Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Huge Barnes & Noble Paranormal Book Sale

Barnes and Noble is selling a ton of its paranormal books paperbacks (some new releases) for $3.99. I'm guessing this is online only.

Here's the link:

The Darkest Seduction (Lords of the Underworld, #9)Oracle's Moon (Elder Races, #4)Envy (The Fallen Angels, #3)Witchful Thinking (Jolie Wilkins, #3)A SEAL in Wolf's ClothingNightborn (Lords of the Darkyn, #1)Shaded Vision (Otherworld / Sisters of the Moon #11)Darkness Bound 

And many, many more! Hundreds of books! I don't know if this is only a Leap Day special or if it lasts longer. Enjoy!

Winners of Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas

Winners of 'Rainshadow Road' by Lisa Kleypas are:

1) Patti P.
2) Yadkny
3) Cheryl C.


Thank you to everyone who entered.

Winners, You'll have 48 hours from when my email is sent out to contact me with your address before another winner is chosen. So watch for an email from

(For those of you wondering how I enter people who wish not to enter via the Rafflecopter route, I use a friend or family member's account to assure you are entered. If their name comes up via Rafflecopter's random drawing, the entry automatically defaults to you. )

Winners of 'May the Road Rise Up to Meet You' by Peter Troy

Winners of 'May the Road Rise Up to Meet You' by Peter Troy are:

1) Anita Yancey
2) BookAttict


Thank you to everyone who entered.

Winners, You'll have 48 hours from when my email is sent out to contact me with your address before another winner is chosen. So watch for an email from

Monday, February 27, 2012

Early Review of The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp

Food, books, and fun served up under one cover? What a novel idea!

This is the revised and updated edition of 'The Book Club Cookbook'. I managed to snag a copy of the old version, so I'll let you know how it differs from the original. The cookbook offers a wide range of both books and recipes. Recipes include drinks, desserts, entrées, soups and salads. Books range from classics like 'Jane Eyre' and 'The Grapes of Wrath', to some of the more recent book club hits like 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' and 'The Help', to books which have won awards, such as 'The Life of Pi', to memoirs like "Angela's Ashes'. There are many books I've heard of and others I probably should have. The authors also included in this edition a smattering of pictures, which was lacking in the first book. The book is not only a cookbook, but a virtual smorgasbord for the literature loving individual or book club.

I've never done a review on a cookbook before so this was a fun experience for me. The recipes included in the book sometimes have a direct link to the stories they are in, such as Glogg is a drink that Mikael Blomkvist drinks in the 'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' by Stieg Larsson:
"Berger and Malm were taking care of the annual Christmas arrangements while Blomkvist sat in Erika's chair, drinking glogg and looking on."(page 633 of the paperback)

And Kipferl cookies were mentioned in Markus Zusak's book 'The Book Thief':
"They were Kipferl left over from Christmas, and they'd been sitting on the desk for at least two weeks. Like miniature horseshoes with a layer of icing sugar, the ones on the bottom were bolted to the plate." (page 459)

Other recipes truly had no direct link to the book, such as both the recipes listed under 'The Da Vinci Code', Rosemary Spaghetti and John Hornburg's Death by Chocolate. The cookbook authors, however, cleverly attempted to link them to the books by other means. The Rosemary Spaghetti was linked by "extending the story's symbolism to the palate. Rosemary is one ingredient that evokes the symbols in The Da Vinci Code. Rosemary symbolically weds icons of the rose and of Mary, an incarnation of the divine feminine, both of which are integral to The Da Vinci Code." Well, I don't know about that, but John Hornburg's Death by Chocolate definitely had me thinking of heavenly thoughts after eating a slice of his dessert. *smirk* For your information, John Hornburg's recipe was served at a the Milwaukee School of Engineering's Great Books Dinner and Discussion Series. John is a noted chef. Heck, after sampling this dessert, I'd buy this cookbook just so I could have this recipe. It's soooooo good. Yum! lol So, if you hadn't already surmised, some of the recipes included in the cookbook are those which were used by book clubs who meet in real life (as opposed to online) and were served at their meetings.

