Thursday, February 28, 2013

Let's Get Baked...Alaska that is!

Josi Kilpack's new book Baked Alaska is out and I have an author's signed copy to give away!

As usual, it'll cost you a recipe to earn it!

For Tres Leches I had a cookie contest. Baked Alaska takes place on an Alaskan cruise. Reason says I should run an ice cream recipe contest as the dessert Baked Alaska is after all a baked ice cream dessert. Unfortunately, I don't own an ice cream maker.

So, I thought perhaps it should be a baked contest given the title. But I'm going to take it one step further. My favorite recipe in this book is the pasta one. So we're going to do a mash up.

Send your favorite baked pasta recipe to the e-mail address above, or in the comments below, or via Authors Incognito, or FB (I'll accept them all. See how easy I'm making this for you?) by midnight Wed. March 6th. (I tend to do my shopping on Thursdays so I need to be able to make the list of ingredients.)

Avoid the following: all seafood (we have allergies here, yes even to the canned tuna), mushrooms, and peas. Other than that, I think we're good.

I'll take two weeks to make the entries and announce the winner here on my blog on Thu. March 21st. As well as my review of Baked Alaska. The book will go in the mail the next day before I head out for spring break. (Then you'll have a great read for your spring break.)

Here's the blurb for Baked Alaska and let the baking begin!

An Alaskan cruise is the setting for amateur detective Sadie Hoffmillers latest adventure. Sadie plans to spend time relaxing with her two grown children, Breanna and Shawn, and her boyfriend, Pete, while enjoying the luxury and cuisine of an elegant cruise ship and helping to plan her daughters upcoming wedding. But even as the crew prepares to leave port, Sadie has suspicions about the voyage ahead and the relationship between her normally easygoing son and a mysterious female passenger he obviously knows but refuses to discuss. When the woman is discovered unconscious during the second night at sea, Sadies apprehension escalates. Over the last few years, Sadie has developed an extreme dislike for secrets and it would seem her son is keeping one from her. *Includes eight new mouthwatering recipes, tested and approved by the official bakers of Sadies Virtual Test Kitchen.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Safe Haven

I'm reviewing the movie Safe Haven not the book. I haven't read the book. I can only read so many Nicholas Sparks books. Not because he's not a good writer, but someone always dies at the end and he's not above killing off one of the two main love interests and I prefer a happily ever after ending. (What can I say? I'm a Cinderella girl.)

The movie is exactly what you expect. Boy and girl meet with complicated pasts, still dragging baggage around both physical and emotional that they must overcome in order to be together. Oh, and someone will end up dead. No spoilers here.

I liked the setting and characters. No issues with the acting. I thought both Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough turned in nice performances as did Cobie Smulders. The guy playing the villain was totally psychotic. If he ever shows up at your door. Run.

Warnings: This one is cleaner in terms of kisses than The Lucky One. Domestic violence, hand to hand combat, gun play, a deceased spouse and a fire.
I mention this last one because recently a family in our town lost two young children when their house went up in flames. They were all asleep in the home when it happened. The parents and two other children made it out, barely. So, this is my plug to remind you to test your alarms regularly and have a plan for escape from everywhere.

My one issue has to do with the story itself. When the hero finds out the heroine didn't tell him about her past, he tells her to leave but then runs after her to tell her to stay and that he loves her. The I love you's came to early in the relationship for me and I felt like the hero should be bothered by the fact that she's still married.

Recommendation: Catch it on Redbox.

For all you Sparks fans out there, what's your favorite book by him?
Mine is The Wedding.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Nicholas Flamel

Did that get your attention? It probably did if you're a Harry Potter reader.

Well, then, the next question is ... Who is Nicholas Flamel? And what series can I read that will tell me all about him?

Answer: the series starring NF by Michael Scott starting with The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel

The reference to HP ends at the title in terms of the books.

I just finished the sixth and last book in this YA series, The Enchantress. It took me a while to read through the series because I had to keep waiting for the next book to come out! The series began in 2007. You, dear reader, will have the advantage of reading all six books in a row. And really, it is a pleasure to be able to read a series straight through. I think that's why my daughter keeps rereading Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. (Not to mention the incredible writing!)

Speaking of writing, Michael Scott does a masterful job of weaving multiple story lines across thousands of years and tons of characters. (I can't even imagine what his storyboard looked like or spreadsheet or notebook or whatever method he used to keep track of them. It was challenging at times to keep up with it as a reader.) You know that extensive background in mythology and folklore was essential to his writing these books. I learned loads about 'historical' names from reading his books. This is a lot more comprehensive than just, 'oh that's the Greek name for that Roman god' type of thing. But he does it in such a way that you won't get lost! Amazing!

Just keep up with Sophie & Josh, Nicholas & Perenelle, and Dee & Rachel and you should be pretty good.

There is all kinds of stuff packed into these action paced novels: Shadowrealms, Earth Lords, Archons, Elders, Next Generation (nothing to do with Star Trek) and Atlantis (fondly referred to as Danu Talis in the books). You have alchemy, necromancy, sorcery, flying ships (like saucers), leygates, creatures/monsters I can't even begin to describe, mermaids, etc. I think you get the idea here.

These books are clean in terms of language and romance. There is violence and death. Keep in mind the world, all its races both past and present, etc are hanging in the balance, so you know, people are going to die. I would say these are on the older side of YA not the younger. Perhaps its not so far from HP after all.

