Monday, March 2, 2015

Giveaway: The Snow Globe by Judith Kinghorn

About The Snow Globe: Inside the glass orb was a miniature garden and a house. If she stared long enough, she could almost see the people inside. But whether they were trapped there, or kept safe, in that miniscule snowbound world, she couldn't have said...

Christmas 1926 holds bright promise for nineteen-year-old Daisy Forbes, with celebrations under way at Eden Hall, her family's country estate in Surrey, England. But when Daisy, the youngest of three daughters, discovers that her adored father, Howard, has been leading a double life, her illusions of perfection are shattered. Worse, his current mistress, introduced as a family friend, is joining them for the holidays. As Daisy wrestles with the truth, she blossoms in her own right, receiving a marriage proposal from one man, a declaration of love from another, and her first kiss from a third. Meanwhile, her mother, Mabel, manages these social complications with outward calm, while privately reviewing her life and contemplating significant changes. And among those below stairs, Nancy, the housekeeper, and Mrs. Jessops, the cook, find that their long-held secrets are slowly beginning to surface...

As the seasons unfold in the new year, and Daisy moves to London, desires, fortunes, and loyalties will shift during this tumultuous time after the Great War. The Forbes family and those who serve them will follow their hearts down unexpected paths that always return to where they began...Eden Hall.


One copy for a US resident! Giveaway ends March 15th. Just fill out the form below to enter.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Deep by Nick Cutter

Horror novels, yay!

I feel like The Deep is a perfect example of how horror novels play on our actual real life fears. Like, sure there are monsters, but also there are REAL fears. And in this book, I feel like those fears set the stage for the awful things to come.

Because the story starts in a world where people are forgetting. No one knows why, but a disease is spreading that causes everyone to forget. Is this not the worst thing that could happen to us? Our memories form our identity! There seems to be a possible solution, but it's buried at the bottom of the ocean. And that's where our story starts--as a man descends to check on his brilliant scientist brother after it appears things have gone wrong.

But he seems to have the opposite problem as he descends as the problem plaguing the world. He starts to remember things and to retreat into those memories. And his memories are hard memories, deeply painful ones, things he'd rather forget.

When they get to the station at the bottom of the sea, a lot awaits them. Things are unraveling, and it's unclear who is in control--the scientists or the substance they've found? Will they be able to face their demons and save mankind?

This book is...well it's like a lot of horror books in that it builds really effectively. I was completely gripped by the story and turning the pages and feeling the dread and the oppression of the water the dread of being trapped with my worst memories.'s also a horror story in that the conclusion just can't quite pay it off.

Having said that, I still liked it so much and recommend it to fans of horror! Warning though: the book did actually make me cry in a small paragraph about euthanizing shelter animals and there is other animal abuse in the book. I think having spent the day in the horrific world of the book, I was perfectly primed to cry but it still surprised me!

Recommended for fans of horror. (some violence, language, and sexual explict scenes, though)

*I received a review copy from the publisher.


Monday, February 23, 2015

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

It's possible for bad things to happen in life, things that are so bad you want to remake your identity and leave behind everyone you have ever loved. Grief is powerful. That's the premise behind Tina Seskis's One Step Too Far...Emily has left behind her family to try to figure out how to live in the wake of her grief and horror over what her life has become.

The books alternates between Emily's history and her present as her newly made life unravels much as her old life did.

Whenever you read this kind of book, there's always the worry that "the secret" cannot possibly be bad enough to justify all the behavior and build-up that leads to it. And I did think there was just a tiny bit of deception at play in this one in order to preserve the reveal. I won't go specifically into what it was as I don't want to spoil anything, but that did irritate me slightly.

But I actually did think the secret when revealed was pretty awful. It's the sort of thing that on the surface of it feels unforgiveable but deep down maybe we see exactly how it could have happened. And that closeness is terrifying in its own way.