Most of the ingredients are fairly easy to find, but some take a little leg work in order to get them. The Harry Potter series inspired Treacle Tart recipe requires Golden syrup, for which I could find no substitute. Luckily, Amazon carries the product but while the price of the item is fairly reasonable, the shipping will cost you a pretty penny. 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' inspired Glogg requires cardamom pods which I managed to snag for a reasonable price at Williams Sonoma. Thankfully, one resides a half hour from my home. I was caught a off guard as I went to buy the ingredients for the recipe which was inspired by 'A Fine Balace', The Taal Restaurant's Chicken Biryani (Basmati Rice with Chicken), which required red chili powder. Apparently, the spice has a different flavor than regular chili powder found in the US, and I'll have to find a Indian grocer in order to obtain the spice. This recipe will need to go on my 'to make' list.

Books and their associated recipes not included in the new version:

- Douglass' Woman by Jewell Parker Rhodes (Banana Cream Pie)
-  The Emperer of Ocean Parks by Stephen L. Carter ( Crab Cakes with Spicy Remoulade)
-  Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith (Lee Smith's Pimento Cheese and Pasty Hopkin's Pimento Cheese)
-  Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of  Science and Faith by Dava Sobel (Lemon Ricotta--Goat Cheese Cake)
- Getting Mother's Body by Suzan-Lori Parks (Rhonda's Haney's Greens)
- Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years by Sarah Louise Delany and A. Elizabeth Delany (Pound Cake with Fresh Coconut Frosting)
- A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to Ivy League by Ron Suskind (Mama's Popular Trial-And Error Potato Salad)
- I Capture the Casle by Dodie Smith (Singapore Sling)
- Milk in My Coffee by Eric Jerome Dickey (Lemon Cheesecake)
- My Soul to Keep by Tanaraive Due (Doro Wat (Chicken Stew) with Injera (Flat Bread), Niter Kebbeh (Spiced Butter), & Berbere Paste)
- October Suite by Maxine Claire (Kathy Galligan's Deviled Eggs, Balsamic Vinaigrette, Pink Lady, & Sour Mix)
- The Secret History by Donna Tartt (Northern Trust Bank's Grilled Portobello Mushrooms)
- Sugar by Beatrice L. McFadden (Great-Grandma Olivia's Sweet Potato Pie & Sweetened Whipped Cream)
- A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley (Baked Corn Casserole)
- Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, A Young Man, And Life's Greatest Lesson by Mitch Albom (Paul Shipley's Egg Salad)
- Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts (Banana Bread)
- Winter Wheat by Mildred Walker (Irina Shved's Borsch (Beef Soup))

Books and their associated Recipes newly added to this edition:

- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Markus Zusak's Vanilla Kipferls)
- Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (Almaz's Ethiopian Doro Wot & Sister Marie Joseph's Praise's Cari De Dal)
-  Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (Dorothy's Famous Christmas Toffee)
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (Annie Barrow's Potato Peel Pie & Non-Occupied Potato Peel Pie)
- Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel by Jeanette Walls (Cowboy Hash & Cornbread Fritters)
- The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Demetire's Chocolate Pie & Caramel Cake)
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (Rebecca Skloot's Chicken Diable & Rebecca Skloot's Ceasar Salad)
- Infidel by Ayaan Hiris Ali (Angellows (Somali Pancakes))
- Little Bee by Chris Cleave (Post Colonial Pie)
- Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson (Helen Simonson's Toad-in-the-Hole)
- My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult (Firehouse Marinara Sauce)
- Olive Kitteridge by Elixabeth Strout (Olive Kitteridge's Grandmother's Doughnuts)
- Room by Emma Donoghue (Jack's Sixth-Birthday Cake)
- Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (New York-Style Cheesecake & Kir Royale Cocktail)
- The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Chorizo and Potat Spanish Toritilla Bites)
- Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (Lisa See's Deep-Fried Sugared Taro)
- South of Broad by Pat Conroy (Benne Wafers & Slightly North of Broad's Black Bottom Pie)
- A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (Jennifer Egan's Oatmeal Fudge "Refrigerator" Cookies)
- Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (Oyster Brie Soup (The Grove Park Inn's Recipe))

