Saturday, June 29, 2013

Book Review: Drums of Autumn

Drums of Autumn (Outlander #4)
Diana Gabaldon

Release Date: December 30, 1996

Book Description:
In this breathtaking novel—rich in history and adventure—The New York Times bestselling author Diana Gabaldon continues the story of Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser that began with the now-classic novel Outlander and continued in Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager. Once again spanning continents and centuries, Diana Gabaldon has created a work of sheer passion and brilliance....

It began at an ancient Scottish stone circle. There, a doorway, open to a select few, leads into the past—or the grave. Dr. Claire Randall survived the extraordinary passage, not once but twice.

Her first trip swept her into the arms of Jamie Fraser, an eighteenth-century Scot whose love for her became a legend—a tale of tragic passion that ended with her return to the present to bear his child. Her second journey, two decades later, brought them together again in the American colonies. But Claire had left someone behind in the twentieth century—their daughter, Brianna....

Now Brianna has made a disturbing discovery that sends her to the circle of stones and a terrifying leap into the unknown. In search of her mother and the father she has never met, she is risking her own future to try to change history ... and to save their lives. But as Brianna plunges into an uncharted wilderness, a heartbreaking encounter may strand her forever in the past ... or root her in the place she should be, where her heart and soul belong....

Amazon US | Goodreads

As another installment in the Outlander saga draws to a close I feel a sense of accomplishment. I’ve lived along with these characters for so long now, that I am almost sad to see another book end. At over a thousand pages [or 40 plus listening hours in my case], I can certainly see why so many readers [myself included] have been captivated by these stories. Ms. Gabaldon is unquestionably a gifted storyteller, but like any franchise certain things continue to work well, while others become repetitive or even annoying. Still, my love remains with these characters.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Recipe: Ratatouille

Guess what? I got another recipe for you guys! I had a sudden spurt of cooking inspiration this weekend, and I am a firm believer that for best tasting results it’s always good to cook when you are up for it. So, here we are, and don’t be surprised if you see more recipes popping up in the next few weeks.

Anyway, remember that adorable cartoon about a rat cooking away in a French kitchen? Yes, I am talking about Ratatouille! I’m generally not a fan of vermin but couldn’t help but love adorable Remy. And, I certainly share his love for his signature dish. So, here’s my take on ratatouille, which is a perfect summer dish.

[rat-uh-too-ee, -twee; French ra-ta-too-yuh]

a vegetable stew of Provence, typically consisting of eggplant, zucchini, onions, green peppers, tomatoes, and garlic, served hot or cold.

1875–80;  < French

Friday, June 21, 2013

Recipe: Sharlotka

I don’t have a great many desserts in my cooking repertoire but I have a few that are easy enough to whip up at a moment’s notice and this recipe below is my frequent go to. In fact, this is one of the first desserts I learned to bake. Growing up, my mom often used to make this apple cake, especially in the late summer and fall when apples are in their prime and boast a wide variety. And, it often reminds me of those evenings spent around the family table, enjoying a good cup of tea and a slice of freshly baked Sharlotka. So, I hope you also enjoy this simple dessert and share it with your family.

Sharlotka – Russian Apple Cake
Servings 8 – 10

Butter or olive oil, for greasing pan
Bread crumbs or semolina flour, for flouring pan
3 eggs
¾ cup sugar (up to 1 cup sugar if you have a sweet tooth)
1 cup flour
½ tsp baking soda, dissolved in 1 tsp vinegar
3-4 tart apples (medium size)
Confectioner’s sugar, if desired

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan. (If you prefer, you can line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper instead of using flour or bread crumbs).

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Please follow via Bloglovin (& other thoughts)

The ultimate demise of Google Reader…

As many of you know, Google Reader will be retired on July 1, 2013. And, to those of you who have kindly followed (or will follow) the blog, I ask that you consider doing so either via Bloglovin, FeedBurner, or other service of your choice other than Google Friend Connect (“GFC”) that I hear might be going away in the near future as well. I myself have found Bloglovin quite an agreeable service. It offers the ease of transition with an option to import your Google Reader content once you sign up with them. Of course, there are plenty of other platforms to choose from, so the choice is all yours!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Book Review: Strange Fates

Strange Fates (Nyx Fortuna #1)
Marlene Perez

Release Date: March 19, 2013

Book Description:
The first in a line of three exciting new urban fantasy novels blending elements of Greek myth and forbidden romance against the backdrop of Minnesota's magical underworld.
Brooding, leather jacket-wearing Nyx Fortuna looks like a 20-something, and has for centuries now. As the son of the forgotten fourth Fate, Lady Fortuna, he has been hunted his entire life by the three Sisters of Fate that murdered his mother.
Fed up and out for revenge, Nyx comes to Minneapolis following a tip that his aunts have set up a business there. His goal to bring down his mother's killers and retrieve the thread of fate that has trapped him in the body of a twenty year old unable to age or die.
But when a chance meeting with the mysterious, dangerous and very mortal Elizabeth Abernathy throws off his plans, he must reconcile his humanity and his immortality.

