Thanks for stopping by my little blog about knitting, reading, and cooking - 3 of my favorite things!!! I'm no expert on any of these, so input is not just welcomed, but encouraged! Now let's have a little fun!!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Book Review: The Recipe Box by Sandra Lee

  A PERFECT addition for your cookbook collection!!

Ok, so maybe for your bookshelf, but this book does double duty as both a sweet novel AND with the added bonus of Ms. Lee's amazing recipes! 

Not only do I own most of Sandra Lee's cookbooks, and absolutely love her show, but now she can add accomplished author to her repertoire because this book is a keeper!! 

Grace Holm-DeAngelo is a workaholic, recently divorced, and most important, the mother to fourteen year old Emma.  She's just moved to Los Angeles to work on her newest adventure, a television vampire series "The Lost Ones."  She loves her work and often spends more of her time with her work family rather than her own distressed daughter who desperately needs her during this tremendous time of adjustment. 
As if there isn't enough turmoil in her life, she's just lost her best friend to cancer and is dealing with secrets from her past that have come back to haunt her. 
Reeling with almost every emotion, Grace returns to her hometown of New London, Wisconsin to figure out what to do with herself and what is best for her daughter.  Emma wants to be in Chicago, Grace wants to be back at work in Los Angeles, but Wisconsin seems to be the best for both of them.  Grace has found new love, and maybe a new relationship with her estranged mother; Emma is finally doing well in school; and Grace has renewed a love she once had for cooking.  But as a forty-something woman, should she stay where she is happy, or return to L.A. to begin the newest chapter in her life? 

Sandra Lee has written the sweetest, most delicious book I've read in quite some time.  I love books about starting over, and when you include recipes, well then, I'm sold.  I mean how can you go wrong?  Lovely story about friendship and family bonds, all mixed with Cinnamon Rolls and Blood Orange Sheet Cake!! 

For anyone who enjoys Foodie Fiction, this is a book for you.  In many ways it reminded me of The Ladybug series by Donna Ball, so if you've read those and enjoyed, this is a sure hit!

Thank you Hyperion and Net Galley for the ARC of this most fabulous fun read!!! 

Now, I'm off to go bake something!!  Happy Reading!!!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Book Review: Muckross Folly by J.L. Austgen

The BEST book you haven't read!!

This is one amazing read! 

For some reason, I haven't seen many reviews on this book - YET!  Austgen is a force to be reckoned with and in this case, has in my opinion, should be viewed as a fantastic up and coming writer.  

Muckross Folly is Austgen's second novel, the follow up to Keyser Run, which I have not yet read, but after this, it's definitely on my To Be Read (TBR) list!

FBI Agent, Evelyn Morgan is struggling after several members of her team, including her lover, have just been killed by Omar Ben Iblis, an assassin like none other.  He is merciless, cunning, and has just snuck into her apartment to taunt her.  It's the case of a lifetime, and Iblis is personally announcing his retirement to her after the most recent bloodbath he's created.  However, Morgan has vowed at all costs, to catch the man who destroyed her team and her love life.  
Just when she thinks her chances are fading, she learns that not only has tragedy struck yet again, it's also closer to home than she'd like to admit.  Her investigation leads her to an old college friend, Washington big wigs, and ultimately her estranged father.  Not to mention Iblis' protege who may be more deadly than him.  
Morgan needs to act quickly before the retirement before her legendary case grows cold and she's never able to collar the killer who may be the world's most deadly assassin.

This book kept me turning the pages so quickly that had it not been school holidays, I would've finished it in one setting.  It's really that good!  For some reason it demonstrated Girl with the Dragon Tattoo elements, yet with the pace it equally had the intensity of a James Patterson novel.  
I can't remember what initially drew me to this book, but I was so excited to read it, and  very much look forward to reading more by this author.  
I highly recommend this book for anyone who's interested in mysteries and thriller.  And bonus.....it's a steal for your Kindle on Amazon right now.  

Thank you Net Galley and Dreampipe Publishing for this most wonderful read, and introducing me to yet another fantastic writer!!


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Book Review: The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

A MUST READ!!!!  I'm not even quite sure how to begin to review this, as I'm still in awe over the story.  This brilliant debut by Suzanne Rindell, is absolutely delicious!

Rose, a plain girl who was raised by nuns in an orphanage,  is a stenographer for the New York City Police Department.  She leads a simple, albeit mundane life and rather likes it like that.  She is quirky, but a well respected, likeable girl who truly enjoys her job.  That is until SHE walks in to the precinct for an interview for the same position.  Odalie.  That's what she calls herself.  She breezes in with such an air about herself, and decorated with the finest attire.  She has no business waltzing in and stopping the whole place in it's tracks.  She's beautiful, dressed to the nines and wants to work here?  Well, after catching the attention of literally everyone in the precinct, she of course gets the job and Rose's life is about to change forever, or is it?

