living as a successful thief-turned-assassin. Her newest assignment seems simple enough--kill the aging leader of the O'Connor Coven and his only heir, and she'll have another ten million in the bank. But in the dangerous world of the supernatural, few things are ever "simple."When a massive assault decimates the continent's population of powerful witches and warlocks, and its orchestrator has vampires being hunted down and captured, Zara realizes the tables have turned and now she'll be playing the hero. Forced to join with a smart-mouthed fellow vampire, a demonologist who's also a fan of hers, a recently widowed--and frequently brooding--warlock, and her best friend's mom, Zara's grudgingly willing to do what she can to save the day. If only people would stop ruining all her outfits...

Amazon US | Goodreads

“My name’s Zara. I’m strong, I’m fast, and I totally kick ass. It’s great to be me...but that means right now it sucks to be you.” Bloodlines (Kindle Locations 151-152).

Can I just say, you’ll love Zara – the snarkalicious heroine of Bloodlines. She is a kick ass vampire extraordinaire, and maybe has a bit of a habit killing off her admirers and potential boyfriends, but the girl has her reasons. Despite all, Zara is fun, adventurous and awesome in all senses, she is definitely someone I would want to hang out with.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Book Review: Death of the Mad Hatter

Death of the Mad Hatter
Sarah J. Pepper

Release Date: November 29, 2013

Sarah J. Pepper

Book Description:
The Jack prophesied: If the king loses his head, then the Queen with a Bleeding Heart would rule the Red Court until Time ceased to move forward. When a second carried on for infinity, every creature in Wonderland would tip their Hat to the misfit girl with a Boy’s name (or was it a boy with a Girl’s name?) who’d end the Reign of Terror. However, it all hinged on the One-Eyed Hare being able to convince an uninspirable Heir that the impossible was indeed possible—like stopping time—and that Love was worth a Beheading.

Heads would Roll…
Hearts would Break…
In the end, would it matter who Reigned?

Amazon US | Goodreads

Digital review copy provided by author in exchange for fair and honest review.

Back in September I got an email from Sarah with an offer to review her new novel, Death of the Mad Hatter, which comes out this November. I couldn’t refuse; being a fan of Alice in Wonderland I had to check this one out. The description caught my eye at once, and the promise of dark, paranormal romance sealed the deal. I must say I approached it with a bit of skepticism but fell in love with the novel as soon as I started reading. The first few chapters turned into few more chapters and then I barely noticed how I’ve raced through the pages and found myself at the end. It is a really great take on the beloved classic with a twist, worthy of Tim Burton himself and it will leave you craving for more. I can almost see it come to life on the big screen and only wish that Mr. Burton waited to make an Alice retelling till he read Death of the Mad Hatter. But who knows, even impossible can be possible when we are talking about Wonderland

“Wonderland was an intoxicating, magical world where the most farfetched dreams could come true and the impossible was possible. Conversely, it was a realm where the most daunting nightmares could hurt us until the end of time.” Death of the Mad Hatter (Kindle Location 4670).

Giveaway: The Marquess of Cake - Winner

And the winner is… Meghan S.!

You won an eBook copy of The Marquess of Cake by Heather Hiestand!

Heather Hiestand


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Victoria, xoxo

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Mexican Vacation


Hi guys! As you probably know by now I'm back from my vacation and life is in full swing here. We arrived last Sunday night and were greeted with first snow the following morning, which thankfully melted right away. But I still dearly miss the sandy beach and spending afternoons sunbathing by the pool with a fruity drink and my Kindle in hand. Vacation was wonderful and relaxing and full of books... However, my grandiose plans to get some reviews done utterly failed – I blame it all on addicting books I’ve been reading which I didn’t want to put down. So, I’ve been playing catch up this week and am hoping for a productive weekend because I can’t wait to share with you all the wonderful books I’ve read while away. Also my library requests just came in so I have plenty to keep me busy for the near future. Lots of fabulous things to come – I promise.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Author Spotlight: Elizabeth McKenna

Happy Friday! And here’s a little treat to start your day, an excerpt from Venice in the Moonlight by Elizabeth McKenna.

Venice in the Moonlight
Elizabeth McKenna

Release Date: October 2, 2013

Elizabeth McKenna

Book Description:
Considered useless by his cold-hearted father, Nico Foscari, eldest son of one of the founding families in Venice, hides his pain behind gambling, drinking and womanizing.

