Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Novel of Suspense

The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. Rose
: April 8, 2014 by Atria Books
Series: Reincarnationist #6
There are certain types of books that I read and instantly think, this would be one my mom would have loved. These are books with dual story lines in the past and present, especially when there's a mystery solved throughout each time period. And as an added bonus it's books that have some connection to France. So it pains me a little that she's not here, because as much as I enjoyed this book, I think she would have loved it.

This book is a the sixth in a series, and while it's somewhat of a pet peeve of mine, I started with this and didn't read them in order. Thankfully, this one worked as a standalone. There was clearly a back story of Jac and Griffin's relationship, but there is a brief recap of it all. And while at times their relationship felt a bit like insta-love, I think if I had read the books preceding this, it would have had the development I was looking for.

I may not be a perfume expect, but I can say I really appreciated all the details that went into the creation of the perfumes. I can't vouch for their accuracy, but it definitely added an authenticity.

I also really loved everything with Catherine de Medici. While I've read several books where she's been featured, including now this one, I've yet to read anything that specifically focused on her. I know there's a few out there, even some that I already own, so hopefully I'm able to fill that niche for myself soon.

I really enjoyed my time with M.J. Rose, and if I have any complaint it's that I haven't read her earlier books. Even now, knowing how the series will end up, I'm looking forward to going back and reading the rest of the series.


Disclosure: I was provided this book through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. All opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mailbox Monday (74)

It feels like weekends are never long enough. But while I'd like it to go on forever, at least one perk of it ending is that it's time to link up with Mailbox Monday to share the books I've added to my to-read pile recently.
Mailbox Monday
From Goodreads
The Last Kings of Sark by Rosa Rankin-Gee
This one is about a young girl who goes to Europe to become a tutor to royalty living on Channel Island, the last place in Europe to abolish feudalism. I can't say I really know a lot about this one, but it does look awfully intriguing, especially with my love of all things royal.

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good by Kathleen Flinn
While I've never actually read anything by this author, I do at least own her first memmoir The Sharper You Knife, the Less You Cry. While her first was her experience attending Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, this instead is about her childhood and how those experiences lead her towards becoming a chef. I do consider myself a bit of a foodie, so I do think both of her books look like ones I'll enjoy, at least whenever I find the time to read them.

For Review from Historical Fiction Book Tours
Sinners and the Sea by Rebecca Kanner
I wouldn't call myself an expert on Biblical fiction, but of the handful I've read I've always really enjoyed myself. This one is about Noah's wife, and while I obviously know the story, I'm really curious to see what all has been added to get to a full novel.

For Review from Virtual Author Book Tours
Love Will Make You Drink & Gamble, Stay Out Late at Night by Shelly Lowenkopf
This is a short story collection where all stories take place in Santa Barbara. Knowing that for years I was planning on going to college in Santa Barbara, I think this will be an interesting take on what my life could have been like.

What did you find in your mailbox this week?

Dewey's Read-a-Thon Follow-Up

Just like I was late starting the read-a-ton, I'm late recapping it all. Overall, in 24 hours I read for 4 and half hours and read 312 pages. So overall, not that stellar, but for more than I would have read on a normal Saturday. Plus I decided to join the read-a-thon at the last minutes. As for the books read...

The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. Rose - Pages 103-365, Finished
On the Rocks by Erin Duffy - Pages 1-50

So again, not the best outing, but not the worst way to start either. Next time though there's a read-a-thon I'm going to decide to do it far earlier, and honestly there's really no where to go from here but up!

Did you participate in the read-a-thon? Or any read-a-thon ever?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon

So, I'm a little late to the party, but at the very last minute I've decided to join Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon! I want to get me reading started ASAP, but first here are a few questions...

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
I'm outside of Baton Rouge, Louisiana

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
Probably On The Rocks by Erin Duffy. I really loved Bond Girl by her and it looks like I fun summer read.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
Well, since I really didn't prepare for this we don't really have a lot of snacks in the house. I think my options are basically Cheez-its or Zapps Cajun Crawtators.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
Well in case my blog title, or description on the right didn't give it away, I'm a Southern California girl, who is now living in Louisiana, and has been for almost 8 years now.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
This is my first, but I'm really looking forward to catching up on my reading. I have 3 books I'm supposed to have finished by next Friday for various reasons, so hopefully today makes that actually possible.