After a rough start, Rose and Odalie become quick friends and Rose even leaves her home in the boarding house to join Odalie in her posh apartment as her roommate.  However, soon after, Rose learns just how Odalie ticks, and where the money for her coveted lifestyle is actually coming from.  Nevertheless, her feelings of admiration for Odalie continue to grow as she is entering a world of which she'd have never seen without her new friend.  Yet, when this new life of luxury turns into a life of mystery, the plot only thickens while their relationship becomes more and more enmeshed.   Just as she realizes that she may be in over her head, another shocking revelation is revealed. 

SUPERB!!  Rindell has written a book that is without a doubt a home-run!!  I could go on and on about this book, but don't want to give away too much.  While the narration of this incredible novel is a bit different, I found Rose to be an incredible character that is like no other I've read. I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, mysteries, and just flat out great books.

Thank you Susan Rindell for such an amazing book, and thank you Net Galley and Penguin Book Australia for this fantastic book!!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Book Recommendation: Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim


 Why have I only just recently learned of this book!  For fans of The Help, or any Historical Fiction buffs out there, this is a simply FANTASTIC read!!

The year is 1837 in the Deep South, where rich white families give their newly born babies to the wet nurses/nannies to raise.  Lisbeth has just been born and Mattie, the families slave must leave her own baby to tend to the new white girl.  But what begins as somewhat of a bittersweet relationship turns into a true labor of love.  Mattie grows to adore Lisbeth, and Lisbeth finds a deep heart filled trust and love in Mattie.  

Over the years this love continues to grow and Lisbeth is forced to witness just how poorly slaves are treated in the south.  Mattie shares her life stories with Lisbeth, and learns exactly how Mattie came to be her caretaker.  Mattie's given up all she knows to watch over a family that isn't hers.  Then, just as Lisbeth is trying to wrap her head around all that is wrong with slavery, she witnesses an unfortunate incident in which she views and despicable act of violence towards another worker in the house, which only reinforces Lisbeth's need to help Mattie.  After more trials and tribulations, Lisbeth and Mattie become separated but their love from one another knows no bounds.

This is a heartfelt story that will be loved by all that read it.  I can't WAIT to see what the author will bring out next, although this will be hard to beat.  A simply beautiful, albeit short read!

Thank you Net Galley and Flaming Chalice Press for the chance to review such an lovely book.  I can only hope I'll be reading more of her work soon!!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Book Review: The Comfort of Lies: A Novel by Randy Susan Meyers

Author of The Murderer's Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers has done it again.  The Comfort of Lies is is a beautiful tale of Motherly Love that exemplifies the meaning of love, although maybe not in the most traditional way.

The story follows the lives of three women, unknown to each other initially, but came to know one another by means of a child.

Tia was madly in love with Nathan, a man she couldn't have because he was married.  When she found out she was pregnant, Nathan told her to "take care of it".  Knowing she could never harm her baby from the man she loved, much less take care of an infant having no job, she gave the baby up for adoption. 

Juliette, Nathan's wife and mother of Nathan's two boys, was a loving devoted wife who was still struggling after learning of her husband's infidelities.  She was trying everything to keep her family intact and her husband happy. 

Caroline, the workaholic adoptive mother, brought Tia's baby home to please her husband.  It's only after she is officially Mom, does she reconsider her new life role. 

After five years of the women going about their lives, one day changes all of them; they learn about Savannah.  

Savannah, the most loved baby it seems, in all of Boston.  She has an adoptive mother who loves her, but isn't always present; she has a biological mother who unknowingly loves her more than she'll ever know; and even Juliette feels connected to her because she is her husband's daughter. 

Together they all want what's best for Savannah, but apart, this news brings on struggles that could change all of their lives forever. 

What an incredible story.  The story is well written, and the characters are so believable and real, I could really relate to them.  I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good drama and is interested in a fabulous read!!

Thank you Atria Books, via Net Galley, for this most amazing book.  

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Book Review: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

Oh Miss Zelda, what fun it would've been to be you!  At least as told by Therese Anne Fowler in her debut novel of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.  I must say this is a stunning debut about a woman few ever knew existed, but wow does she sound amazing.  I've always been intrigued with the 1920's and the era of the flapper, so I was positively over the moon to receive a copy of this to review!