Each book associated with a recipe has a brief synopsis included with it, so if you haven't read the book before, you'll have an idea of what it's about. The book includes explanations as to why the authors of the cookbook chose a particular recipe and some of the recipes come directly from the authors who wrote the book they're associated with. This is a very fun and unique cookbook and I feel it would make a wonderful gift for the book lover in your life. I'm giving this one 4 1/2 roses out of 5.   All the recipes I've tried were delicious and I'll be adding some to my favorite recipes list. I would have liked more pictures, but I realize to include them would have increased the size of this book by a significant amount. Perhaps it should have been divided between two books? You definitely get your money's worth out of this one. I will definitely be picking up copies of this book to give as gifts to friends.

Notable notes:
- I didn't use all the frosting in the Death By Chocolate dessert so I ended up refrigerating it. It turned into a delicious fudge. Who knew? 
- The Rosemary Spaghetti tasted even better the second day!
- I was afraid to try the Chicken Diable because it contains curry, a spice I'm not particularly fond of, however, I didn't notice the flavor, so it didn't overpower the taste. This was a super easy recipe to make.
- Don't forget to check out the website I posted to the top of the review. It's a great site: (It's worth a second mention)

Thank you Penguin for letting me have an advanced copy of this edition. I feel like it was Christmas in February. :)

Magic Slays (Kate Daniels, #5) by Ilona Andrews

     "Kate...Are you happy? With Curran I mean."
     "When I can get my own way."
     She glanced at me, " And the rest of the time?"
     "The rest of the time I'm in a state of silent panic. I'm afraid it will end. I'll lose him. Lose Julie. Lose everyone."

Kate Daniel's life has been anything but easy. She's lost many people she's loved over the years. Now that Kate and Curran (aka Beast Lord) are officially mated, she's still afraid death will make another call and steal someone else she loves away. People around her tend to die. She realizes she can't let fear rule her, but it's always on the back burner of her mind.

Kate has moved in with Curran and the Pack is financing her new business which she has named Cutting Edge. Kate had hoped to use the skills and the connections she had acquired from working for the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid and the Mercenary Guild in her new position as owner of her own detective agency. The business has been opened for a month, but despite her reputation no one has attempted to hire her. That is until now. The Red Guard has hired her to help find a "misplaced" item they were hired to guard. Descriptions of what the "misplaced" item is are sketchy at best, but if she can pull it off, her business is pretty much guaranteed to take off. The only clue she really has is that when the mysterious object disappeared so did Adam Kaman, "a brilliant engineer, genius applied magic theorist." He also invented whatever it is the Red Guard was supposed to guard.

One of the possible leads as to who could have stolen (You didn't really believe it was misplaced did you?) the missing item comes from Andrea whom Kate hires to help her--"The Order suspects the existence of a secret society called the Lighthouse Keepers. They're well organized and really well hidden."..."They hate magic, they hate magic users, they hate magic creatures, and they would love to exterminate the lot of us with extreme prejudice."

Kate will have to face her fears head on and what she does to protect her own, I fear, may have repercussions in the future she may never have suspected or foreseen...

Usually after the two main love interests in a series get together things get well, boring. That is so not the case with this book. Ilona Andrews succeeds where many have failed and made my book crush even bigger as I find myself falling more and more for Curran. *sigh* The bantering that goes on between the two makes me chuckle, and I live vicariously through Kate.