I'll probably be back for an update or two later today, but till then... I'll be reading!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

From NY to VA

Driving Lessons by Zoe Fishman
: April 8, 2014 by William Morrow Paperbacks
You don't need to be currently experiencing something to be able to relate to a book. After all, I'm not in high school, but I'm still able to look back on my time there and love YA books. But more than that, you don't even need to have experienced something to be able to get it. I'm definitely not in a 30 year long marriage, but I still couldn't help but identify with Leslie in The Last Original Wife. Even so, there's something so perfect and magical even, when you find a book that completely resonates with what you're going through at this exact moment. For me, that was Driving Lessons.

Sarah is in her early 30s, which isn't nearly the same as me since I won't be 30 for a long, long, long time... aka this October. She's also moving from New York City of Farmwood, Virginia, again not quite the same as me, but I did move from California to Louisiana, so the idea of adapting to the South is also familiar. She's trying to decide what she wants in her life from her career, from her friends, for a family, all things I'm grappling with. And while she's in marketing, which I can't necessarily relate to, her husband is a college math professor which is a match for my math Masters degree. There are definitely small details too that if I had read it a few years ago would have likely felt over the top and cheesy, but for me, right now, it was perfect

I absolutely loved the relationships in this book. Sarah and her husband's relationship isn't perfect, but it feels so real. The relationship between Sarah and her best friend Mona is pretty amazing too. They spend a lot of time reminiscing about their past 10 years of friendship, and while I think this could have made the reader feel a bit like a 3rd wheel, it's the opposite here. It makes you feel a part of their friendship, and actually I couldn't help but start to think of my own memories with my best friend. Lastly, while it isn't nearly as big of a part of the plot, I really enjoyed Sarah's relationship with her sister-in-law too. It is a fairly friendship, unlike the other two I've mentioned, but I couldn't help but enjoy how we were able to see start to develop.

While this may be a little superficial I was also a big fan of the cover and title. I think so often you see a cover that's pretty, like this clearly is, but it doesn't reflect the story inside. Thankfully it did here. The title is a similar story. Yes, it's clever and it has an obvious meaning in the story itself, but I think there's also the idea that Sarah's figuring out her life and learning her lessons as she goes.

I do think that for me this book was the absolute perfect fit. That's not to say I wouldn't have enjoyed it if I read it 5 years ago or even 5 years from now. I'm sure I still would have, but it wouldn't have had that special sparkle to it.


Disclosure: I was provided this book through TLC Book Tours. All opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Peanuts & Crackerjacks

A few weeks ago the boy and I went to our first LSU game of the season. It wasn't a great experience overall, after all the Tigers lost, when we tried to leave we couldn't because we were double parked, and travesty of travesties I only took two photos.
National Anthem
Luckily that wasn't the case this time.
I may not have had peanut and crackerjacks but the boy and I did split a meat pie and jambalaya. Only in Louisiana, right?
Meat Pie
And since it was crazy hot, we did both have a snow cone, or snowball as the call it in Louisiana, later on.
Everbody (Backstreet's Back)
Even more fun, we got to see the grounds crew dance, which they've started going fairly regularly, but of course didn't during our disaster of game. And maybe you can tell, but the song they're dancing to is "Everybody" from the Backstreet Boys. Coincidentally, that was the day Nick Carter got married, and I'm sure that had to be their way of showing support for him... right?
Grounds Crew Doing BSB
But still, the best part of the game had to be that in the bottom of the ninth, tied, with 2 outs, LSU was able to win the game!
LSU Wins
Geaux Tigers!
What was your experience like the last time you made it out to a baseball game?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Monday Movie Review

The Grand Budapest Hotel
I wasn't sure what to expect with this one, but whatever it was, I found myself pleasantly surprised. It's kind of quirky in a way, and even slow at parts, but still, it definitely is quite an experience.