So, there you go. Happy Valentines Day. I didn't review a romance (that was last week and judging by the lack of response, no one wanted to hear anymore about romance this month). I think this series would be awesome on film. But then I think that about most everything I read. Below is the blurb for the first book.

Do you have a good YA series with magic that you recommend?

He holds the secret that can end the world.

The truth: Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on September 28, 1330. Nearly 700 years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest Alchemyst of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life.

The records show that he died in 1418.

But his tomb is empty.

The legend: Nicholas Flamel lives. But only because he has been making the elixir of life for centuries. The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protects—the Book of Abraham the Mage. It's the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. That's exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. Humankind won't know what's happening until it's too late. And if the prophecy is right, Sophie and Josh Newman are the only ones with the power to save the world as we know it.

Sometimes legends are true.

And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time.

Friday, February 8, 2013

From Notting Hill With Love . . . Actually

From Notting Hill With Love . . . Actually by Ali McNamara

She was a girl, standing in front of a boy...

Movie fanatic Scarlett O'Brien dreams of a life as glamorous and romantic as all the big screen flicks she worships. When a chance house-sitting job in iconic Notting Hill comes along, she knows living in one of her favorite movie settings is an opportunity too good to pass up.

Leaving behind her skeptical friends, family, and fiance, Scarlett heads to London and finds herself thrust into the lead role of her very own romantic comedy. But can real life ever be just like the movies? Larger-than-life new friends, a handsome but irksome new neighbor, and a mystery from her past may prove to Scarlett that living her life like a RomCom is more complicated than she thought!

That's the blurb on the back that easily persuaded me to download and read this Free Friday book at B & N. And it doesn't disappoint!

I started laughing a few pages in, mostly because I totally get Scarlett. She's a movie fanatic and I have a healthy love of the movies as well. I loved all the movie references throughout the book and her attempts to recreate movie scenes throughout the novel. The author did a great job weaving Scarlett's fantasies into her real life without making the reader guess which one we were in - the fantasy and reality. I loved how she kept me guessing until the end which one of the men in Scarlett's life she was going to end up with at the end, although I was secretly hoping it was Sean ever step of the way. But, no spoilers here. You'll have to read it to find out!

Also, I loved that it's set in London and presumably written by a Brit. The language they use is half the fun!

This is a clean romance. (Sigh of relief! You never know with a free book.) No uncomfortable love scenes or language in this one, so grab a copy and get reading! You should note there's a map of Notting Hill in the back of the book to help you follow along and some fun stuff after the story ends.  It's witty, fun and a page turning read.

Here's the link to Amazon.

I'll be reading this one again! And looking forward to down loading her other books as well.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to find a copy of Notting Hill to watch!

Do you have a good RomCom book to recommend?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Halloween in February: Hotel Transylvania & Frankenweenie

New on Blu: Hotel Transylvania & Frankenweenie

We had a Halloween themed weekend and here are my reviews.

Hotel Transyslvania:
A cute watch. The monsters didn't scare my four year old, like I'd been concerned about. He took them as par for the course in a film about a hotel for monsters. Easy predictable storyline and not as Sandler as other Adam Sandler movies go, although there is the token ukulele song at the beginning. The story is focused on the father daughter relationship and how that has to change as the daughter enters the age of independence and adulthood and her first romance with (gasp) a human! There were two scenes that got good parental laughs from my hubby and I. A cute watch with your kids but not one you have to own. Just RedBox it.

This one we didn't watch with our kids. And it only gets half a review because I only watched half the movie. I fell asleep on and off. The black and white didn't bother me, but I was sleep deprived and coming close to getting a cold, thus the lack of attention. Plus, if you own the deluxe version of The Nightmare Before Christmas, it has the live action short of Frankenweenie Tim Burton did years ago. This movie has been a project of his since he was a kid. So, while a few of the elements changed, the basic storyline was the same. They brought back several of the original characters to be the voices, which I liked, but wondered what happened to Daniel Stern? Like Tim Burton, then watch away, but also on RedBox.

What did you watch this weekend? (Besides the Superbowl I mean)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Happy Dance Announcement! READ!

I finished writing Ring On Her Finger!!! Happy Dance time!

And it only took me three months!!! (Compared to the three + years I've been writing and editing Fallen Angel. There's such a learning curve with the first one!)

Thanks to NanoWriMo! And she sits at about 85,000 words so I won't have to do much chopping like I have with Fallen Angel which I'm still cutting down to get it to a publishable length!

I hope with editing and beta reading to have it ready to go for querying in June. That now makes two completed novels under my belt.

So take a moment to read the blurb for Ring On Her Finger below and then do a happy dance for me/with me! And then leave me a note to share something you've accomplished this week (even if it was just scrubbing the toilet!).

It's been a great week in Las Vegas celebrating college graduation with her friends for Amanda St.Claire. But when she wakes up on the last morning with a terrible hangover she realizes she's also made a horrible mistake. She accidentally married rich playboy Blake Worthington, the one guy she cannot stand and has loathed the past four years. Amanda convinces Blake to get the marriage legally terminated and goes home as if it never happened, But when Blake gets thrown out of his family and shows up on her doorstep Amanda must admit her mistake to her family. Thrown together for better or worse until the legalities are cleared Amanda must play along until she can escape to her new job as a nurse in Africa. The danger is she just may do the one thing she thought she never would...fall in love with Blake Worthington!