The drama which unfolds is quick paced and keeps your attention. I didn't want to put the book down. At one point, Kate has to make a heart wrenching decision which adds tension to Kate and Curran's relationship. Plus, Julie once again runs away from the safe haven Kate has tried to create for her. Kate will learn  a lot about herself and her family in this one and some of the discoveries are quite shocking.

Some of my favorite quotes:
- “Help me, I can’t breathe, your ego is pushing all the air out of the room.”
- "If I fought for them and was crippled, they would all say nice things, and then they would replace me and forget I was ever there. You would stay with me. You would take care of me, because you love me. I love you too, Kate. If you ever became hurt, I would not leave you. I’ll be there. Wherever you want ‘there’ to be. "

This one will have a lot of shocks, twists, drama, and OMG moments. I think this is my favorite of the series and, as I love this series, that says a lot. I gave this one 5 out of 5 roses and eagerly await the next book. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one gets a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Early Review of The Rancher and the Rock Star by Lizbeth Selvig

  • Title:  The Rancher and the Rock Star 
  • Classification: Adult Fiction
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance
  • Format:  Paperback, 432 pages
  • Publisher: Avon Impulse (March 27, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0062134655
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062134653
Notes: Liz entered RWA’s Golden Heart contest in 2010 with The Rancher and the Rock Star (then titled Songbird), and won the Single Title Contemporary category.

Sometimes we get caught up in the daily grind that is life and lose sight of what's important. We get lost in the here and now and don't see what's going on around us. It's something made more difficult for Gray Covey because his son, Dawson, lives an ocean away. Gray, a modern day rock star, let his job be his first priority. Only seeing his son a few times a year, he mistakenly thought everything was great. That is until he found out from his ex-wife that his son had run away.

Dawson Covey left the posh English boarding school his parent's had paid for, hoping to stay with his grandmother. Only after he made the trip across the ocean did he discover no one had bothered to tell him she'd moved into a nursing home. He felt this validated his earlier feelings which led him to run away--that he just didn't fit into his parent's lives, and they didn't have any time for him. Not even enough to let him know what was going on with his grandmother. He found a haven, however, with a friend he'd made over the internet and her mother. He figured his parents probably wouldn't even notice he was gone.

Abby is a kind hearted soul who always liked helping others. She thought Dawson was from New York  and 18 years old. After all, that is what his driver's licence said. When Dawson's father comes around looking for him, she thought he must be looking for a different Dawson. Once he shows her his son's picture, however, there is no doubt. She's been played. Dawson could never have suspected he'd set something in motion that could potentially make his wish to fit in somewhere come true...

There is a religious overtone to the book which may turn some off, but it's not overpowering, and I thought added an endearing quality to Abby's personality. Abby is a widow whose husband and son died over 12 years ago. She's never really gotten over the loss and probably never fully will. Anyone who's ever lost a loved one knows their loss never truly leaves you. You just find ways to deal with it and go on. Abby's been content to focus all her energy on raising her daughter who is now 15. While her priorities are definitely in order, she's lost a piece of  herself on that fatal day years ago when she lost part of her family. While the loss left no physical scars, emotionally she was devastated and she has a tendency to keep anyone new, whom she could get attached to, at bay. She keeps a sort of protective emotional barrier around herself, if you will.

Gray finds himself not only clueless about how to handle his son, but distrusting of those around him. Fame comes with a price and it's a high one. Everyone seems to want a piece of you, and he can't help but questions people's motives around him. While he does put his son first, he doesn't quite get it's more than a one day type of deal his son is looking for. Dawson wants more. He doesn't want to be kept in the sterile environment of a boarding school, he wants a relationship with his parents. He wants to be noticed and feel like he belongs.