First there's the hotel itself which you see throughout different times, and in the poster above. It really is an amazing place, and I loved all the little details throughout the place.

The cast too is pretty amazing. It seems every time you blink you recognize someone knew. Although my favorite had to be Saoirse Ronan and her character.

And the story itself is told in a completely unique way. As the boy described it, it's a Russian nesting doll with a story in a story in a story and so on.

Is this a movie you need to run out and see? Maybe not, because it doesn't necessarily need the big movie theater experience. But even so, I'd definitely say it's worth worth catching eventually.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Mailbox Monday (73)

I hope everyone is having a happy holiday weekend! I know I've been depriving myself of baked goods for Passover, while scarfing down Easter candy, so I guess it's the best of both world. But now, of course, for my weekly Mailbox Monday link-up!
Mailbox Monday
For Review from Virtual Author Book Tours
When Camels Fly by NLB Horton
This is a bit of a mystery/thriller, but what I'm most excited for is that it takes place in Israel. And actually, it's pretty much a perfect week to be sharing it.

For Review from Historical Fiction Book Tours
Love & Treasure by Ayelet Waldman
This is a historical fiction that takes place in the Holocaust. But it also looks to have a modern day story as well, and actually reminds me a bit of The Keeper of Secrets by Julie Thomas, which I really enjoyed, so I'm hopeful this one is worth it too.

What did you find in your mailbox this week?

Friday, April 18, 2014

In The Land of Men {Giveaway}

The Idea of Him by Holly Peterson
: April 1, 2014 by William Morrow Paperbacks
This is the fourth book in a row I've read that deal with failing relationships. Whether its due to infidelity, abuse, neglect, or just the fact that couple isn't right for each other, all of four books had this major theme in common. I don't necessarily mind reading books that don't have a picture perfect, happy, romantic ending, but unfortunately for The Idea of Him, I think for now, I'm a bit over it.

In this book, Allie's husband is portrayed as the bad guy. He may be having an affair or he may be involved in a financial scheme, but I think we're definitely supposed to be feeling bad for Allie. Except she isn't the perfect model wife either. She's still obsessing over her failed high school relationship, and she's considering having an affair herself. You can't necessarily blame her considering the current state of her marriage, but still, it's hard to root for her.

The story also has a lot going on, to the point where it was hard to keep everything straight. In some ways I think that's the point because there is a bit of a mystery throughout, except when it finally wraps up in the final chapters, I still felt like I was missing a critical part.

I do think this book is a victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don't necessarily think it's a bad book, just not necessarily what I wanted to be reading at the time. I have to say I'm now craving a sweet and sugary romance, and hopefully am able to find that perfect book soon!


To learn more about this book check out the following!
The Idea of Him on Amazon
Holly Peterson's website
Holly Peterson's Facebook page
Holly Peterson on Twitter

I'm excited to share that I have a copy of this book available to one lucky reader! Hopefully you're in a better mood than I while reading it, and to help you get there, you'll also win this candle from Andrea Schroder. Please use the rafflecopter form below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: I was provided this book through TLC Book Tours. All opinions expressed are my own.

Today I'm linking up with Blonde Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Vive La France {Giveaway}

Over the past year I've had the pleasure of hosting a few book reviews for France Book Tours. If you're curious, those books are...
Paris was the Place by Susan Conley
The Consoltations of the Forest by Syvain Tesson
Marie Antoinette's Head by Will Bashor
These have been books I likely wouldn't have discovered otherwise, and ones I've been pleasantly surprised by. I've definitely enjoyed my time with France Book Tours which is why I'm so excited to be sharing a giveaway with you all in honor of its first anniversary!

France Book Tours Banner 1st anniversary

France Book Tours is celebrating
its first anniversary
on April 18!

France Book Tours has been thrilled to present amazing books related to France for a year.

To thank the authors who submitted their books and the bloggers who read and reviewed them, France Book Tours organizes a mega giveaway from April 18-25!

