Friday, February 28, 2014

Foodie February Giveaway 2014!!!

So, this Foodie February was not as chock-full of reviews as I hoped (must plan better for next year!) but I am not skimping out on everyone’s favorite part of the event…the giveaway!!  This year I’m giving away the following foodie faves:

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted by Bridget Asher

The Love Goddess’ Cooking School by Melissa Senate

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

May the most fanatic foodie-fic lover win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, February 21, 2014

Mini Reviews - Foodie Duds: Dolci di Love & Cinnamon and Gunpowder

Summary Blurb:
New from the author of House of Daughters- an irresistible confection of love, loss, and Italian sweets in the delectable tradition of Chocolat

Corporate star Lily Turner abandons the boardrooms of Manhattan for the steep streets of Montevedova when she discovers her "perfect" husband, Daniel, has another family tucked away in the hills of Tuscany. Once there, her plight attracts the attention of the Secret League of Widowed Darners, an all-but-invisible army pulling strings behind the scenes to create happy endings. Soon founding members, Violetta and Luciana, are scheming to mend Lily's broken heart-and to enlist her help for their struggling pasticceria.

With the lush landscape of a sumptuous Tuscan summer in the background, and the tantalizing scent of fresh-baked cantucci in the air, Dolci di Love is the joyful celebration of a modern recipe for life.

My Blabberings:
This was a typical light lit book that I thought was going to have much more foodie elements than it actually did.  Sure, the protagonist ends up staying in an apartment above a bakery and there is a small element of baking…but that’s it.  I liked the book just fine, but I didn’t love it. 

2.5/5 stars
Summary Blurb:
A gripping adventure, a seaborne romance, and a twist on the tale of Scheherazade—with the best food ever served aboard a pirate’s ship

The year is 1819, and the renowned chef Owen Wedgwood has been kidnapped by the ruthless pirate Mad Hannah Mabbot. He will be spared, she tells him, as long as he puts exquisite food in front of her every Sunday without fail.

To appease the red-haired captain, Wedgwood gets cracking with the meager supplies on board. His first triumph at sea is actual bread, made from a sourdough starter that he leavens in a tin under his shirt throughout a roaring battle, as men are cutlassed all around him. Soon he’s making tea-smoked eel and brewing pineapple-banana cider.

But Mabbot—who exerts a curious draw on the chef—is under siege. Hunted by a deadly privateer and plagued by a saboteur hidden on her ship, she pushes her crew past exhaustion in her search for the notorious Brass Fox. As Wedgwood begins to sense a method to Mabbot’s madness, he must rely on the bizarre crewmembers he once feared: Mr. Apples, the fearsome giant who loves to knit; Feng and Bai, martial arts masters sworn to defend their captain; and Joshua, the deaf cabin boy who becomes the son Wedgwood never had.

Cinnamon and Gunpowder is a swashbuckling epicure’s adventure simmered over a surprisingly touching love story—with a dash of the strangest, most delightful cookbook never written. Eli Brown has crafted a uniquely entertaining novel full of adventure: the Scheherazade story turned on its head, at sea, with food

My Blabberings:
***first ever foodie fiction DNF!!***

I really thought I was going to love this book - the premise sounds so unique and fun.  But alas, it just didn't grab me despite its foodie bits and swashbuckling bits.  I kind of want to blame the narrator (Wedgewood, the chef pictured on the cover) because he was so naive and whiny.  So yeah...I wasn't a big fan of Wedgewood but maybe I just wasn't in the right frame of mind to read this tale.  I know a lot of folks on Goodreads seemed to like this book so maybe I'll give it another chance next year!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

TTT: Top Reasons I Love Being a Blogger/Reader

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, this week's topic: Top Ten Reasons I Love Being a Blogger/Reader.

1. I stay informed about the latest books (blogger buzz is usually a good indicator of an awesome novel) 

2. Sometimes I get Advanced Reader Copies (feels like Christmas every time!) 

3. I get to share my love of reading and put it out there into the ether 

4. I discover books I wouldn’t normally read due to blogger recommendations 

5. I get to bond with my fellow bloggers

6.  Improved vocabulary  

7.  There’s nothing better than curling up with a good book and a blanket 

8. Finding the perfect book recommendation for a friend or family member – gotta love fostering a love of reading in others 

9.  I'm more empathetic...or at least I think I am :)

10.  A better understanding of the English language

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

TTT: Swoony Titles

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, this week's topic: Top Ten Books That Will Make You Swoon.