The book stayed with me long after I finished it. Recommended.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

New Uses for Old Boyfriends by Beth Kendrick: Spotlight and Giveaway

About the Book: After growing up in privilege and marrying into money, Lila Alders has gotten used to the good life. But when her happily-ever-after implodes, Lila must return to Black Dog Bay, the tiny seaside town where she grew up. She’s desperate for a safe haven, but everything has changed over the past ten years. Her family’s fortune is gone—and her mother is in total denial. It’s up to Lila to take care of everything...but she can barely take care of herself.

The former golden girl of Black Dog Bay struggles to reinvent herself by opening a vintage clothing boutique. But even as Lila finds new purpose for outdated dresses and tries to reunite with her ex, she realizes that sometimes it’s too late for old dreams. She’s lost everything she thought she needed but found something—someone—she desperately wants. A boy she hardly noticed has grown up into a man she can’t forget...and a second chance has never felt so much like first love.


One winner, resident of the United States. Will be notified via email. Giveaway closes February 23.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Celebrating Chinese New Year with Kids + Giveaway!

It's the Year of the Sheep!

To celebrate Chinese New Year's with kids, I have a fun recipe to share with you and a book giveaway!

This recipe for New Year Dumplings is provided by the China Institute.

Dumplings, called jiaozi in Mandarin, have been popular in China for hundreds of years. They’re especially popular on Chinese New Year.

This year, Chinese New Year starts on February 19. We will be moving from the Year of the Horse to the Year of the Sheep. What better way to celebrate than to make your own
dumplings! The recipe below is for a traditional pork and chive filling, but the great thing about dumplings is that you can make all sorts of different fillings.


Dumpling (jiaozi) Dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour 
1 1/4 cups cold water 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
Pork & Chive Filling:
1 cup ground pork (can also use beef)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
3 Tablespoon sesame oil

1/2 green onion, finely minced
1 1/2 cups finely shredded Napa cabbage
4 Tablespoons shredded bamboo shoots
2 slices fresh ginger, finely minced

1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced


Stir the salt into the flour. Slowly stir in the cold water, adding as much as is necessary to create a smooth dough. Don't add more water than is necessary. Knead the dough into a smooth ball. Cover the dough and let it rest for at least 3 minutes.

While the dough is resting, prepare the filling ingredients. Add the soy sauce, salt, rice wine, and white pepper to the meat, stirring in one direction. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring in the same direction, and mix well.

Now, prepare the dough for the dumplings. First knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball. Divide the dough into 60 pieces. Roll each piece out into a circle about 3-inches in diameter to create the dumpling wrappers.

Place a portion (about 1 Tablespoon) of the filling into the middle of each dumpling wrapper. Wet the edges of the dumpling with water. Fold the dough over the filling into a half moon shape and pinch the edges to seal. Continue with the remainder of the dumpling wrappers.

To cook the dumplings, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add half the dumplings, giving them a gentle stir so they don't stick together. Bring the water to a boil, and add 1/2 cup of cold water. Cover and repeat. When the dumplings come to a boil for a third time, they are ready. Drain and remove. If you want, they can be pan-fried at this point. Repeat this process for the second half of dumplings.

Post a photo of your dumplings to China Institute’s Facebook page at The chef of the yummiest looking batch will receive a free copy of their We All Live in the Forbidden City books!


Enter for a chance to win one of two books:

About the Book:

Ages 9 and up
Chiu Kwong-chiu, author
Design and Cultural Studies Workshop, design and illustrations
Ben Wang, translator; Nancy S. Steinhardt, editor

Serving as the seat of imperial power for six centuries,the Forbidden City is one of China’s most famous and enigmatic landmarks. Accompanied by a mischievous cat, readers will tour this colossal architectural structure, discovering the secrets hidden inside the palace walls. They will encounter the people who have walked through its halls and gardens, including emperors, empresses, and rebel leaders, and hear exciting tales about the power struggles and intrigues of everyday life. This large format book conveys the grandeur of the Forbidden City through highly detailed line drawings of its buildings, gardens, and courtyards with numerous foldout spreads. Each page is populated by a large variety
of characters and peppered with entertaining anecdotes. Every book includes a plastic magnifying glass for looking at the drawings more closely.