Depending on the number of entries in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this page, they may give away up to 10 books, so spread the word!
The winners will be chosen on April 26.

Here are all the books available to win! Click on each cover to know more about it.

Please note what format the book is available in.
Note also that some books are only available for US/Canada residents.
If nothing is specified, it means you can receive the ebook or the print copy where ever you live.

Historical fiction

Spirit of Lost Angels Wolfsangel_CoverFinal Becoming Josephine

Spirit of Angels = print + ecopy
Wolfsangel = print + ecopy
Becoming Josephine = print for US/Canada only

Unravelled Ambitious Madame Bonap

Unravelled = print
The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte = print for US/Canada only


The Paris Lawyer The Mona Lisa Speaks

The Paris Lawyer = print for US/Canada only + ecopy
The Mona Lisa Speaks = print for US/Canada only + ecopy


I see London cover Paris Rue des Martyrs - cover final

I See London I See France = print for US/Canada only
Paris, Rue Des Martyrs = ecopy


The Paris Game Moonlight & LoveSongs City of Jasmine

The Paris Game = ebook
Moonlight & Love Songs = ebook
City of Jasmine = signed print copy for US/Canada only

Promise of Provence

The Promise of Provence = ecopy

Nonfiction - memoir

Confessions of a Paris Party Girl - cover

Confessions of a Paris Party Girl = ecopy


April 23 at 5pm Central Time

Spread the word!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

From GA to SC

The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank
: April 1, 2014 by William Morrow & Company
First Published: June 11, 2013
After 30 years of marriage Leslie Carter is considering leaving her husband. Out of their group of friends, all of Leslie friends are gone, due to death or divorce, and she isn't a fan of the new 20-something girls her husband's friends are dating. Considering I am a 20-something myself you wouldn't have expected I would have identify or enjoyed Leslie's perspective, but I didn't find that to be the case at all.

The story starts at therapy seasons of both Leslie and her husband Wesley. The next third of the book paves the road to how they got to the point where therapy was necessary. The final third is their joint therapy session and the aftermath of it all. I definitely thought it was an interesting way to tell the story, starting in the middle, but one I really liked.

I also loved the characters in the book, especially Leslie's brother Harlan. I'm not quite she how to describe him but maybe as Stanford Blatch on Sex and the City meets Lisa Vanderpump on RHOBH.

If I have any complaint about this book, it's that the cover doesn't quite fit the story. Yes, it's pretty light and airy which you do get from the cover, but I wouldn't classify it as at all beach-y. Not really a huge deal, but something I think is important, especially if you go into this looking for a good beach read.

I definitely did enjoy my time with Leslie and her friend, and can't wait to find time to read more from this author.


Disclosure: I was provided this book through TLC Book Tours. All opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday Movie Review

Draft Day
I would say in general I'm a pretty big fan of sports movies (with the top of my list being A League of Their Own and Miracle), so I definitely wanted to see this. But I will say that this is different from any sports movie I've ever seen, since there really isn't any actual action that takes place on an actual field.

About a quarter of the way into the movie, I wasn't quite sure how they were going to be able to keep going. It seemed like everything was close to wrapped up, but of course that wasn't quite the case. I was definitely surprised at just how they were able to keep the movie going to whole time.

I do think if you're a fan of sports movie in general, you'll probably want to see this. Not because it's absolutely amazing, but more because you haven't seen a movie like it.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Mailbox Monday (72)

It's another awesome week of books! It's definitely the week of big name author too! Once again I'm linking up with Mailbox Monday to share the awesome finds I've recently added to my bookshelf.
Mailbox Monday
From Goodreads
The Bodies We Wear by Jeyn Roberts
This is a dark YA book, that I believe takes places sometime in the future. I haven't heard anything about it, although not too surprising considering it doesn't come out till September. Definitely looks intriguing though, and I'm sure as it gets closer to the release date you'll be hearing more from it.