After her husband’s untimely demise, Marietta Gatti returns to her hometown of Venice in hopes of starting a new life and finding the happiness that was missing in her forced marriage.

When Fate throws them together, friendship begins to grow into love until Marietta learns a Foscari family secret that may have cost her father his life. Now, she must choose between vengeance, forgiveness, and love.

Elizabeth McKenna’s latest novel takes you back to the days of eighteenth century Carnival, where lovers meet discreetly, and masks make everyone equal.

Amazon US | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble

Nico shrugged in the French wingback chair they had placed by the fireplace for his portrait. He looked regal in a black silk suit trimmed in gold and a waistcoat of burgundy and gold leaf-patterned brocade. It seemed Raul had excellent taste in men’s fashions.

Marietta rolled her eyes before she settled in a chair behind the easel. “Please keep still while I draw.”

“May I talk?”

“I’d rather you didn’t.” Looking at him was going to be enough distraction. She didn’t need to listen to him also.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Book Review: A Breath of Snow and Ashes

A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander #6)
Diana Gabaldon

Release Date: September 27, 2005

Diana Gabaldon

Book Description:
A Breath of Snow and Ashes continues the extraordinary story of 18th-century Scotsman Jamie Fraser and his 20th-century wife, Claire.

The year is 1772, and on the eve of the American Revolution, the long fuse of rebellion has already been lit. Men lie dead in the streets of Boston, and in the backwoods of North Carolina, isolated cabins burn in the forest.

With chaos brewing, the governor calls upon Jamie Fraser to unite the backcountry and safeguard the colony for King and Crown. But from his wife Jamie knows that three years hence the shot heard round the world will be fired, and the result will be independence — with those loyal to the King either dead or in exile. And there is also the matter of a tiny clipping from The Wilmington Gazette, dated 1776, which reports Jamie’s death, along with his kin. For once, he hopes, his time-traveling family may be wrong about the future.

Amazon US | Goodreads

I’m amazed at the amount of work and detail that must go into writing of these novels and I have no doubt that Diana Gabaldon is a gifted writer with and incredible ability for storytelling. But it is also her downfall. Personally, I’m starting to find these novels a bit tiring – the sheer amount of detail and events seem to overshadow the main arc of the story, if there is even one at this point. However, the reason I can’t give up these books completely is my fascination with the main characters of these novels – Claire and Jamie, both of whom are charismatic, idealistic, imperfect, selfish yet selfless, and endearing even when they infuriate me with their action. It isn’t an ideal world and these aren’t ideal novels but there is still enough spark to keep me reading, craving, and wanting more…

Monday, November 11, 2013

Book Review & Giveaway: The Marquess of Cake {Blog Tour}

The Marquess of Cake (Redcakes #1)
Heather Hiestand

Release Date: July 4, 2013

Heather Hiestand

Book Description:
Coffee…tea…or a pastry chef sweeter than any confection…

Scotch trifle fit for Queen Victoria, scones with clotted cream…Alys Redcake knows the way to a man’s heart. Yet she is unaware that with each morsel—and flash of ankle—she is seducing the handsome marquess frequenting her father’s tea shop. Unmarried at twenty-six, Alys’s first love is the family business. But thoughts of the gentleman’s touch are driving her to distraction…

With his weakness for sugar, the Marquess of Hatbrook can imagine no more desirable woman than one scented with cake and spice. Mistaking Alys for a mere waitress, he has no doubt she would make a most delicious mistress. And when he finds himself in need of an heir, he plans to make her his convenient bride. Yet as they satisfy their craving for one another, business and pleasure suddenly collide. Will Hatbrook’s passion for sweets—and for Alys—be his heart’s undoing?

Amazon US | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

Digital review copy provided by Foreword Literary in exchange for fair and honest review.

What can I say? Romance and sweets – I simply couldn’t resist the temptation. And so I found myself with a copy of The Marquess of Cake, an enjoyable and quick read that certainly played to my sweet tooth.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Have Fun & Throw a Dinner Party

The holidays are just around the corner and I am starting my planning early. I’m hosting Thanksgiving this year and can’t wait to start cooking. So as I was doing a bit of early prep – researching some menu ideas, I thought it would be great to share of few of my tips on hosting, cooking, and having fun doing it.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Author Spotlight: Christine S. Feldman

Hi guys! A little treat to start your Monday: a preview of the new novella from Christine S. Feldman – Pastels & Jingle Bells. Enjoy and don’t forget to add it to your TBR list!