About the Book:

Brian Tse, author
Alice Mak, illustrator Ben Wang, translator; Nancy S. Steinhardt, editor

Rabbit is eating breakfast with his friends Baby Squirrel, Young Porcupine, and Little Brother Panda when an unexpected visitor arrives. He is a master builder, searching for inspiration to design a great palace for the Emperor of China. Together, Uncle Builder and the little animals explore how nature supplies us with the wonders that enrich our lives. Created by internationally renowned children’s book artists Brian Tse and Alice Mak, this book teaches children about Chinese architecture, how nature’s influence can be seen around us, and how people and animals can live together in harmony. The illustrations capture the majesty of both the natural world and the Forbidden City and are enhanced by interactive components for readers, including a gatefold spread and lift-flaps.

To enter: Fill out the form below! Giveaway ends February 22.


Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Walking Dead 5x09: What Happened and What's Going On

Still crying about it, tbh.

I liked this episode a lot, I think it's official I go for Scott Gimple's artsy episodes. I thought the way it was shot and pieced together was really beautiful and the way it built was surprisingly effective. I don't know if I can forgive him for making me see the Governor again, though, I thought those days were over. And it was sad and painful to see Bob and Beth.

And actually, one of the things I liked the most which I suspect some will say was too heavy handed was the overplay of "real world news" The circumstances and events described could very easily have been zombie apocalypse news--which is a good acknowledgement that the things our characters go through to survive are things actual people in the world go through. I think it's worth noting for a couple of reasons. The first is that as awful as the zombie apocalypse is we're in a position of privilege to even think so--like I said there are awful circumstances in the world that drive people to awful actions. And secondly, it always helps to draw real world parallels in shows like these when people want to dismiss them because they can't be real. Yes they can be, the human element of this show is profoundly real.

Our characters are at a breaking point which was hard to watch but makes their Washington decision make sense. Loved Rick and Michonne. Loved Tyreese, always such a good guy even to the end. Ugh crying again.

One thing I noted was something about the wolves written on the wall and then I saw wolves in the preview??? Lol our poor guys.

Anyway so glad the show is back even if it rips out my heart and stomps on it. Would love to hear what you guys think!


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Give Books not Roses Giveaway!

What's more romantic than books? :) I'm excited to offer a fun giveaway for Valentine's Day courtesty of Hachette Books.

Here's a letter from the editor of the books on offer!

Dear Reader,

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! The crisp, cool air feels a little sweeter and stores are filling their shelves with greeting cards and candies. But instead of sharing the usual gifts, the way to someone’s heart can be through a story (and maybe a little bit of chocolate). Hachette Book Group is offering a “Give Books, Not Roses” Valentine’s Day giveaway for those of you who want to express your admiration for friends, family, and loved ones.

Love Gently Falling written by Melody Carlson is a romantic novella about the power of Valentine’s Day and how one woman discovers love while at the same time saving her family’s business. Successful hairstylist to the stars Rita Jensen returns to her hometown in Chicago after receiving news that her mother has suffered a stroke. Though Rita must come up with a plan to save her mother’s salon, the oncoming holiday and her undeniable feelings for an old classmate become quite a distraction.

Keys of Heaven is the second book in Adina Senft’s Healing Grace trilogy. Amish widow Sarah Yoder helps her community by creating teas and tinctures from the herbs she grows. She struggles to find love with an Amish man, and she doesn’t know what to do about her attraction to her friend Henry Byler, who has turned away from her beliefs. Sarah’s story will show anyone that romantic love is not the only love that matters.

Valentine’s Day is an internationally celebrated day of romance, dating back to the 5th Century. But today, love touches our lives in so many different ways. Whether you are dedicating the day to your good friends or your life partner, treat them to these wonderful stories of courage, kindness, and love.


Christina Boys

So! One lucky winner will receive a copy of each book plus a chocolate bar!

To enter you must be a resident of the United States. Just fill in the form below. Winners will be chosen February 14, 2015 and emailed!