Zelda was just another sweet Southern Belle, destined for a rather comfortable life of money from her own family, but she was having no part of what was supposed to be.  Zelda wanted to have fun.  She liked to drink and dance, and while out one night dancing with her friends, she met the Mr. F. Scott Fitzgerald.  It was long before Gatsby and at the time he was just another soldier, but an intriguing one at that for Zelda.  She fell for him almost instantly, and although after he had left the war effort, being a writer was not a highly esteemed and barely recognized career.  She loved his flair for flash and parties, and while still a teenager, she Mrs. Zelda Fitzgerald. 

Now it was no easy task being the wife of a writer who'd yet to 'hit it big' but she loved Scott and his nomadic ways until it simply became too much.   The dresses, the parties, the famous friends, and the over the top living arrangements were great in the beginning.  But after years and years of enduring Scott's heavy drinking and less than ambitious work ethic, she decides to take matters and her life in her own hands. 

The novel explores Zelda's experiences, both good and bad, but all the while making for a very interesting read.  Fowler's amazing descriptions are so vivid and delicious you can truly feel yourself walking the streets of early New York and Paris, all the while making me wish I was there as well. I did find the writing a little long winded at times, but overall this is a wonderful book. 

I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoyed Loving Frank and/or The Paris Wife as well as those who enjoy a well written Historical Fiction novel. 

Thank you Net Galley and St. Martin's Press for the copy of this book. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Book Recommendation: Last-Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson

  What a lovely book of sweet gifts!!!
Thank you Open Road Publishers and Net Galley for this most treasured book of beautiful gifts to knit.  As you know I've always got something going, and what is better than giving the gift of a handmade item.
I find that many pattern books often leave a lot to be desired, as they may only have a few things I'm interested in making.  However, this little beauty makes me want to go increase my yarn stash and get ready to go.  Everything in here is not only ideal for the perfect gift, but also makes the reader want to knit it.

This book has everything from 2 Hour Baby Booties and Scarves, to 8 Hour and over Blankets.  It is beautifully presented and I love how not only does it include little tid bits for the knitting novice, but also wonderful explanations and pictures for those who are more experienced knitters who may just need to something little different to finish or embellish the project.  The presentation is simple and beautiful and very well laid out.  I also love how she includes the knitted gift bag, as well as ideas for wrapping these hand made delights.  A perfect addition to any knitters library!  Ok, I'm off to knit!!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Book Recommendation: The Yellow House by Patricia Falvey

  Yes, another quick book recommendation for the day!!  I've been reading like a rock star lately, since I have a few extra minutes to do so, so here I am with yet another book recommendation.

Please note that if the book is a little older, I may not give it a full review as there will be so many out there, and if it's made the list for book recommendation, not just review, then I loved it!!  Why would I suggest you read a bad book - and yes, there are some out there!  However, this book is NOT one of those, it was a wonderful read that I highly recommend!!!

I've wanted to read this for quite some time as it always pops up on my Amazon page when I'm viewing authors I love, such as Sarah Addison Allen, Beth Hoffman, and Jennifer Donnelly.  So it's been on my TBR list for a while.  Then, when I signed up for the Autumn Book Challenge in one of my Goodreads groups, it asked that we read a book about Ireland or by an Irish Author, so now I HAD to read it right?  Well, then it seemed as if it were destined for me to do so when I pulled it up on Amazon and it was a bargain at $2.99 for the Kindle edition, so how could I go wrong.

Patricia Falvey's debut novel in The Yellow House follows a young Irish girl, Eileen.  Growing up in Northern Ireland at the turn of the century was no treat.  Times were tough, the fights were tougher and her family was all she had, that and of course, her beloved yellow house.  When Eileen was young, the money was very tight, yet her father surprised the family one day by bringing home a stash of yellow paint and got the entire family involved in painting the house.  It was as beautiful as a sunset and could be seen from a top many hills in town.  However, with the paint came troubles brewing between the Catholics and the Protestants and ultimately Eileen's family was torn apart in several ways.  She first lost her 4 year old sister to illness, which ultimately killed part of her mother; and as tensions and fighting grew, she lost the rest of her family one way or another, including the yellow house.  It is Eileen's dream to reunite all she's known of a family and live in that house once again.

Over the next 20 years, fighting escalates, she marries James and believes wholeheartedly in his cause, bears a child, and is working in a slave factory, all with the ultimate goal of returning to her beloved yellow house.  Trials and tribulations are only the beginning, but the story, heart wrenching as it may be, is told beautifully by Falvey.  I was truly transported to Ireland, and I find this book reads like a poor version of the ever so popular Downton Abbey.

If you're up for a good old Irish novel, then this is the book for you.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  And who knows, maybe it's still a deal on Amazon!!

Happy Reading!!!!

