Monday, September 30, 2013

Author Guest Post: Jamie Baywood – Getting Rooted in New Zealand

Hi guys! I’m very happy to welcome Jamie Baywood to the blog today. Jamie is the author of a fun, new travel memoir, Getting Rooted in New Zealand, and she is here to share a bit on her adventures in New Zealand, writing a book, and what lies ahead.

* * *

It was always my dream to live abroad when I was growing up in California. I had bad dating experiences in California and read in a New Zealand tour book that the country’s population at 100,000 fewer men than women.  I wanted to have some me time and an adventure. New Zealand seemed like a good place to do so.

I consider myself an accidental author. I didn’t go to New Zealand with the intentions of writing a book about my experiences there. I had funny experiences that I had trouble believing were true. I wrote the stories down to stay sane. I wrote situations down that were happening around me and shared them with friends. The stories made people laugh so I decided to organize the stories into a book and publish in the hopes to make others laugh too.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Around the Web #6

A brand new round-up of webby links: from banned books, new technologies, to movies and a bit of controversy. 

Recently, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the new Review Guidelines at Goodreads. The new policy certainly roused the book-loving community and raised many questions. But whether you agree or not, it’s always best to be informed. So here are the rules, the discussions, and a great post on the subject.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Recipe: Pot Roast

The weather is certainly getting cooler outside, and now we bade summer adieu. But, the cooking season is just beginning. I think fall is the perfect season to get back into the kitchen and make good use of that almost forgotten oven. It is also a perfect season for hearty dishes, such as pot roast. So, pick up a nice piece of boneless beef chuck roast, some bright and crisp carrots, leaks, herbs, and a bottle of nice red wine. Three hours and you got yourself a delicious meal, perfect for a cool fall night.

Pot Roast
Servings 4 - 6

Monday, September 23, 2013

Book Review: Lady of Devices

Lady of Devices (Magnificent Devices #1)
Shelley Adina

Release Date: May 29, 2011

Book Description:
London, 1889. Victoria is Queen. Charles Darwin’s son is Prime Minister. And steam is the power that runs the world.

At 17, Claire Trevelyan, daughter of Viscount St. Ives, was expected to do nothing more than pour an elegant cup of tea, sew a fine seam, and catch a rich husband. Unfortunately, Claire’s talents lie not in the ballroom, but in the chemistry lab, where things have a regrettable habit of blowing up. When her father gambles the estate on the combustion engine and loses, Claire finds herself down and out on the mean streets of London. But being a young woman of resources and intellect, she turns fortune on its head. It’s not long before a new leader rises in the underworld, known only as the Lady of Devices . . .

When she meets Andrew Malvern, a member of the Royal Society of Engineers, she realizes her talents may encompass more than the invention of explosive devices. They may help her realize her dreams and his . . . if they can both stay alive long enough to see that sometimes the closest friendships can trigger the greatest betrayals . . .

Amazon US | Goodreads

I want to write something positive about this one, but the truth is I found it underwhelming. I was expecting a fun and exciting romp in Victorian England, charming and witty but this was neither. The premise, the steampunk elements, and the fact that this series has been popping up on my radar for quite some time convinced me to finally give it a chance [and you know I don’t miss a good Kindle deal – the first book of the series is indeed free]. Perhaps my expectation was a bit too high, so I’ll say this was still a cute little novel that was entertaining in parts and made an interesting attempt at world-building. But, even though, this was highly reminiscent of Gail Carriger’s novels, at the end it was not.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

I'm back!

Hi guys! I’m back from Canada and ready to take on the weekend. So just wanted to pop-in and wish everyone a good weekend as well and share a few of the beautiful photos from my trip. Unfortunately, I didn’t take too many photos, but, nonetheless, I quite enjoyed my trip to the capital of Canada.

The Rideau Canal

Monday, September 16, 2013

Recipe: Russian Kotlety

As you know, I am going away on business this week, so of course, I have to stock the fridge for my lovely husband [not that he isn’t capable of cooking himself]. But, it is a nice thing to do and I really do not mind, especially when the mood to cook strikes. So, I was cooking up a storm this weekend, from pot roast, fried mushrooms, roasted potatoes, and kotlety – you’d think I was going away for a month, not just a few days. Anyhow, this recipe below is pretty much a staple of convenient Russian comfort food, and it was one of my personal favorites growing up. This is quite similar to the familiar meatballs, less the sauce, and I hope you give it a try.

Russian Kotlety
Servings 4

1 lb ground beef
½ medium onion, minced
1 egg
Salt and pepper

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Around the Web #5

Well… Hello there! Sorry, I’m a bit late this week with this post, it’s been a hectic week at work, but all is good now. I’ve finally gotten to my computer and here I am, once again, eager to share the webby links from the week past.

*Just a quick note, I’m off to jolly Canada next week for work, and it might be a bit quiet around here. But, fear not, dear friends – I shall be back! 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Cover Reveal: Have Gown, Will Wed

Hi guys! It’s Friday and I’m excited to help unveil the cover for Killian McRae’s new novel, Have Gown, Will Wed, which will be out later this month. Head on over to Killian’s website and read the excerpt. It sounds like a really fun contemporary romance novel, so check it out and don’t forget to add it to your TBR list.