From Paperback Swap
I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
I used to buy every Sophie Kinsella book the week they came out. But as I've gotten more and more into book blogging, and can no longer keep up with the books I receive, I've stopped doing so. But even so, I still have a soft spot of Sophie Kinsella and I've been looking forward to this one for a while now.

For Review from TLC Book Tours
The Heiresses by Sara Shepard
I've never read a single book by Sara Shepard, nor even watched an episode of the tv shows based on her books. But she's clearly an author many people love, and hopefully I'll be joining that group too!

The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
Another author I've never read, but I do at least own the first book in her Maisie Dobbs series. This is a historical fiction from WWI, a period I've been loving lately, which makes me even more excited for it.

For Review from Historical Fiction Book Tours
The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. Rose
Another one I've heard great things about! I know Lisa enjoyed it, and knowing we tend to have very similar tastes in book, makes me think it's one I'll enjoy too.

What did you find in your mailbox this week? And have you read any of these authors

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

You Got Me Grazin

I'm sure buy now you've seen all the subscription boxes that seem to be huge in the blogging community. I've been wanting to try one myself, but I'm not that into beauty supplies or clothes, nor do I have a kid who wants to do fun craft projects. Which is why I was so happy to hear about Graze, a subscription box that sends you snacks, much more my style. Lucky for me, I even found a coupon for my first box. I figured I could try it out and cancel if I hated it. But to keep you out of suspense, I'm definitely keeping my subscription!
My 1st Graze Box
Graze has all of their snacks listed so soon as you join you can rate them all. If there's something you don't want to try, for me that was anything ranch flavored, you can trash it and they won't send it you. You also have the option of rating things Like, Love, or leaving it as Try, and they'll base your boxes on your selection. For me, one of the items I rated as Love was their Toffee Apple which made it into my first box.
Toffee Apple
Graze describes this as sticky toffee sauce with granny smith apple slices, which is most definitely was. There may not have been anything particularly special about the apples themselves, but with the toffee sauce it was pretty magical. For me it was a pretty perfect dessert, especially knowing it's only 70 calories.
Toffee Apple
Actually everything in my box was under 150 calories, but if you want even more detailed nutrictional info on my box you can check it out here.
Raspberry Coconut Muffin
The other dessert-like box I received was raspberry and coconut muffin which included amaretti drops, raspberry infused cranberries, almond slices, and coconut flakes.
Raspberry and Coconut Muffin
Each piece was delicious on its own, although my favorite were the amaretti drops, and I will say eaten together it did taste like a raspberry and coconut muffin.
Morning Energizer
Changing gears from dessert to breakfast was my morning energizer box with cherries, pear, and walnuts. Although it actually could have worked as dessert, but given the name I had to have it for breakfast.
Morning Energizer
This was actually my least favorite box, not because I didn't like it but because there was nothing special about it. It really just was dried pears, dried cherries, and walnuts. Although to put it into perspective, I still rated it Like and all the others as Love.
El Picante
Last but not least was El Picante with jumbo salted corn, hot chili peanuts, and mini paprika breadsticks. If I had an entire bag of this to snack on it likely wouldn't have been enough for me!
El Picante
Lucky for you, if you been wanting to try Graze that I'm about to make you dreams come true. And honestly, I'm getting hungry writing this post, so I imagine you must be getting hungry reading it. I have referral codes that will get you your first and fifth box free, and may also get me $1 off my box, so I'd love it if you decide to try too! My referral code is SHOSHA3MP. Of course you can cancel at any time, but at $6 a box, or $1.50 a snack I don't see why you would!

Do you currently subscribe to any subscription boxes? And are you planning on trying out Graze?

This post is NOT sponsored by Graze. I did find a free coupon code, and do have a referral code above, but all delicious thoughts are my own.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Greece Lightning

When the Cypress Whispers by Yvette Manessis Corporon
Considering that Greece is probably top of my list of countries I'm dying to visit, it's surprising that I so few books set there. I'm sure I've read books there that take place in ancient times, and the in the traveling pants books Greece did make a cameo. But this is the first book I can remember reading in modern day where Greece is where all the action takes, and with that, it's an amazing way to start.

