Thursday, April 30, 2015

Follow Friday Four Fill-in Fun - 5/1/15

Feeling Beachie 

Love this meme....I hope you can join in the fun.  

Each week, Feeling Beachie lists four statements with a blank for you to fill in on your own blogs.  

The statements:
  1. Hearing ______makes me feel _______.
  2. I hate to wear _______, but love to wear ________.
  3. I have a _______on my ______
  4. I wish I could say ______ to __________
My Answers:
1.  Hearing good news makes me smile.

2.  I hate to wear shorts, but love to wear a skirt.

3.  I have a "reading" table and chairs on my back porch for the summer.

4.  I wish I could say whatever I want to someone who needs to be told.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Tempt Your Taste Buds and Your Reading

 ENJOY recipes by Nicole Baart as well as her book:


My Family Recipe: Apple Pudding with Homemade Caramel Sauce
by Nicole Baart, author of The Beautiful Daughters 

Nicole Baart author photo

“Adri protested, her mouth watering at the thought of her father’s mashed potatoes, glistening with pats of butter and swimming in gravy that he made from the drippings of his roast chicken. When they were kids, she and Will had eaten like royalty. Fat steaks charred on the grill, meatloaf sandwiches with homemade vinegar and ketchup glaze, pork roast with caramelized onions and baked apples. Sam even had one go-to cake, a dense, chocolate confection made with sour cream and a can of cherry pie filling that was best hot from the oven. And even better with a handful of half-burnt birthday candles stuck in the gooey frosting.” (from The Beautiful Daughters)

Adri Vogt, a humanitarian-aid nurse in The Beautiful Daughters, grew up on a small dairy farm in Northwest Iowa, a setting loosely based on my grandparents’ farm. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of that little white house, the chicken coop and barn, and the grove where we played on antique tractors and hunted for litters of wild kittens. But mealtimes were the best. No one could cook like my grandma. And if a cup of sugar was good, surely two cups were better. It’s somewhat shocking to remember those meals today, the way that we consumed so many calories and burned them all off playing outside and doing farm chores. I’ve given up such a rich menu for my family, but a few things remain. The chocolate cake Adri remembers is one of them. My grandma used to let me take a spoon and dig the first, hot bite out of the corner of the pan. Years later I tasted black forest cake for the first time and realized that my grandma’s chocolate cherry cake was a sort of variation. To this day, I like grandma’s better: served warm with, of course, a cup of strong coffee.

I’m actually going to share two family recipes with you because the chocolate cake is so simple it can hardly be called a recipe. (Chocolate Cherry Cake: Prepare a boxed chocolate cake mix as directed, substituting the same amount of sour cream for the oil or butter. Stir in one 15 ounce can of cherry pie filling and 1/2 teaspoon of almond flavoring. Bake as directed. Frost with your favorite chocolate frosting. So delicious!)

Though we love the chocolate cherry cake, our family favorite is actually Apple Pudding with Homemade Caramel Sauce. Don’t let the name fool you–it’s more of a cake than a pudding, an unbelievably delicious and surprisingly easy dessert with a hot topping that transforms it into a sort of sticky cake. It’s homey and decadent, something that Sam, Adri’s father in The Beautiful Daughters, would undoubtedly make for his kids.

 Nicole Baart cake

Photo Credit: Nicole Baart

Apple Pudding with Homemade Caramel Sauce

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 6 medium sized apples, peeled, cored, and diced (I like Braeburn for baking)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients. Incorporate dry ingredients into the butter mixture, stirring well. Fold in diced apples. (The batter will be extremely chunky.) Spread into a greased and floured 9×13 pan. Bake 30-40 minutes at 350. The cake is done when the center bounces back when lightly touched. It will be a dark, brown sugar color—it is not burnt! In fact, we like to overbake it a bit because it turns the edges into a wonderfully chewy, toffee-like concoction. (This pudding is just as good the second and even third day!)

