Thursday, May 31, 2012

Jennifer's Garden

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Jennifer’s Garden
By Dianne Venetta
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction
Sensuality: Mild
Rating: Highly Recommended
Fun Tidbit:  Jennifer's Garden has been nominated for an Indie Award!
In her debut novel, Dianne Venetta brings a cast of wonderful and intriguing characters to life by giving them emotional connections the reader can relate too.  Cardiologist, Jennifer Hamilton’s time is like sand in an hourglass, she doesn’t have much and it’s moving quickly.  Her dying mother’s last wish gives Jennifer a short window of time to create a beautiful garden out of her empty backyard.  Fulfilling her mother’s dream to see her married means Jennifer has to rely on a skilled landscaper to make sure the wish comes true, for better or worse.
Unfortunately Jennifer’s plans are slightly derailed when her landscaper, who came highly recommended, turns out to be a bartender who both infuriates and arouses her at the same time.  Suddenly Jennifer’s oh-so-perfect reasons for marrying are becoming rather imperfect and stifling.  It turns out Jennifer has a lot to learn about love and Jackson Montgomery seems to be the person to teach her.  But, will she fulfill her mother’s last wish or risk it all in the name of love?

It's no surprise Jennifer's Garden is nominated for an Indie Award!  With an average rating of 4.5 stars by reader's and a 5 star review by the Indie judging panel, Jennifer's Garden is a book you won't want to miss. In a perfect mix of reality, emotion and romance, author Dianne Venetta brings a touching story, full of heat and enticing characters.  Though there are moments when the characters will make your blood boil, in more ways than one, the overall cast is wonderfully done and very well developed.  I loved it!  I wold read it again and instantly picked up Lust on the Rocks, the second book in the series, and dug right in.  This one is highly recommended to all you romance and women's fiction lovers!  If you haven't read either this book is a great place to start.
(Bloominthyme Press, 2011, 139 pp., $14.99)

The Secrets of Mary Bowser

Pin ItThe Secrets of Mary Bowser The Secrets of Mary Bowser
Author: Louis Leveen
ISBN: 978-0-06210790-9
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: TLC Book Tours
Based on a true story, the secrets of Mary Bowser is an amazing story of remarkable woman.  Mary Bowser, who was born into slavery, was sent to Philadelphia for schooling by her owner Bet Van Lew – who doesn’t believe in slavery. Mary’s mother is less than thrilled with the idea, at first, because her family is already separated.  May’s parents are owned by different families and therefore do not reside under the same roof.  Mary’s father speaks on her behalf, pointing out Mary’s ability to be free and live life slavery doesn’t allow for.  So, with the permission of her parents, Mary is sent to Philadelphia.
Mary’s world is opened wide by her time in Philadelphia.  She makes true friends who led her to heroic destiny.  While working to help free slaves, Mary gets notification of her father’s decline.  Determined to spend the rest of the time he has left with him, Mary moves back to fight slavery from the other side.  Now a spy in enemy territory, Mary risks her life so that others can have freedom.
I LOVE historical fiction, specifically stories about the Civil War.  There is so much emotion within this book.  It was difficult to read at times due to the sheer horrors of slavery and the mistreatment of people.  This story is exquisitely written and tells a tale you won’t soon forget.  It amazes me how some of the human race can do nothing for anyone and others put their lives at stake, risking all for the sake of others.  I was hooked from the beginning of this story and highly suggest it to others who love stories based on true stories.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Summer Days, Summer Nights and baby, All Summer Long!

Susan Mallery is back with her newest Fool's Gold trilogy and this one is all about Cowboys!  If you didn't think things in Fool's Gold were steamy enough yet, your about to find out what steamy is all about.  The first hot book of the summer has released!  Get your copy of Summer Days (Description below) and join the conversation!  Leave a comment letting me know you've pre-ordered, bought or plan to buy after reading this post!  I'd love to send you the matching bookmark! 

SUMMER DAYS (Fool’s Gold book 7) is available now!