I did not have high expectations when I started reading this book. The title did not really reach out to me and, I must confess, if Avon had not given me an advanced eBook loan of it, I'd probably have glanced right by it on the shelf. That said, this was a very sweet and, for me, surprisingly enjoyable read. There was plenty of drama, engaging characters that I could relate to, and enough going on to keep my attention and stay in my thoughts well after I'd finished reading. I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one gets a FAN rating--the temperature in the room seems to have suddenly gone up a couple of degrees. Your face may be slightly flushed and a fan would be nice. I thought the chemistry between Gray and Abby was undeniable and the two complimented each other very well. A truly heartwarming love story that left me with a smile on my face. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sneak Peek at Witchful Thinking by HP Mallory

HP Mallory's book 'Witchful Thinking' is coming out February 28th. Here's a little taste of what to expect.

Jolie Wilkins, the main character from 'Wichful Thinking', discusses her take on witchcraft. Enjoy!




Here is a free sneak peek at her book Witchful Thinking coming out February 28th:

Witchful Thinking: A Jolie Wilkins Novel by H. P. Mallory (Free Excerpt)
Here’s a  link ‘to buy’ directly from Random House:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Truth (XVI, #2) by Julia Karr

  • Title: Truth (XVI, 2)
  • Classification: Young Adult Fiction (Ages 14 and up)
  • Genre: Dystopia
  • Format: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin; Original edition (January 19, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0142417726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142417720

     "What is the importance of the XVI tattoo? And you should know this, since I see you now have yours."...
     "The XVI tattoo is a government-mandated brand designed for easy identification of females who are sixteen and legally old enough to be sexually active. Even though it fades away in about six years, when girls get it they become immediately vulnerable to unwanted sexual advances and easy targets for rape. A crime that is rarely, if ever prosecuted because--"
     Mr, G's mouth dropped open; his glasses flew off his pointy nose and dangled from their silver chain. Slamming his pointer on the desk, he roared, "That is NOT an acceptable answer, Miss Oberon!"...
     Skivs! I clapped a hand over my mouth. What was I thinking? Actually, I wasn't thinking. Because of everything that had happened to me in the past few months, my real feelings were finding their voice--which wasn't necessarily a good thing. 

In XVI, we learned that the world is not as it used to be. Women's rights seem to have taken a huge step backwards and women no longer hold the status they once did. The backward society which promotes woman 16 and up to be sexual active without worrying of birth control hides ugly secrets. Nina's parents tried to unveil some of the dirty little secrets hidden from main stream society with devastating effects. Nina's father had gone into hiding while her mother, who found the most damning of information about the FeLS (Female Liasion) program, lost her life in her endeavors to get to the truth. Now Nina has decided to take up where her mom left off and finish what her mother started. She wants to get the truth out. But the scandal that is uncovered is bigger than anyone would suspect and the corruption is seemingly everywhere. Getting the word out will be difficult if not impossible. Plus, Nina now has to contend with the fact she's 16, that fatal turning point in age which makes everything more complicated and confusing. While the truth may set you free, in Nina's world, it can also get you killed ...

I really enjoyed this sequel to XVI. Nina seems to be coming into her own. She's smart and is determined to make difference. The wisdom in her helping with the cause is questioned by Sal, her boyfriend, who thinks she should stay in the background where she'll be safe. That doesn't really sit well with Nina. While she knows Sal has some role with the Resistance, she still don't know what that role exactly is. He's as mysterious as ever. Plus, another character makes his feelings for Nina known. While Sal seems to be jetting off to mysterious places when she needs him most, the potential new love interest tries to tempt her by declaring he'd be there for her. It makes things a tad more interesting.