In some ways I want to say that this book transported me to Greece, but that wasn't quite the case. Instead each time I'd read about the beaches or the cypress trees or quaint little villages and sigh because I wasn't quite there. It did bring Greece alive so close that I could taste it, but for me it wasn't quite enough. If only because I actually can't wait to be there myself.

Speaking of taste, the food is also an aspect that had my drooling page after page. As a girl whose favorite snack is slices of feta reading a passage of baked feta that "had been generously drizzled with olive oil and smoky paprika, then topped with just a few slivers of fresh peppers," is practically heaven to me. And that's just at one meal! I was definitely in awe at all the various times food was described throughout and even now am still craving a good Greek meal.

The book did wind up a little predictable, but not in a way I would have expected before reading it. Daphne is a 30-something single mother visiting Greece and her grandmother for this the first time since her childhood. She's still trying to figure out a way to blend her past and her future, something I can definitely identify with. But while I may predicted the big events, I was still surprised that the ending wasn't a perfect happily ever after.

I think you can probably tell, this book had me dying to visit Greece. Hopefully I'm able to get there sooner rather than later, but if I ever need to feel at least somewhat transported there, I'll be picking this one up again.


Disclosure: I was provided this book through TLC Book Tours. All opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Monday Movie Review

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
I never expected to be, but I'm actually a big fan of the Captain America movie. I'm not quite sure what it is, although I'm sure a lot of it has to do with Chris Evans himself.

I do think it's fun watching this at the same time that The Agents of S.H.I.E.D. is on tv. You can already tell how the tv show is going to tie into the movie, which is exciting to see.

And I couldn't help but enjoy Emily VanCamp part, small as it may have been. Although I get the feeling we'll see quite a bit more of her in the third Captain America movie.

I do think these Marvel movies play the best in a big theater. So if you have any desire of seeing it, I'd recommend sooner rather than later.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mailbox Monday (71)

It's another Sunday, which means another day of fabulous books! So yes, I'm once again linking up my new additions with Mailbox Monday!
Mailbox Monday
Won from Goodreads
I'll Take Care of You by Caitlin Rother
This is a True Crime book, something I've never actually before. But the cover looked interesting, so I couldn't help but enter to win. We'll see how I feel about it once I actually read it.

The Boleyn Reckoning by Laura Andersen
I really enjoyed the first in this trilogy when I read it last year. Of course I haven't yet picked up the second book, but now once I do, I'll have the final book waiting for me.

Won from Passages to the Past
Becoming Josephine by Heather Webb
I've actually only read a few novels that take place at Napoleon's court, but I've enjoyed each one. I don't know that I've ever read anything specifically about Josephine though, which is one reason I'm excited for this.

From Paperback Swap
Messenger by Lois Lowry
Back in college I read, and loved, both The Giver and Gathering Blue. I've yet to read the final two in the Giver Quartet, but I figured with the movie coming out, now was the perfect time.

For Review from TLC Book Tours
A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander
This is a Christian Historical Romance that takes place in Nashville around the Civil War. I can't get over and pretty and calming the cover looks and am hoping the story inside is similar.

What did you find in your mailbox this week?

While you're here, don't forget to enter my giveaway for Comfort of Fences by Stacy Overman Morrison!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Mother, Daughter, Friend {Giveaway}

Comfort of Fences by Stacy Overman Morrison
: October 17, 2013 by Telemachus Press
When I first started this book I wasn't actually a huge fan. But I kept reading. Happily about a third of the way into the book I found myself quite enjoying myself. This is definitely one where I'm glad I stuck with it.

Ruth is at the end of her life dying of cancer, but as she approaches the end she realizes she's not sure what will happen to her daughter, Denise, who she's always had to care for because of her special needs. Luckily her best friend, Georgia is able to help with the transition, and also helps to inspire Ruth to write her memoirs.

It was at the point where I started reading the chapters of Ruth's memoirs that my opinion changed on this book. It makes sense in way since that I wasn't able to identify with an 80-year-old dying of cancer. Instead in her memoirs she's in her late teens trying to find her herself. It's also when both Denise and Georgia became a part of her life.