The rugged Stryker brothers are about to ride into town, and Fool’s Gold
may never be the same again. I am so excited to return to my favorite town
and to introduce you to three gorgeous heroes who embody everything I love
about cowboys. The Stryker men are strong, loyal, protective, and sexy!
Fool’s Gold is a unique place, and these cowboy romances are filled with
the humor you’ve come to expect from stories set in the Land of Happy

You’ve already met the women who will bring these tough men to their knees.
Heidi the Goat Girl, Annabelle the Librarian, and Charlie the Firefighter
are three best friends destined to become family. What could be better than

SUMMER DAYS – In stores now!

Buy from Amazon:

Buy from B&N:

The Castle Ranch where he grew up is the last place Rafe Stryker ever
wanted to return, but to protect his family, he will go anywhere and take
on anyone – even a scam artist like vivacious Heidi Simpson, a woman whose
smile is so bright he can see it in his dreams.

Sign up for Susan Mallery's newsletter & join the members only area:

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Beyond the Review

I love to feature a wide variety of content on my site.  While most of it is reviews, I like to post interviews, guest post, fun facts, neat finds and book trailers!  Hope you enjoy this one.

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Place to Belong.. Music Review

*CD provided by B&B Media Group in exchange for my honest review.  All statements are my own*

A Place to Belong, Circle of Friends, is a wonderful CD.  It was relaxing, invigorating and soft.  I often listen to this particular CD while taking a bath, falling asleep or in need of quiet time.  The songs are wholesome and encouraging.  I don't have to worry about listening to this CD in front of my children. If your a fan of soft, relaxing music or you enjoy spiritually based songs, this CD is for you.

Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop

Enter to win one of two amazing prizes! 

Up for grabs is an e-copy of Jennifer's Garden 

and an e-copy of Lust on The Rocks by Dianne Venetta!

Use the rafflecopter form below to enter!

**Both Copies have been donated by Dianne!  Visit to show your thanks!**

Thursday, May 24, 2012

In The Bag

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Author: Kate Klise
Publisher:William Morrow
ISBN: 978-0-06-210805-0
Source: TLC Book Tours
Rating:  Highly Recommended

About the Book:
A successful chef and single mother, Daisy Sprinkle is on vacation with her teenage daughter, Coco, who picks up the wrong duffel bag at the airport.  The situation is not improved by the note Daisy finds tucked into her carry-on, apparently from the man in 13-C.

Andrew doesn't know what possessed him to do something like that.  Hitting on strange women on airplanes is definitely not his typical style. But there was something about the woman in 6-B that could not be ignored, and his son, Webb, seems to have made off with a budding fashionista's luggage.

Both parents try to make the best of a bad situation, but little do Daisy and Andrew know that the teens are making their own that will ultimately reunite Ms. 6-B and Mr. 13-C.

My Thoughts: 
In a round-a-bout way this story reminded me of the movie "The Parent Trap", which has always been one of my favorites.  The idea of the wrong luggage being taken is totally believable and highly possible considering the popularity of air travel today.  It was fun to read about this set of characters and the predicament they find themselves in.  I laughed from the very beginning.  I also felt horrible for Coco.  Imagine finding yourself in Paris with boys clothing!  No one wants that.  My favorite aspect of this novel is its unique storyline.  I haven't read anything like this in quite awhile.  I loved the settings, it was as if I traveled to Paris and Madrid without really going, which is perfect for me.  The plot, characters and setting make this book a great read.  It's everything I love about reading.  It's an escape, an adventure, a mystery and a whole lot of fun.  If your looking for something different to read on the beach this summer, you'll want to pick up a copy of In the Bag.

kate kliseAbout the Author:
As a correspondent for People magazine, Kate Klise covered everything from celebrity scandals to serial killers. After writing several bestselling children’s books, Kate decided to write In the Bag, her first novel for adults, when she found a note from a fellow passenger in her carry-on bag.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Fabulous Fiction: May Edition

The Song Remains the Same

The Song Remains the Same

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Allison Winn Scotch
ISBN: 0399157581
Putnam Publishing
Source: BookSparks PR
Rating: Highly Recommended

About the Book:
One of only two survivors of a plane crash, Nell Slattery wakes in the hospital with no memory of the horrific experience-or who she is, or was. Now she must piece together both body and mind, with the help of family and friends, who have their own agendas. She filters through photos, art, music, and stories, hoping something will jog her memory, and soon, in tiny bits and pieces, Nell starts remembering. . . .

It isn't long before she learns to question the stories presented by her mother, her sister and business partner, and her husband. In the end, she will discover that forgiving betrayals small and large will be the only true path to healing herself-and to finding happiness.

