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!!

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!!