 DSC09929 (2)

Photo Credit: Nicole Baart


While the pudding is baking, melt 1/2 cup of butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Stir in 1 cup white sugar and 1 cup brown sugar. Slowly drizzle 1 cup of half and half into the saucepan, stirring constantly. Heat through until the sugar granules are completely dissolved, but do not boil. Remove from heat and add 1 tsp. vanilla. Serve warm, spooned generously over individual servings of apple pudding. Refrigerate any unused portion (reheat and stir to serve again).


Nicole Baart is the mother of four children from four different countries. The cofounder of a non-profit organization, One Body One Hope, she lives in a small town in Iowa. She is the author of seven previous novels, including, most recently, Sleeping in Eden. Find out more at

Beautiful Daughters cover image

Atria Books | 428 pages | 978-1-4391-9738-7 | April 28, 2015 | $16.00

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Last Night At The Blue Angel by Rebecca Rotert

Naomi and Sophia live alone as mother and daughter.  Naomi is a singer and got her start i​n her ​Catholic school with Sister Idalia.  Sophia loves her mother, sits at the night club when her mother sings, and sees things an eleven-year-old shouldn't be seeing.

LAST NIGHT AT THE BLUE ANGEL is mostly dialogue with wonderful characters who truly care for each other.  Well...most characters care for each other.  Naomi seems to be all about herself even though she appears to love her daughter, Sophia.

​LAST NIGHT AT THE BLUE ANGEL flashes back to Naomi's childhood then to her current situation that includes Sophia.  ​Sophia is always worried and keeps lists of things she can improve and re-invent in case of a nuclear disaster.  I loved Sophia but wasn't too fond of her mother.

Jim, the photographer, was sweet and was always put aside by Naomi, but he was so loved by Sophia.​  Jim was obsessed with taking photos of buildings that were falling apart and ones he said he had to photograph before they would be gone forever. 

David along with Naomi was not a favorite even though he was involved with Naomi.

LAST NIGHT AT THE BLUE ANGEL is about family relationships, love, and living with and loving what you have.  ​For a debut novel, this book has a lot of depth and characters that will stay with you even after you have finished the book. 
Ms. Rotert writes beautifully and pulls you in so well that you become part of the story.

I enjoyed LAST NIGHT AT THE BLUE ANGEL, and enjoyed Naomi's early years a bit more than her present situation even though the early years were a bit wild.

Adorable Sophia made the present​ ​very interesting and at times comical.  She was so sweet and yet such a bundle of worries, but who wouldn't be worried with the life the confused but precocious child led.

There are adult situations scattered throughout the book but nothing graphic or explicit - simply insinuations.

Naomi's last night at The Blue Angel turned out for the best for her, but the last few pages are ones where you will need tissues. 

ENJOY!!!  4/5

At the end of the book, Ms. Rotert shares information about where her characters and storyline grew from.  These pages were quite informative and interesting.  

After reading these ending informational pages, I would say LAST NIGHT AT THE BLUE ANGEL can also be classified as historical fiction. 

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation in return for an honest review.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday

This is my first Top Ten Tuesday.  :)

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday there’s a different topic. 

This week's Topic is:  

Top Ten All Time Favorite Authors

It is difficult to choose ten, but My Top Ten Favorite Authors in no particular order are below:

1.  Kate Morton - love all of her books.  My favorite is THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN.  THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN  was pre-blog so no review, but I also liked THE SECRET KEEPER.

2.  William Kent Kruger - ORDINARY GRACE and TAMARACK COUNTY were quite good.

3.  Lucinda Riley - love her books.  My favorite is THE LAVENDER GARDEN.

4.  Renee Rosen - loved both of her books that I read.  DOLLFACE and WHAT THE LADY WANTS.

5.  Pam Jenoff - I met her at the BEA...lovely person.  I have read almost all of her books and she has a new one out.  Can't wait to read it.  Here is one I have reviewed on my blog THE WINTER GUEST.  