My Thoughts:
I am keeping my thoughts short because I want you all to read Allison's answer to my question regarding what this book means to her.  I think it really helps tie in the emotion and effort that went into this book, which make it so great.  Since I have an eternal fear of plane crashes, this one was, at first, difficult for me to start reading but quickly became an engrossing story that swept me away with it's beautifully developed characters and realistic events.  I find the idea of loosing your memory and then regaining it to be one of the most interesting components in this book because it ultimately changes her life.  It is like starting over, starting fresh and seeing the world through a whole new set of eyes.  The person you were before is a mystery and the person you are now is a work in progress.  To say the least, this is one of my favorites by Allison and I suggest you read it too!  Enjoy the answer Allison has for my question below!

What Does This Book Mean to You?

Wow! What a great question. And there are a few ways to answer it. First, as an author, I think I'm more proud of this book than any other I've written. I really try, every single time, to push myself to improve my work and make myself a stronger writer, and I do feel like (thanks to a fantastic editor who forced me to dig deeper!) this book is the best thing I've ever written. Yes, even we authors play favorites with our own stuff, and we (usually) can tell when something's not up to snuff. :) But this one? Well, I'd fight for it any day of the week. (And on Sundays.) Also, I really struggled to write my third book (the one before SONG REMAINS THE SAME). But SONG reminded me of what I love so much about both writing and storytelling – sure, it was hard work to write, but it was also lovely work, something I looked forward to almost every day. And that reminder was really important, almost revitalizing for me. If I hadn't rediscovered that passion with SONG, I don't know how many more books I would have in me. So I'm grateful to SONG for what it rekindled.

From a different perspective, the book also meant that I spent a year considering my life choices, and if I'd have made those same choices if my memory, my history, had been erased. What enriching (if not exhausting!) exploration! But a good one all the same. I'm a big fan of stepping back and trying to make small tweaks in my life that can lead to greater happiness. You don't have to make drastic changes to really rejigger things. A few shifts here and there over the course of time really can add up. So while figuring out how Nell would deal with amnesia and her reaction to a totally clean slate, I got to consider my own clean slate…and make adjustments when necessary. For me, I gained the perspective that I wanted to lead a more balanced life. That, if I woke up with no memory of what came before, that I'd still probably choose to hang out with my kids over anyone else. So why wasn't I spending more time with them if that's what I really love to do most? I downshifted my work schedule, I prioritized them more, and I made a point to be less wrapped up in work success because at the end of the day, I simply didn't care enough. (I don't mean to imply that I don't care about professional achievement! Only that I came to realize that if given the choice, I'd choose family achievement without a second thought.) So while examining my character's choices, I also examined my own. And that is and was invaluable. And I hope the book does much the same for readers. That's the whole point of a novel, in my opinion: to take readers on a journey and hope that by the very last page, they've learned something not just about the heroine, but about themselves as well.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Everyday Celebrations

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(Family Features)

From the first loose tooth or solo bike ride to game night at home, families know that everyday moments make life special.
Spending time in the kitchen together is a great way for families to make memories while making some sweet treats. Here are tips for getting everyone involved in the fun:
  • Review the recipe and various prep steps with your helpers ahead of time so they know what to expect and what needs to be done.
  • Before cooking, set up a safe work area by removing anything not needed in the recipe.
  • Have everyone protect their clothing with aprons or old shirts with the sleeves rolled up.
  • For novice bakers, demonstrate how to carefully measure ingredients, then have them double check before adding. This is a great time to reinforce math skills while having fun.
  • Make damp sponges and cloths readily available to clean up as you go.
  • Take turns putting your own unique spin on the recipe. If you're baking cookies, let someone choose between adding chocolate chips, raisins or nuts. If you're baking cupcakes, give your bakers the option to customize their creations with Pillsbury® Easy Frosttm No-Fuss Frosting. It's a great way to foster creativity and have fun.
  • Start a "keepsake recipe box" for all your bakers so they can keep track of favorite family recipes.
Because everyone loves an excuse to bake their favorite treats, here are some ways you can turn an ordinary day into an extraordinary one:

Rainy Day Brownie Pops - Celebrate a rainy day by whipping up a batch of Dark Chocolate Brownies according to box directions and let cool completely. Heat 1/4 cup chocolate frosting on high in microwave. Coarsely crumble brownies over frosting and gently mix together. Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls and place on prepared baking sheet. Insert a lollipop stick into the center of each ball. Freeze for 30 minutes and then dip brownie pops into melted chocolate and your favorite sprinkles.