In some ways I think I may have enjoyed the story more if it was only the memoir chapters. But then again, the present day chapters are really what give the rest of the story its framework. I'm not sure if the book would have nearly as much of in impression if we didn't know the reason why Ruth was writing her memoirs.

Obviously, this isn't necessarily a book I fell in love with. But still, looking back on it, I do get a warm fuzzy feeling.


I'm excited to share that I have one copy to giveaway to one of my readers! The winner may choose a print copy (US and Canada only) or ebook. Please use the rafflecopter form below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: I was provided this book through Virtual Author Book Tours. All opinions expressed are my own.

Today I'm linking up with Blonde Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Steak it to Me

Out of all the meals I make semi-regularly the one the boy seems to ask for the most is The Pioneer Woman's Salisbury Steak. I posted it to the blog several times, and while I keep meaning to post a step-by-step version, it hasn't happened yet. But in a way that's a plus since I've been able to modify slightly each time, and I really think this last time worked out the best!

Salisbury Steak
10 oz dried porcini mushrooms
2 cups beef broth
1 cube beef bouillon
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons dry mustard
8 dashes Worcestershire sauce (4 for the steaks and 4 for the sauce)
2 tablespoons ketchup (1 for the steaks and 1 for the sauce)
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Olive Oil and/or butter
(not pictured)

Step 1
1. Over low heat, re-hydrate the mushrooms in the beef broth.
Step 2
2. Crumble the beef bouillon cube.
(As silly as it sounds, I've found this step to be pretty important. I haven't crumbled it all the way before, and you can definitely tell the difference. I've found it's easier to slice of little pieces and then crumble them. And actually some of the pieces in the photo above are probably still a little too big.)
Step 3
3. Combine the beef, crumbled bouillon cube, breadcrumbs, mustard, first 4 dashes of Worcestershire, first tablespoon of ketchup, salt, and pepper in a bowl.
Step 4
4. Use hands to make sure everything is evenly distributed but just mixed.
(You really don't want to over mix since it will mess up the final texture.)
Step 5
5. Form into steaks and start heating up olive oil and/or butter on medium-high. (And yes, I did use both.)
Step 6
6. Cook on each side until almost cooked through. (It may take you more than one batch to get them all cooked.)
Step 7
7. Remove the steaks and add the broth with re-hydrated mushrooms to deglaze the pan.
Step 8
8. Add the second 4 dashes of Worcestershire, the second tablespoon of ketchup, salt, and pepper. Let the sauce cook down a little till it gets to your desired thickness.
(If you wanted you could also add a little more beef broth at this point.)
Step 9
9. Add the steaks back to the pan to heat back up. Serve each steak topped with the mushroom sauce.
Salisbury Steak
There's just something really comforting about Salisbury Steak, and if you can't remember the last time you had one I highly recommend making them soon!

Salisbury Steak
10 oz dried porcini mushrooms
2 cups beef broth
1 cube beef bouillon
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons dry mustard
8 dashes Worcestershire sauce (4 for the steaks and 4 for the sauce)
2 tablespoons ketchup (1 for the steaks and 1 for the sauce)
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Olive Oil and/or butter
1. Over low heat, re-hydrate the mushrooms in the beef broth.
2. Crumble the beef bouillon cube.
3. Combine the beef, crumbled bouillon cube, breadcrumbs, mustard, first 4 dashes of Worcestershire, first tablespoon of ketchup, salt, and pepper in a bowl.
4. Use hands to make sure everything is evenly distributed but just mixed.
5. Form into steaks and start heating up olive oil and/or butter on medium-high.
6. Cook on each side until almost cooked through.
7. Remove the steaks and add the broth with re-hydrated mushrooms to deglaze the pan.
8. Add the second 4 dashes of Worcestershire, the second tablespoon of ketchup, salt, and pepper. Let the sauce cook down a little till it gets to your desired thickness.
9. Add the steaks back to the pan to heat back up. Serve each steak topped with the mushroom sauce.