Pastels & Jingle Bells (Heavenly Bites Novella #1)
Christine S. Feldman

Release Date: November 1, 2013

Christine S. Feldman

Book Description:
Trish Ackerly never expected to cross paths with Ian Rafferty again, but when she spots the former bully of her childhood years through her bakery window, she thinks she may just have been given the best Christmas gift ever:  the opportunity to finally give Ian the comeuppance he deserves.

But clearly she does not have a knack for this whole revenge thing, because before she can make good on her plans, Trish gets inadvertently drawn into Ian’s life in an unexpected way that lets her see just how different the man is from the boy he used to be.  In fact, much to her astonishment, she actually starts to like the guy.

A lot.

Trouble is, Ian doesn’t know who she really is, and explaining it to him is going to be a little difficult now—which is bad news, because Trish is starting to realize that all she really wants for Christmas this year…is Ian.

Amazon US | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble

It was probably inviting the worst kind of karma to be contemplating murder during the holiday season of all times, but that didn’t phase Trish Ackerly in the slightest as she stared through her bakery’s storefront window in shock.

It was him.  Ian Rafferty, bane of her junior high school existence.  She’d know that face anywhere, despite the changes in it.  Sure, he was a couple of feet taller now and certainly broader shouldered, but as he glanced away from the winter scene she had painted on the window only yesterday and at a passing car that whizzed by much too fast on the busy city street, the profile he presented to her confirmed it.  Yes, it was him.  That same nose, the odd little scar above his eye, the familiar way he quirked his lips…

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Around the Web #11

Hi guys! Hope everyone had a great week trick or treating, dressing up, and eating indecent amounts of candy. So while you recover from you sugar high check out my round up of webby links from the past week.

I’m off to vacation next week. I have a few posts scheduled to keep you entertained while I’m away so help spread the word for me since I’ll probably have limited connectivity. Have fun and I’ll see you in a week. Adiós!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Cover Reveal: Fractured Heart

I am very happy to introduce a fellow blogger and debut author Krystle Lewallen and help reveal the cover of her new YA/NA novel - Fractured Heart. So check it out! (Links to follow, stay tuned). 

Fractured Heart (The Redemption Series Book #1)
Krystle Lewallen

Release Date: November 29, 2013

Krystle Lewallen

Book Description:
My name is Katy. I have been ripped apart and torn to shreds by past and present circumstances. Everything that I am has been tested and faith is slowly fading away. I try to forget the past and move on try not to let those events define my life. But the past, she just walked through the door and she is about to test every limit that I can handle. My life, is about to get real.

Available in eBook and paperback

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Recipe: Tomato Jam & a BLT Sandwich

So here’s a nice twist on the usual BLT sandwich: bacon, lettuce and tomato jam sandwich with goat cheese. I’ve had something similar while I was away in Ottawa and the idea of it has been following me ever since – I had to make it home, but first I needed tomato jam! After searching the web for various tomato jam recipes I found a few and took them to my kitchen, to experiment and here’s what I came up with. [If you are not up for making your own tomato jam, try a store-bought variety instead, but I would highly recommend trying this fun BLT.]

Tomato Jam
Makes 2 cups

Adapted from Food52

2.5 - 3 lbs tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 half bell pepper, diced
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tbsp champagne vinegar
Juice of ½ lemon

Monday, October 28, 2013

Book Review: A Study in Darkness

A Study in Darkness (The Baskerville Affair #2)
Emma Jane Holloway

Release Date: October 29, 2013

Emma Jane Holloway

Book Description:
When a bomb goes off at 221B Baker Street, Evelina Cooper is thrown into her Uncle Sherlock’s world of mystery and murder. But just when she thought it was safe to return to the ballroom, old, new, and even dead enemies are clamoring for a place on her dance card.

Before Evelina’s even unpacked her gowns for a country house party, an indiscretion puts her in the power of the ruthless Gold King, who recruits her as his spy. He knows her disreputable past and exiles her to the rank alleyways of Whitechapel with orders to unmask his foe.

As danger mounts, Evelina struggles between hiding her illegal magic and succumbing to the darker aspects of her power. One path keeps her secure; the other keeps her alive. For rebellion is brewing, a sorcerer wants her soul, and no one can protect her in the hunting ground of Jack the Ripper.