School Day Sandwich Cookies - Make the school day special by tucking a sandwich cookie into the lunch box. Start by making a batch of Pillsbury Chocolate Chip or Sugar Cookies according to package directions and let cool. Turn half the cookies bottom-side up. Using your favorite Pillsbury Easy Frost No-Fuss Frosting, point the five-star frosting tip straight down at the edge of a cookie. Press gently to form a star. Repeat stars to cover cookie. Top with another cookie, sprinkle-side up, to form a sandwich cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies.

Get more fun baking tips and recipes by visiting or


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Herb Basics

Check out Cook's Corner for the newest post.... Herb Basics!  Happy Cooking!


About the Author

CD Harper retired as the Executive Director of the Harriet and Charles Luckman Fine Arts Complex and professor of Theatre Arts and Dance at California State University, Los Angeles. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois and St Louis University. He resides in Gleneden Beach, Oregon.

About the Book

Imagine a life engulfed by a Civil War that will change everything about the world as you know it, the one your daddy built for you and your son and your son’s son and on into perpetuity, a world built on the promises of slavery but compromised by the ideals of a new nation.

In 1863 Seth Hunter Junior, heir to the Covenant Plantation, is caught between the traditional Southern plantation life and the new life brought on by the Civil War and his love for Sandy, his slave, a gift from his daddy.

Sandy assumes the role of mistress of Covenant Plantation and is treated as if she is more than his slave. Their love for each other is strong and resilient. But when Seth Junior tells Sandy he is marrying a woman who can provide a proper male heir, she explodes. What is their son, if not an heir? What will become of her? This is the impetus, along with the War, that forces Seth Junior and Sandy to face a new world. In this compelling historical novel Seth Hunter Junior and his slave, Sandy, learn the limits to their humanity and the power of a new nation’s will.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Hot Under Pressure

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Author: Louisa Edwards
ISBN: 978-0-312-53440-0
Publisher: St. Martin’s
Source: BookPleasures

The heat is on and the stakes are high for chef’s Skye Gladwell and Henry Beck, finalist in the Rising Star Chef competition. While both aim to take the title of Rising Star, the competition holds a more personal meaning for both. With a bet on the table and everything at risk, Skye and Henry are finally head to head, fighting for everything they have ever wanted, even if they don’t know it yet.

Skye grew up under the shadow of the Golden Gate, a child of free loving parents whose opinions of her every move were negative and unsatisfactory. From the moment Skye met Henry Beck, she was intrigued and drawn to him like a magnet to a fridge. Their marriage was hot and exciting until Sky falls pregnant and Henry leaves.

Henry has a past he wishes he could forget and a future he wishes he could secure. When Henry met Skye his life changed, though his closed off nature remained. When Skye becomes pregnant, Henry knows he has a family he has to take care of and he intends to do just that. Arguing that there is no other way, Henry leaves Skye alone in California and joins the Navy, sending monthly support checks her way.

Unfortunately, circumstances because both parties to stay separated and now, ten years later, Henry and Skye find themselves face to face, unable to avoid the mounting tension between them. With a deep emotional past to hash out and a cooking competition at stake, Henry and Skye battle with every last bit of energy left in them, each hoping the outcome tips the scales to their side.

Hot Under Pressure is an emotionally fast paced novel that will keep you turning the pages once you get about a third of the way in. The first part of the book builds the story and lays a foundation for the pages that follow. While intriguing, it’s not quite as seductive as the rest of the novel. I enjoyed the characters in this book. Both are flawed and hurt. Both have a past that hasn’t made their life easy and they both have a lot to still learn about each other. Under the guise of cooking, these chefs duke out everything between them both in and out of the kitchen. The pressure of the competition sure heats up these two stars, especially when they get together.