Amazon US | Goodreads

Egalley courtesy of Orbit Books/Hachette Book Group via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Nyx Fortuna is the son of Lady Fortuna murdered at the hands of her sisters – Fates. Nyx sets out on a mission to avenge his mother and find an end to his own immortality. Tired of being constantly on the run, he is finally ready to face his ominous aunts, who have hunted him since his mother’s death. But, to put his plan in motion, Nyx needs to get close to his enemies. Thus, he comes to Minnesota [of all places to find Greek mythological figures], where the Fates have taken residence and spawned a business empire, where among other things they produce the nectar of the gods, banned by the magical underworld. The nectar, also known as ambrosia can help prolong the life of the mortal, with an exception of unfortunate side effect of making one go mad and die an agonizing death. But then, have the Fates developed a new formula? And what’s with the sudden appearance of the girl – Elizabeth, who is a ringer for Nyx’s dead ex-girlfriend?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Welcome to Facebook!

Hello again! I have some news – of the social network variety. Zemfirka Blogs finally joined Facebook! So, you can now follow or rather like here. Please & thank you! And, in honor of Facebook integration, and thanks to friends who ask smart questions here is a bit about the name of the blog, if you ever wondered…

To dissipate questions you might have about the name, Zemfirka is simply a name. It is a diminutive form of the name Zemfira, which accidentally means rebellious as I’ve discovered. I’ve also found the meaning to be translated from Greek to Russian (ζαφείρι)[zefiri] as "sapphire". Cool enough? It also has literary significance; Zemfira is the name of the heroine in Pushkin’s poem “The Gypsies” which you can read here.

Monday, June 10, 2013


Hi guys! It seems that weeks have been flying by and it’s already almost mid-June. Crazy, isn’t it? I still feel as though we’ve just celebrated the winter holidays… But, on the bright side, the weather has been generally wonderful, rainy days aside. It is not yet hot and humid here in New England, but just the right kind of balance which makes you yearn to spend more time outside. So, why not grab a good book and head outside to your favorite spot, be it the park, the waterfront, or whichever other place. And, I am going to assist you in this endeavor by giving away one of the seven novels I’ve picked up at Book Expo America the other week. Your choice!

Victoria, xoxo 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Book Review: Fall of Sky City

Fall of Sky City (Devices of War #1)
S.M. Blooding

Release Date: March 8, 2013

Book Description:
In a world governed by the opposing forces of the mystical House of Tarot and the tribal Great Families, Synn is caught in the crossfire. He witnesses the slaughter of innocent people, and the devastating murder of his father. This act awakens his Mark of power, a Mark greater than any the world has seen in a very long time.

Queen Nix thought she won a great prize when she destroyed Synn’s father, the leader of the strongest Great Families. She had no idea she’d be doubly blessed by capturing his son. However, before Synn can become her treasured weapon, before she can use him to bring the rest of the world to its knees, she must break him and bind his soul to hers.

She does her job with brutal brilliance. Synn’s mind is broken and his soul is seared to hers in an unbreakable bond.

That doesn’t stop him from wanting to be free. She may have broken his mind and claimed his soul, but he will find a way to destroy her.

Experience a world of ships that sail the clouds and cites buried beneath the ocean, and survive the fiery battle brought forth by those who control the forces of nature!

Amazon US | Goodreads

I received this book compliment of the author in exchange for fair and honest review. Thank you!

"Killer Queen" by Queen

She's a Killer Queen
Gunpowder, guillotine
Dynamite with a laser beam
Guaranteed to blow your mind

Welcome aboard! You are about to immerse yourself into the world of steampunk adventures and unique fantasy world building; sail the ships through expanse of cool, windy skies, and dive deep into the blue oceans where whole cities have flourished. We follow Synn and his friends on their adventures as they learn to navigate the world amidst a war with an evil Queen Nix, who will stop at nothing to claim Synn as her own.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Where’s Waldo… (Or My BEA Adventures)

Book Expo America 2013

Hi guys! Did you have a good weekend? Cause I had a fabulous weekend. My husband and I headed off to NYC late Friday night for our first ever Book Expo America and it was pretty awesome, a bit intimidating, and at times overwhelming, but otherwise, just wonderful! OK, I’m going to stop sounding like a complete dork and will just tell you that it was lots of fun, and I definitely need to plan better next time. I mean, I did plan this time but clearly next time, if there is a next time, I mean where do I sign up for next time? Oops, excuse the babbling... I did plan, things like hotel, parking, timing, tickets, and I had a few things I wanted to see and do at the Expo itself, but it was not enough. Next time, I am sitting down and researching, scheduling, and outlining my stops before I get there, because clearly attending BEA without a plan, one can easily find oneself like a kid in a candy store. 

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