6.  Todd Borg - Awesome mystery/thrillers.  I am quoted in his book TAHOE TRAP. Another good book by Mr. Borg is TAHOE CHASE.

7.  Beth Hoffman - You must read her books. LOOKING FOR ME is just as wonderful as SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT. SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT was pre-blog days so no review, but I think everyone knows the book.

8.  Bette Lee Crosby - All of her books are superb.  Here a few:  THE TWELFTH CHILD and PASSING THROUGH PERFECT.

9.  Karen White - she is awesome.  I am reading her newest book, THE SOUND OF GLASS....very good.  I loved these books:  A LONG TIME GONE, THE TIME BETWEEN.

10.  Barbara Davis - loved her book, THE WISHING TIDE.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The #the100dayproject - Are You Joining In The Fun?


Over on Instagram, there’s a #the100dayproject where users are challenged to do a project of their choosing for 100 consecutive days. 

Atria Books is joining the challenge by pulling one line from page 100 of a different book.

Follow along by following @Atriabooks on Instagram!

Here’s Day’s 1 challenge: 

Atria Books' first line comes from Colleen Hoover, #1 New York Times bestselling author of CONFESS.

day1confess - #100daychallenge

Send Atria Books your Instagram links if you plan on joining, and Atria Books will follow you!

Follow Friday Four Fill-In Fun - 4/17/15

Feeling Beachie 

Love this meme....I hope you can join in the fun.  

Each week, Feeling Beachie lists four statements with a blank for you to fill in on your own blogs.  

The statements: 
  1. If I _______________I'd change ____________
  2. I'd rather __________ somewhere than ___________
  3. Seeing_____ makes me_______.
  4. Could you still______ after___
My Answers:
1.  If I could read faster, I'd change a lot in my life.

2.  I'd rather read somewhere than go to a movie.

3.  Seeing shelves and shelves of books makes me happy.

4.  Could you still read a book after you heard bad things about it?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


“Guess the Desk” 
This author, shares her own beautiful—and enviable writing area! With the streaming light hitting the desk, how could you not envy the life of a writer, as you are bathed in the warm sun?

Nicole desk side view

Guess whose BEAUTIFUL desk this is and win a copy of her book.

The answer is pretty obvious as you continue to read this post.  :)

Soooo...simply enter for a chance to win.
Entry form is at the bottom of this post.
This desk gives us insight into her own life, as trinkets scatter the table: An “N,” a computer case from a Liberian cement bag, rocks from a beach in British Columbia (“our home for six years”), a globe from 1950…

Nicole desktop view


Nicole Baart author photo

Nicole Baart is the mother of four children from four different countries. The co-founder of a non-profit organization, One Body One Hope, she lives in a small town in Iowa. She is the author of seven previous novels, including, most recently, Sleeping in Eden. Find out more at

Beautiful Daughters cover image
 The Beautiful Daughters by Nicole Baart

Atria Books | 352 pages | ISBN 978-1-4391-9738-7 | April 28, 2015 | $16.00

Enter here

APRIL 15 to APRIL 22




Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Quebec City and A Louise Penny Tour

My son and I visited Quebec City this past weekend with our weekend ending with a very informative Louise Penny Tour featuring her book, BURY YOUR DEAD.

What a beautiful city and what lovely people.  French is the main language spoken, but if you do not speak French, no worries.  Everyone begins speaking to you in French, but when they realize you do not speak their native language, they immediately begin speaking to you in perfect, fluent English.

Quebec City is very quaint, and you will think you are in Europe.

We stayed in a beautiful hotel, Le Chateau Frontenac, and the second day we were there the weather cooperated with a balmy 60 degrees.  There were still remnants of snow on most streets, though.  They had gotten 11 feet of snow over the course of the past winter.

Here is a view from our hotel room. The St. Lawrence River is in the foreground with the melting ice moving at a rapid pace.  The ice is something tourists come to see.