My only complaint about the book, is the ending. I was left hanging. This one could have used an epilogue to help wrap up a few of the storylines and give the reader a bit more closure. Aside from wanting a little more to satisfy me, the story was wonderful. True to her style, Louisa Edwards has produced another fabulous romance, mixing cooking with emotions and a little bit of sex.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Serve a Salad Kids Will Flip For

Fruit and Yogurt Elbow Salad

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(Family Features)

A refreshing salad should be quick, easy, and full of delicious in-season produce. With its countless possibilities for add-ins, a fruit and pasta salad fits the bill perfectly as a dish the whole family will love to prepare and eat.

Mom or Dad will need to start things off by cooking the pasta according to package directions. Preparing this recipe with Dreamfields pasta provides added nutrition benefits parents will love and kids won't even notice. Made from durum wheat semolina, Dreamfields has the same taste and texture as traditional pasta but with 5 grams of fiber and only 5 grams of digestible carbohydrates per 1-cup cooked serving.

While the pasta cooks, enlist the kids to create the dressing - a creamy mix of yogurt, honey and a dash of cinnamon - and choose favorite fruits for the salad. A colorful combination of the season's freshest fruits like sweet, delicious blueberries, kiwi, peaches and strawberries, paired with a refreshing hint of mint, makes this simple-to-fix salad really come together.

Kids can help toss the pasta, fruit, mint and dressing together in a large bowl and sprinkle with almonds for a little crunch. This bright and flavorful pasta salad - perfect for potlucks, picnics or even a lazy summer breakfast - is anything but ordinary.

For more pasta salad recipes and directions on how to submit your own original recipe for a chance to win a case of Dreamfields in the Second Annual Pastapalooza Pasta Salad Contest, visit

Fruit and Yogurt Elbow Salad


  • 1 box Dreamfields Elbows
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat vanilla or Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 cups fruit (apples, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, grapes, kiwi, etc. cut into bite-size pieces)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (optional)
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Rinse with cold water; drain again. Place in large bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, stir together yogurt, honey and cinnamon. Toss with elbows. Add fruit and mint, if desired; toss gently to combine. Sprinkle with almonds. Refrigerate leftovers, covered, up to 1 day. (Let stand at room temperature 10 to 15 minutes before serving if refrigerated.)

8 to 10 servings

Total Fat:

Preparation Time:
20 minutes

Cook Time:
8 minutes

Dreamfields Pasta

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Which corner will you visit first?

Mom's Corner & Cooks Corner both have new post!  Check out the content...

Mom's Corner: Keeping the Kids Happy on the Go!

Cook's Corner: Festive Fiesta!

To view these articles click on the corresponding tab above.  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


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About the Book:

Baroness – Book Two in the Daughters of Fortune series

Lily and Rose, daughters of an empire coming of age in the roaring twenties, can have anything they want ... except freedom.

Expected to marry well and to take the reins of the empire, they have their lives planned out for them. But, Lily, Esme's daughter longs to return home to Montana, to adventure outside the confines of New York City. And Jinx's daughter Rosie dreams of the bright lights of the newly emerging silver screen. But following their dreams - from avant garde France, to Broadway, to the skies in the world of barnstormers and wing-walkers will take all their courage.

And if they find love, will they choose freedom or happily ever after?

Find out more from Behind the Pages: 

About the Author:

Susan May Warren is the RITA award-winning novelist of over thirty novels. A five-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Carol Award.

A seasoned women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!. 

She is also the founder of, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice. You can find her online at

My Thoughts:

If you've read book one in the series, Baroness is a must read. Not only is the book set in a period of glamour and excitement, it features women of worth who realize money isn't everything. Baroness takes a look at the effects of choices.  Both Lily and Rose have the same options and future in front of them, but choose different paths.  Their choices alter their lives dramatically.  Both women are awakened to facts of life they weren't ready for.  Simply put, choices effect us all and these women discover the joy of a well made choice.

I enjoyed the storyline in this book.  Everyone wishes for their life to be different in some way.  Most people want to expierence it all or expierence something new.  Both of these thought processes are explored with these two sisters.  I feel like the 1920's was a glamorous time period, full of hope and expectations and this book mirrored that.  The characters are so different from each other, yet alike in many ways.  Most readers will be able to connect with one or the other.

If you like Susan's writing you'll be happy with this book.  If you've never read anything by Susan there is no time like the present to start!

Buy the Book: 

Recommended Read

A Cozy Reader's Corner