Amazon US | Goodreads

Egalley courtesy of Random House Publishing Group - Del Rey Spectra via NetGalley in exchange for fair and honest review.

As the name would suggest Evelina Cooper’s second turn takes on a much darker tone as mysteries abound and our heroine lends herself into a series of unfortunate events. In an attempt to protect her family, her honor and place in society, as well as one dashing pirate, Evelina signs her freedoms away unto the hands of none other than Gold King himself. Exiled to the dark streets of the Whitechapel Evelina must become a spy for the Gold King in order to unmask his enemy, but what she uncovers might be even more sinister than the brewing war among the steam barons.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Around the Web #10

Guess what? The wait is over and Allegiant (Divergent #3) by Veronica Roth has finally arrived! I was eagerly awaiting it myself, and am savoring my read, but the response to the last chapter of the Divergent saga has been varied, and often harsh. As I gathered from the storm of Twitter comments and other social media outlets, an important character death at the conclusion of the series upset a lot of people. So, here are a few articles on the series, and Allegiant in particular, as well as Veronica’s response to reader reaction.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

TV Series Review: The White Queen

The White Queen
A STARZ Original Miniseries Event

Original Run: BBC One June 16, 2013 – August 18, 2013/STARZ August 10, 2013 – October 19, 2013


About the Series:
The White Queen is a riveting portrayal of one of the most dramatic and turbulent times in English history. A story of love and lust, seduction and deception, betrayal and murder, it is uniquely told through the perspective of three different, yet equally relentless women - Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort and Anne Neville. In their quest for power, they will scheme, manipulate and seduce their way onto the English throne.

The year is 1464, before the Tudor dynasty ruled the country, and war has been ravaging throughout England over who is the rightful King. It is a bitter dispute between two sides of the same family, The House of York and The House of Lancaster.

The House of York's young and handsome Edward IV is crowned King of England with the help of the master manipulator, Lord Warwick "The Kingmaker." But when Edward falls in love with a beautiful Lancastrian commoner, Elizabeth Woodville, Warwick's plan to control the throne comes crashing down.

A violent, high-stakes struggle ensues between Elizabeth, her most fierce adversary, Lancastrian Margaret Beaufort, and Anne Neville, the pawn in her father's power game - each woman vying for the crown.


Manipulation is the name of the game! The White Queen miniseries event has come to an end this past weekend with an epic battle and a promise of the new King and the new reign. It was a great run for the series, which kept me thoroughly entertained and waiting for the Saturday night each week to get more of these ferocious ladies, all vying for the power, their men, and of course the coveted throne of England.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

New Releases: October 2013

New Releases: October 2013

October has been an incredible month full of exciting new releases. So I thought I’d share a few that made my ever-growing to-read shelf. Which books made yours?

Veronica Roth Michelle Diener

Monday, October 21, 2013

Book Review: My Lady Quicksilver

My Lady Quicksilver (London Steampunk #3)
Bec McMaster

Release Date: October 1, 2013

Bec McMaster

Book Description:
Determined to destroy the Echelon she despises, Rosalind Fairchild is on seemingly easy mission. Get in. Uncover the secrets of her brother's disappearance. And get out.

In order to infiltrate the Nighthawks and find their leader, Sir Jasper Lynch, Rosalind will pose as their secretary. But she doesn't count on Lynch being such a dangerously charismatic man, challenging her at every turn, forcing her to re-evaluate everything she knows about the enemy.

He could be her most dangerous nemesis—or the ally she never dreamed existed.

Amazon US | Goodreads

“The Council gave him three weeks to find Mercury. Or he would share Mercury’s fate.” My Lady Quicksilver (p. 387).

Love, honor, duty, deception, desire and revenge are the elements that make My Lady Quicksilver a delicious thrill ride through the streets of this dark steampunk incarnation of London, where no one is safe and nothing is what it seems. As the tension between the Echelon and the humanists continues to escalate, Sir Jasper Lynch, fearsome leader of the Nighthawks, takes on the hunt of the mysterious revolutionary – Mercury, only to discover that s/he is not so easy to catch…

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Around the Web #9

Hi guys! I must apologize for being a bit quiet this week. Work was unexpectedly busy this past week, which sidetracked me off of my reading/writing schedule. Fear not though, I have some great reviews in the works and next week Allegiant will finally be here - woohoo! I can’t wait to read it and just hope it was worth the wait. Have a good weekend!