1.  The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion - Asperger swoons...yup, that's right!

2.  The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley...historical and magical realism lovins!

3.  Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell...touching high school romance

4.   Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder...fantasy adventure and swoons

5.  A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness....witch and vampire love!

6.  Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park...witty new adult love story

7.  The Fault in Our Stars by John Green...sad and swoony

8.  The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller...epic swoons!

9.  The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen...magical realism with two love storylines!

10.  You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sarra Manning...Bridget Jones-esque swoons!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Monday Miscellany: Craft Space Redo Part I

Hey folks!  The Monday Miscellany segment on the blog is where I take off my reader glasses and share some non-bookish musings.  This week I'm brainstorming ideas for my new craft closet and showing you the "before" photos for an epic organizing transformation!

So, I started reading Organize Now! by Jennifer Ford Barry and inspiration struck.  I decided I wanted to move my disorganized crafts from one of our bedrooms:

into an underutilized closet:
Here's 1/2 of the closet...I want to re-do the doors too.

I know it seems ambitious, but also the holidays caused my crafts to be strewn all over the place...making it seem as though my crafting supplies are endless.  Here are some spaces that I want to mimic:

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Latest Review: Keepers

Whether they’re parents, married without kids, or single, most people want to do better at mealtime—they want to put good, nutritious food on the table, they’re looking for a more diverse repertoire of dishes to prepare, and they’d like to enjoy the process more. The problem is they don’t believe they have the time or ability to do it night after night. But it can be done, and Keepers will show them how.

Drawing from two decades of trial-and-error in their own kitchens, as well as working alongside savvy chefs and talented home cooks, Campion and Brennan offer 120 appealing, satisfying recipes ideal for weeknight meals. There’s an array of master recipes for classic dishes with options for substitutions, updated old favorites, one-pot meals, “international” dishes, super-fast ones, and others that reheat well or can be cooked in individual portions. Along with timeless recipes, Keepers is filled with invaluable tips on meal planning and preparation, all presented in an entertaining, encouraging, and empathetic style.

Keepers gives cooks all of the tools they need to become more efficient, confident, and creative in the kitchen. It will help them survive the Monday-to-Friday dinner rush with their sanity and kitchens intact, and also have some fun along the way.
My blabberings:
This is one of my favorite new cookbooks.  This book centers around easy but tasty family meals (my favorite kind of cooking). 

I really like the planning section at the start of Keepers.  Normally, I skim these parts of cookbooks but these ladies have some really great tips that I'm going to try and incorporate.  Like, categorizing your recipes into super-quick, one-dish, vegetarian, etc.  Then you can space out these categories so you're not overwhelmed by a week of prep-heavy recipes.  For instance, maybe Wednesdays you want a super-quick meal but Mondays a large one-pot meal would work so that you could eat leftovers throughout the week.  Smart thinkin'!

Now, let's get to the recipes.  Not only are they easy but they're delicious and unique.  Flavors that I would never think work together miraculously do in these recipes.  For example, the Japanese-Style Meat and Potatoes recipe combines ginger with ground beef and potatoes with seriously tasty results.  Then, I made the Expat Fried Rice and was in foodie heaven!  I've been making fried rice all wrong until now.  When I made this yummy meal I made it with salmon and spinach...what a tasty fried rice combo.  Also, I can't wait to try my hand at the Sausage and White Bean Gratin and the Shrimp Wonton Soup - they look sooo good!

This is a cookbook that needs to be on your shelves. Stat.

5/5 stars

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

TTT: Turning on the Waterworks

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, this week's topic: Top Ten Books That Will Make You Cry.  These seem to be some of my favorite books...I guess I like to feel all the feels!

1. Anything by Khaled Hosseini...that man does tragic very well.

2.  The Fault in Our Stars by John Green...devastating

3.  Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver...I don't want to spoil what made me cry but I definitely had some waterworks going with this one.

4.  The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller...even though I knew the myth and what would ultimately happen to the characters, it didn't lessen my emotions at all when I got to the tragic parts (testament to Miller's writing)!

5.  Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein...oh geez, WWII is always a good source of cry material (see also: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak).

6.  Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

7.  The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness - everyone that I've recommended this series to agrees there is one particular scene that makes them weep like a baby.

8.  Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner...such big feelings for such a small book.

9.  The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh...I remember trying to hide behind my book as I was crying mid-flight so my fellow passengers wouldn't catch on :)

10.  Still Alice by Lisa will cry an ocean of tears with this one!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Monday Miscellany: Feel-Good App

Hey folks!  The Monday Miscellany segment on the blog is where I take off my reader glasses and share some non-bookish musings.  This week I'm featuring an awesome app that peeps should definitely check out.  Behold, the "One Small Act" app:

Earn points for being green - uh, awesome!  It gives you suggestions about living greener and allows you to work towards your green goals.  If you're interested you should check out their website.  I'm signing up right now...why not add this in to my resolutions, eh?