Book Review: Saving Grace by Fiona McCallum

Walk, no RUN out and buy this book.  What a simply delightful read!!  Fiona McCallum's newest novel, Saving Grace, should be relished with a lovely cup of tea and an afternoon full of good reading!!!  This book will be available in April 2013.

Emily's life is in a bad way.  Her beloved Grandmother has just passed away and she is stuck in a loveless marriage out on the farm.  Fed up with all that's going wrong in her life, she meets an amazing friend in Barbara, the seller of her new puppy, Grace.  With the encouragement from this new found friend, she finally gathers the courage to leave her husband and her old life of comfort behind.  

 With Grace in tow, Emily begins a new chapter in her life, and ends up renting an old farm house of her own.  This house has more than one memory for her father, who is her only other cheerleader in the quest for a new beginning.  Her mother, mortified that she's not only left her husband, but more so that it will make her look bad, is not impressed with the dilapidated house.  Yet, Emily sees great potential and starts to work on what soon will become her home.  On the property she finds a beautiful orchard of fruit trees, and her and Barbara get to work baking and cooking away.  It is those fruit trees that get her wheels turning of things she can do with this big and beautiful house.

Emily is slowly learning that life in a small town is about more than the stares she's getting and begins to embrace her new life.  Together with Grace, Emily and Barbara embark on a journey that could potentially change Emily's luck and life.  Maybe even a male suitor or two?

Again, I absolutely loved this book.  It's an easy read that will simply put a smile on your face.  I'm very much looking forward to her next novel to continue to story of Emily and Grace!! 

Thank you Net Galley and Harlequin Enterprises Australia for an ARC of this book!! 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Chocolate "God" Cupcakes

These little bites of heaven are exactly as the name says..........YUM!!! 

This is an old family recipe that is probably all over the internet in some form or another.  I've seen several and there is always only 1 change of ingredient, but I think this one is BY far the best!!!  Funny how we get used to what we've grown up with.  The recipe is actually for a Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake, but before you gross out, remember what mayonnaise is made of...eggs, oil and sugar.  Hmmmm, this is SO much easier and I swear it's much more moist than the old chocolate cake recipe.  Another plus, this recipe appears to work perfectly at all altitudes and in both hemispheres. 

Without further ado:

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F or 180 degrees Celcius

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons cocoa
(I also tend to add a teaspoon or so of instant coffee, just to kick up the chocolate flavor, but it's not necessary)
1 cup COLD water (this is where the recipes vary, but I find cold water works just fine)
1 cup real mayonnaise
2 teaspoons vanilla

Add all ingredients in a bowl.  Using an electric mixer, hand or stand, mix for 1 minute on a lower speed to simply get things combined, then beat for 2 minutes on a higher speed.

Pour into a 13 x 9 inch cake pan and bake for 40-50 minutes.  I usually bake mine for about 37-38 minutes because my oven seems to cook things a little faster. 
Test cake with toothpick until pick comes out clean.  Stand to cool. 

Frost with choice of frostings.  I tend to make my own with simply powdered sugar and cocoa - yum!

Ok, that's it - but now it's time to eat!!


***This recipe can also be used for cupcakes as it suggests in the title!!** 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Book Review: Tin God by Stacy Green

How lucky am I to be able to review a book that will be released next month!  AND, not only is it a fabulous read, but it is by a relatively new author, Stacy Green www.stacygreen.net
WOW!!!  Stacy Green's newest novel (releasing April 2013) Tin God is one amazing read!!!

Jaymee is a twentysomething with a horrific father (and that's being mild, I'd prefer to use other terms, but will be nice) who lives in a run down trailer yet is about to be evicted and is reeling from the loss of her daughter she gave up for adoption as well as the death of her best friend Lana, who was murdered 4 years ago.  She trusts no one, but has made a friend in one of her employers.  She is burning the candle at both ends working several jobs to make ends meet and failing miserably.  Then, just when things can't possibly get any worse, she arrives to friends home to work and instead of a cheerful greeting, she is met instead by her dead body.

Then, Lana's husband, Nick, receives a letter "I killed your wife......again."  Nick and Jaymee are reunited in sorrow and begin the hunt for the killer.  What they find is that it is Jaymee's adoption, 7 years earlier, that is the root of all evil.  Together they encounter more twists and turns in the search for the killer; all the while, unknowingly falling in love.

This was quite a ride and a fantastic read from an emerging new author.  Thank you Stacy Green for a wonderful, suspense filled book.

I highly recommend you check this out.

Stay tuned for my Tin God, I meant Chocolate God Cupcake recipe.  These are so good, they truly are to die for!!