Neil Gaiman
A brilliant talk given by Neil Gaiman at The Reading Agency on necessity of reading and keeping our libraries open for the brighter future.

Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming ~ Link

Monday, October 14, 2013

Book Review: The Scribe

The Scribe (Irin Chronicles #1)
Elizabeth Hunter

Release Date: October 15, 2013

Elizabeth Hunter

Book Description:
Hidden at the crossroads of the world, an ancient race battles to protect humanity, even as it dies from within.

Ava Matheson came to Istanbul looking for answers, but others came looking for her. A reckless warrior guards her steps, but will Malachi’s own past blind him to the truth of who Ava might be? While ancient forces gather around them, both Ava and Malachi search for answers.

Whispering voices. Deadly touch. Their passion should be impossible... or it could be the only thing that will keep them alive.

THE SCRIBE is the first book in the Irin Chronicles, the new paranormal romance series from Elizabeth Hunter, author of the Elemental Mysteries.

Amazon US | Goodreads

ARC courtesy of the author, in exchange for fair and honest review. Thank you!

Do you believe in myths and legends that talk of supreme beings, fallen angels, and wars fought and won over the fate of humanity? What if these myths are true and you are about to uncover the magic within? Would you fight or run? Would the choice be yours, if unbeknown to you it is what you were born to do?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Around the Web #8

Hi guys! The weekend is finally here and I’m happy to share with you some news around the web in this week’s round-up.

Booklovers Anonymous
The last two books I’ve read were absolutely fabulous [reviews next week!] and I feel almost restored and inspired. But now, the wait for the next book in the series begins all over again. Yup, I admit reading series is addicting, and reading good series is even worse because you can’t help but wait for the next book with eager anticipation, counting months, days, hours, minutes… You get the idea and Buzzfeed knows exactly how we, addicts booklovers, feel.

What It Feels Like When The Next Book Finally Comes Out ~ Link

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Book Review: Bridget Jones

Bridget Jones’s Diary (Bridget Jones #1)
Helen Fielding

Release Date: June 1, 1999

Helen Fielding

Book Description:
Meet Bridget Jones—a 30-something Singleton who is certain she would have all the answers if she could:

    a. lose 7 pounds
    b. stop smoking
    c. develop Inner Poise

"123 lbs. (how is it possible to put on 4 pounds in the middle of the night? Could flesh have somehow solidified becoming denser and heavier? Repulsive, horrifying notion), alcohol units 4 (excellent), cigarettes 21 (poor but will give up totally tomorrow), number of correct lottery numbers 2 (better, but nevertheless useless)..."

Bridget Jones' Diary is the devastatingly self-aware, laugh-out-loud daily chronicle of Bridget's permanent, doomed quest for self-improvement — a year in which she resolves to: reduce the circumference of each thigh by 1.5 inches, visit the gym three times a week not just to buy a sandwich, form a functional relationship with a responsible adult, and learn to program the VCR.

Over the course of the year, Bridget loses a total of 72 pounds but gains a total of 74. She remains, however, optimistic. Through it all, Bridget will have you helpless with laughter, and — like millions of readers the world round — you'll find yourself shouting, "Bridget Jones is me!"

Amazon US | Goodreads

Monday, October 7, 2013

Book Review: Jerusalem: A Cookbook

Jerusalem: A Cookbook
Yotam Ottolenghi, Sami Tamimi

Release Date: January 1, 2012

Yotam Ottolenghi, Sami Tamimi

Book Description:
A collection of 120 recipes exploring the flavors of Jerusalem from the New York Times bestselling author of Plenty, one of the most lauded cookbooks of 2011.

In Jerusalem, Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi explore  the vibrant cuisine of their home city—with its diverse Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities. Both men were born in Jerusalem in the same year—Tamimi on the Arab east side and Ottolenghi in the Jewish west. This stunning cookbook offers 120 recipes from their unique cross-cultural perspective, from inventive vegetable dishes to sweet, rich desserts. With five bustling restaurants in London and two stellar cookbooks, Ottolenghi is one of the most respected chefs in the world; in Jerusalem, he and Tamimi have collaborated to produce their most personal cookbook yet.

Amazon US | Goodreads

Absolutely fantastic!

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