Victoria, xoxo

Have Gown, Will Wed
Killian McRae

Release Date: September 25, 2013

Killian McRae

Book Description:
Back in college, the bras-before-bros sisterhood decided to live for achievement in the boardroom, not the bedroom. Rosalind Betters embraced that philosophy, pursuing her career and little else. But when her last single friend, Kamakshi, announces her engagement in of all things, an arranged marriage, Rosalind reevaluates the merits of matrimony. In her typical gung ho fashion, she names a date, books a venue, hires a caterer, and picks out a dress, all before finding a groom. Taking a lesson from Kamakshi and too busy to do otherwise, Rosalind hires San Francisco's best headhunter, Xavier Hommes, to find her better half for her. 

At first, Xavier thinks Rosalind is one of the eccentric personalities for which the city is famous. As the search starts, however, Xavier finds himself hating his task for reasons he never would have suspected. If Rosalind really wants a man who will make her happy, she need look no further. As W-Day approaches and Rosalind starts falling for someone Xavier himself headhunted, he walks the line between professionalism and passion, trying to decide if competing to become Mr. Betters is worth the risk to his commission, his reputation, and Rosalind's happiness.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Book Review: City of Bones

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1)
Cassandra Clare

Release Date: March 27, 2007

Book Description:
When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder -- much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing -- not even a smear of blood -- to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . . .

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare's ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.

Amazon US | Goodreads

Okay… finally done! It was a bit of a struggle, but I’ve done it. I practically had to force myself through the first half, and then read the second half in one sitting. Go figure. All in all though, I feel disappointed, underwhelmed and annoyed. I had such high hopes and expectations, since everyone talked about The Mortal Instruments so highly, that I expected to enjoy it immensely and what I’ve found did not impress. Don’t take it to heart dear friends, if you don’t agree with my opinion – I still love and value you and your recommendations, but this book was not for me. And, let me tell you why… [For those, unfamiliar with the novel, beware: mild spoilers ahead!]

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Title Reveal: The Book of Life

The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy #3)
Deborah Harkness

Exciting news! Deb Harkness just revealed the title of the final book in the All Souls Trilogy. The highly anticipated manuscript shall be called The Book of Life! So, there you have it. I simply can’t wait to read this one. I absolutely fell in love with both A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night and have been a huge fan ever since. I might even say that Deb’s books invigorated my passion for reading and eventually led to creation of this very blog, as well as helped create many wonderful new friendships within the All Souls Trilogy fan community along the way. Big things all around!

Around the Web #4

Hi guys! Hope everyone had a good week and is ready for the weekend! I know I am, even though it was a short week due to the Labor Day holiday this past Monday. The weather suddenly turned a tad cooler, and I can almost feel the summer waning out… It’s a bit sad, but then fall is the time of year to cozy up with a nice cup of tea, or coffee [did I mention the Pumpkin Spice is back at Starbucks already!?] and a good book of course! And that is just my plan this weekend – to catch up on some good reads!  By the way, here’s a round-up of webby links from this week. Lots of things going on…

Friday, September 6, 2013

Book Review: The Transfer: A Divergent Story

The Transfer: A Divergent Story (Divergent #0.1)
Veronica Roth

Release Date:  September 3, 2013

Book Description:
More Four! Fans of the Divergent series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth will be thrilled by "The Transfer," the first of four new short stories told from Four’s perspective. Each brief story explores the world of the Divergent series through the eyes of the mysterious but charismatic Tobias Eaton, revealing previously unknown facets of his personality, backstory, and relationships.

Amazon US | Goodreads

I really enjoyed this opportunity to have a glance at the Divergent world once again, especially in anticipation of the final full novel release, Allegiant, which is hitting the shelves this October. The Transfer is the first of the four short stories, set in the Divergent universe and told from Four’s perspective. As Divergent fans know, Four is the love interest of the heroine in the books and have become not only a significant character but also quite the fan favorite.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Book Review: The Fiery Cross

The Fiery Cross (Outlander #5)
Diana Gabaldon

Release Date: November 6, 2001

Book Description:
The year is 1771, and war is coming. Jamie Fraser’s wife tells him so. Little as he wishes to, he must believe it, for hers is a gift of dreadful prophecy—a time-traveler’s certain knowledge. Claire’s unique view of the future has brought him both danger and deliverance in the past; her knowledge of the oncoming revolution is a flickering torch that may light his way through the perilous years ahead—or ignite a conflagration that will leave their lives in ashes.

Amazon US | Goodreads

Mild spoilers ahead

It seems it’s been forever and yet, here I am, having finished another of the Outlander novels. I’m almost feeling proud of myself for having accomplished this, as this novel had me wondering if I was ready to give up the series all together. Alas, I’ve already purchased the two follow-up novels and that would be a real waste in my opinion, so on and on I went, as did Ms. Gabaldon…

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Giveaway: The Immortals of New Orleans – Winner

And the winner is…Amanda B.!

You get to pick one of the two novels below, courtesy of Kym Grosso.


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