We also attended Sunday mass at Notre Dame de Quebec which was a bit of a challenge since it was in French.  :)

Moving on to the Louis Penny tour.  We had a fantastic tour guide named Francois who spoke PERFECT English even though his native language as all of Quebec City is French.

He was an excellent guide and took us on a tour to the different places in Louise Penny's book, BURY YOUR DEAD.  Francois gave us very informative background facts about the city as well as Louise Penny and showed us all the places she used in the city for scenes in her book.  She actually lived in Quebec City for a few months to do her research.

The best part of the tour was the library that Louise Penny used as the place where the body was found in her book, BURY YOUR DEAD.

The plaque below is on the outside wall of the library.

Here is a photo of my son and I in the library that houses books which are all surprisingly in English.  All books are able to be checked out. Isn't the library beautiful?

A few photos we snapped while in the library.  The "old" books were encased in glass book cases, and were not able to be checked out of the system.,_1st_Baronet

I hope you get to visit Quebec City some day, and I hope you enjoy your visit as much as we did.

Quebec City has a European flair, but with a much shorter plane ride for a nice getaway.  :)



A FIFTEEN-MINUTE Giveaway of EVERY FIFTEEN MINUTES by Lisa Scottoline AND other prizes


KAREN - #20


I will send Karen an e-mail so I can get her mailing address to send to the publisher.

THANKS to everyone who entered this awesome giveaway!!

Banner courtesy of:

Friday, April 10, 2015

A FIFTEEN MINUTE Giveaway of EVERY FIFTEEN MINUTES by Lisa Scottoline AND other prizes


By Lisa Scottoline
Listen to the excerpt at the URL below to see if you want to enter the giveaway.  

I am sure you will.  :)  

Enter the giveaway for EVERY FIFTEEN MINUTES, and win the prizes listed next to my name.  

You can enter the giveaway on EVERY blog.

CONTEST has ended.

The Winner is:

Karen - #20 

MY Entry link is here and also below all the listed blogs.

Stop by as many blogs as you can for the different prizes.

I hope these are the best 15 minute-time slots of your day!!!

I will choose the winner during my time slot, and you will know who the winner is instantly on April 14.  :)


Group 1 (11:00AM – 12:00PM)

Group 2 (1:00PM – 2:00PM) 

Group 3 (3:00PM – 4:00PM)

Enter here for my giveaway.


Giveaway courtesy of Mitali Dave from Macmillan Audio.

New York Times bestselling author
Read by George Newbern

Tom Fortez is a psychiatrist with a successful private practice and a loving wife and daughter. He’s held in high esteem at the prestigious psychiatric hospital and on the national book-and-lecture circuit. One of his most complex patients is Mike Browning, a brilliant but disturbed young man who has begun to exhibit violent delusions directed at the employees of the insurance company from which he was recently fired. He’s particularly focused on a young woman who spurned his advances, and he’s made statements about her in his therapy sessions that make Tom concerned for her safety. Tom is struggling to decide whether to breach the confidentiality of his patient (thus thwarting his efforts at treatment) by going to the police when Browning goes missing. And then the woman in question is found raped and murdered in her apartment complex. Tom immediately goes to the police to report what he knows, and suddenly finds himself in the headlines, the target of scorn and anger throughout the community. The nightmare only gets worse when Browning takes hostages at the insurance company. As Tom investigates on his own he finds clues that Browning may not have committed the rape and murder, and he must hurry to solve the murder and stop Browning from killing any hostages before time runs out.   

"Scottoline knows how to keep readers in her grip."
The New York Times Book Review

George Newbern’s narration brings Scottoline’s already gripping thriller to an almost unbearable level of suspense. Newbern’s expert skill set is evident--he seamlessly maintains the tension between Fortez and Browning up until the very end.