There are still a lot of things, we readers, don't know that pertain to a man getting his XVIII year tattoo or how the US became such a backward society. I asked the author if we could expect a sequel and she informed me, "There is not a third book under contract, however, I am working on a third one. So - I am guessing it is not the end." I hope that is the case, as it seems we've only skimmed the surface of the world of XVI with Ms. Karr's first two books. Overall, I gave this book 4 out of 5 roses.
Ms. Karr discusses Truth (Part 1) 

(Part 2)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

  • Title: State of Wonder
  • Classification: Adult Fiction
  • Genre: Realistic Fiction 
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1st edition (June 7, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0062049801
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062049803

The Amazon Rainforest is thought by some to be one of the last vital frontiers for medicinal discoveries. A tribe known as the Lakashi seem to be a modern day miracle. Women in the tribe appear to still be able to bear healthy children well into their seventies. Just think of the potential. Dr. Swenson is in the field attempting to find the variable that allows these women a reproductive fountain of youth and develop a drug to replicate the process. The problem is that Dr. Swenson hasn't been heard from in two years. Dr. Anders Eckman was sent in to find the elusive Dr. Swenson who has never disclosed the Lakashi's whereabouts. After months of attempting to find the elusive doctor and uncover the progress she's made in developing the fertility drug, a letter arrives at Vogel, the pharmaceutical company funding the drug production. Dr. Eckman has died of a fever. Now Dr. Singh, Eckman's colleague, is asked to take up where Dr. Eckman left off . She is sent to find out about the drug's progress, if it even exists, and what happened to her colleague.

I liked aspects of the book, but it seemed to drag at times. The descriptions of the Amazon rain forest were one of the best parts of the book as I imagined journeying right along with Marina into the beautiful, yet deadly jungle. The premise of a fertility fountain of youth was intriguing. If you could prevent menopause I think the health of older women could be increased. They'd be less likely to get Osteoporosis and other related conditions. ***Slight Spoiler***The main problem I had with the whole fertility aspect of the book is it is not  humanly possible for a drug or tree/plant to make a woman who's stopped menstruating be able to do so again. Woman are born with a set number of eggs and once they're gone...well, they're gone. You can't recreate something that's not there. Well, unless you start talking about cloning which this book clearly does not.***End of Spoiler***

While the book centers around the drug and the Lakashi, the main story focuses in on one character--Marina Singh. While she was supposed to make a discovery about the fertility drug's progress, the real discovery, I believe, is about herself. Certain things in her past have haunted her and she's perhaps lost her way. Dr. Swenson, the doctor leading the fertility drug's production is her former teacher. What Marina will learn could potentially change her future. The problem is the story stopped at a place that really doesn't tell us if that is the case. It almost seemed, as Rachel, who read this with me concluded, that Patchett decided she was tired of writing and created a quick ending so she could get on with other things. Many things were left up in the air and I found the ending lacking and unsatisfying. It wasn't wrapped up in a neat and tidy bow, but made you wonder why it ended the way it did. It's like you blinked and in that split second the book ended. I actually checked to see if there was a sequel, but there isn't. I really couldn't see where the sequel would go, but I was curious. 

Overall, I gave this book 2 out of 5 roses. The imagery was delightful, but the characters, with the exception of Milton and Easter, weren't really all that endearing and I didn't connect with any of them. I should state the book did come full circle in that Marina did end up finding out what happened to Dr. Anders Eckman. So while the author may have felt that was a proper stopping point, I guess I just wanted more.

Notes to keep you in the know:
"Women are born with a set number of eggs. Every month, eggs are lost through ovulation and natural egg death. By age 30, women lose 88% of their life supply of eggs and by age 40, egg loss reaches 97%. The chance of a live birth from natural conception on a monthly basis declines from 20% at age 30 to 15% at age 35, 10% at age 40 and only 1-2% at age 45." (The above information was obtained from ) I originally learned about this fact by watching Private Practice, the spin-off of Gray's Anatomy. See, you can learn things from watching TV. :)

There is a passage that said something about the city at one time (probably the seventies) was full of individuals getting wealthy from the rubber industry. I think that is where the nice buildings came from.

Here are some street vendors: Where the other half lives:
Teatros Amazonas(Where Opera was held)in Manaus:

Birds Anders wished to see:
Harpy Eagle:

Guira Cuckoos:

More photos so you feel like you are all going on the journey too:
The muddy water:
The tributaries and river:

The animals:

Photos obtained from photobucket.

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