LISA SCOTTOLINE is a New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award–winning author of twenty-one novels. She has served as President of Mystery Writers of America, and she is a weekly columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Her columns have been collected in four books and optioned for television. She has 30 million copies of her books in print in the United States, and she has been published in thirty countries. She lives in the Philadelphia area with an array of disobedient pets.

GEORGE NEWBERN is a film and television actor best known for his roles in Father of the Bride and Scandal. A prominent voice-over performer and award winning narrator, Newbern’s previous audiobook credits include several novels by Carl Hiaasen and Seabiscuit by Lauren Hildebrand, among others.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

One Mile Under by Andrew Gross


Being a white water guide ​was Dani’s dream job, but finding a dead body of a friend as she was completing a run put a whole different light on her dream job.

Was her friend's ​death an accident or was it murder? Too many things happened after she found the body to convince her that it was simply an accident.

The tension and the action escalated once Dani and her Uncle Ty decided to investigate.  They became involved in an unscrupulousness scheme by environmentalists.  ​Murder, corruption, and folks being paid off made ONE MILE UNDER an​ action-packed thriller.

Dani and Uncle Ty were likable ​characters ​along with the folks that were being victimized by ​the ​environmental corruption.  ​Most of the other characters were deadly,​ frightening, dishonest, and cunning.

ONE MILE UNDER took a few pages to get interesting, but once it got going you won't want to put the book down. The ​detailed action was intense, and will have you feeling the fear and sharing the fear of the characters.  The book had me on the edge of my seat.

Any reader who enjoys fast-paced, gripping, page-turning thrillers will definitely enjoy ONE MILE UNDER.  4/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.​

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Follow Friday Four Fill-in Fun - 4/3/15

Feeling Beachie 

Love this meme....I hope you can join in the fun.  

Each week, Feeling Beachie lists four statements with a blank for you to fill in on your own blogs.  

The statements: 

  1.  I require a lot __________
  2. ___ is ___
  3. Sometimes I _____
  4. One word to describe _____ is _____
My Answers:

1.  I require a lot of sleep and exercise.

2.  Having my son home for a visit is wonderful.

3.  Sometimes I wish my son lived closer.

4.  One word to describe me is organized.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Review and Giveaway of DON'T TRY TO FIND ME by Holly Brown

To celebrate the release of the paperback copy of


Harper Collins has a copy for one lucky reader


Meeting someone online and falling in love is wonderful.  Yes, it is wonderful but not when you are fourteen and he is twenty-nine and has lied to you about a lot of things including his name.

Marley met Brandon on a social media site, and he talked her into leaving her family and joining him for a life together.  But...she couldn't take her computer, her phone, or even go out of the house once she arrived.

As Marley traveled by bus to meet Brandon, on the other side of the country, her parents were frantically looking for her with no clues at all.  Marley wiped out everything on all devices so no trace of where she was could be discovered.

This nightmare was real for Marley’s parents, Rachel and Paul.  They used social media to start a site named

This book discussed a lot of social issues and showed the dangers of social media’s influence on youth as well as its ability to aid in getting cross-country exposure about a runaway.

The characters were difficult to like. I wanted to shake Marley. I definitely disliked Brandon.  I wasn't even fond of Rachel or Paul.

But, despite the unlikeable characters, DON’T TRY TO FIND ME had me glued to the pages and had my heart racing.  The suspense was quite high.  My fear for Marley had me tense while I was reading the book as well as when I was waiting to return to see what was going to happen.  I still am anxious as I am writing this...definitely the sign of a GOOD book.

If you like to be kept on the edge of your seat, don’t miss reading DON’T TRY TO FIND ME.  It was a quick read, but very intense.  It could even be called a thriller.

My rating is going to be a 4/5 because parts of the book were a bit too descriptive, but the anxiety and apprehension as each scene took place made it a terrific read.

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.


April 2 - April 9

USA entries ONLY

Click here to enter the contest. 


**The Celebrate image courtesy of: