What’s the Word Wednesday #1 | Summer

Hello everyone & happy Wednesday!

I’m starting a new segment here on the blog entitled, “What’s the Word Wednesday” where I pick a word and kind of sort of talk about it… you’ll see what I mean ;)

Today’s Wednesday word of the day is Summer (I thought it was appropriate).
I’m using the word, Summer, to tell you 5 fun facts & share with you my 5 most anticipated books to read this summer.

5 Fun Facts about Summer:
  1.  The first day of Summer (which usually falls between the 21st and 23rd of June) is known as the Summer solstice and is celebrated in many religions.
  2. The first day of summer is usually the longest day of the year with more daylight hours than any other day of the year. This year it was the 21st of June.
  3. The month of July is National Ice Cream month & is also the month where Americans purchase and eat the most ice cream.
  4. You can thank Horace Mann for Summer vacation. He was an educator who helped reform the public school system, encouraging a break to help train teachers between school years.
  5. There are 2 holidays in the Summer months – US Independence Day on the 4th of July & Labor Day on the first Monday of September which falls on September 1st this year. Some people consider Memorial Day to also be a Summer holiday but I’m not sure why since it occurs in May… oh well.

5 Most Anticipated Books of Summer:
(In order of release date)

Better Homes & Hauntings by Molly Harper

 I already read this one and even reviewed it - linked here. I was both anxious and excited to read this one & so happy I did! If you're into ghost stories or spent your early years watching Scooby Doo as I did, you will love this book!

Publication date: June 24, 2014

Lucky Peach Issue # 12

 While this is not a novel - but a magazine - I have been collecting all of the Lucky Peach issues as they are released. This one, in particular, has been calling my name with the promise of food and articles related to sunny skies and food largely consumed in the summer heat.

Publication date: August, 2014

Virgin by Radhika Sanghani

 This book was given to me as an Advanced Copy at RT this year by Erin Galloway who was simply raving about this novel. While it's not my typical read, I have only heard amazing reviews of this one and am looking forward to reading and reviewing it closer to its publication date.

Publication date: August 5, 2014

Blood Games by Chloe Neill (Chicagoland Vampires, #10)

 After the last CV book was released, I've been dying to see what's next in the world of Merit and Ethan. #hotbooksofsummer

Publication date: August 5, 2014

The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost

 Of course this book comes out closer to the end of summer. What's the problem? Well, thank you for asking. I cannot wait to read this one. Seriously, it mocks me, sitting on my nightstand, knowing that I've sworn off reading it until a week before its publication date. I'm only doing this because it will prevent me from waiting longer for the next book in the series to be released. This - I know - is assuming I will enjoy it and kind of makes me worried because I know I'm hyping it up, myself. But as a 15 year old me used to say so often it became my mantra, "whatever".
I'm a massive fan of Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series and I am dying to dive into another one of Frost's worlds.

Publication date: August 26, 2014

Also, let me know which books you're excited to start reading this Summer - SO many good ones coming out that it was not easy for me to narrow it down to these 5.

So, that's it. Hope you enjoyed this post & I'll be seeing you, soon!

&& here is where you can find me on the interwebz:

Until next time-



    Early Review: Better Homes and Hauntings by Molly Harper & Book Blogger Buzz

    Hello & happy Monday.
    If you celebrate the Solstice, Merry Litha!

    This post will feature a book review and some exciting news at the end... enjoy :)

    At the Romantic Times Convention this year, I had the good fortune to sit through a panel on the history of New Orleans where the panelists asked the audience questions. If you answered correctly, you got your pick of the books available. And, as fate would have it (or the effects of peer pressure), I picked this one:

    This is my first Molly Harper book and I was a bit worried about reading it. My friends have hyped her previous novels and absolutely love all of them. Yes, that's right - all of them. I was uneasy about reading this because I was worried I wouldn't enjoy it as much as my friends thought I would (and/or at all) and concerned about their reaction if that happened to be the case. Also, doesn't it happen to you that when something is hyped too much, it has the tendency to fall flat? I was both excited and anxious to start this book. Here's the blurb on the back cover:
    When Nina Linden is hired to landscape a private island off the New England coast, she sees it as her chance to rebuild her failing business after being cheated by her unscrupulous ex. She never expects that her new client, software mogul Deacon Whitney, would see more in her than just a talented gardener. Deacon has paid top dollar to the crews he’s hired to renovate the desolate Whitney estate—he had to, because the bumps, thumps, and unexplained sightings of ghostly figures in nineteenth-century dress are driving workers away faster than he can say “Boo.”
    But Nina shows no signs of being scared away, even as she experiences some unnerving apparitions herself. And as the two of them work closely together to restore the mansion’s faded glory, Deacon realizes that he’s found someone who doesn't seem to like his fortune more than himself—while Nina may have finally found the one man she can trust with her bruised and battered heart.
    But something on the island doesn't believe in true love…and if Nina and Deacon can’t figure out how to put these angry spirits to rest, their own love doesn't stand a ghost of a chance.

     Nina is a landscaper and is hired by billionaire, Deacon Whitney, to work on an abandoned -and haunted- house owned by his ancestors over a hundred years ago. To become a part of the team to help renovate the house, Nina and the rest of the hired team are required to live on property until the house is completely remodeled -which could take months to finish. She slowly but easily becomes friends with the OCD queen, Cindy, Deacon, his friend Jake and his cousin, Dotty. 
    Together, they become a close-knit team, working together to a achieve a common goal. Unfortunately, the house they are working on is haunted. The hostile ghosts of Deacon and Dotty's ancestors are said to roam the halls of the house, rumored to be because of an affair gone deadly (you know that pun was intended).
    Fast forward to the present, the current living inhabitants of the house are witnessing the leftover paranormal energies these ghosts have left behind and trying to solve this century-long mystery.
    Through out the mystery and paranormal elements in the novel, you can find romance as well. Deacon and Nina begin to hit it off as well as some pent-up sexual tension and history between Cindy and Jake. 
    Better Homes and Hauntings is a hilarious, sexy and unique story for any and all old-school Scooby Doo fans out there. All in all, Molly Harper has created a ghost story where the ghosts are in fact, real (or as real as ghosts can be) and the only uncovering at the end of this mystery is the mystery itself. 

    Definitely loved this book and enjoyed her prose so much that I am looking forward to picking up some of her previous novels.

    Basic info. about this book:

    Name: Better Homes and Hauntings
    Author: Molly Harper
    Publishing Company: Pocket Books
    Publication Date: June 24, 2014
    Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal Romance, Mystery, Fantasy
    Rating (out of 5): 5.0

    Recommend? Yes

    Where it can be purchased:
    Author's website:
    Author on goodreads: goodreads

        On to the big announcement..

    The Book Blogger Buzz Tour is coming here!

    Starting in July, a group of book bloggers are uniting together to talk books, blogging and everything in between. All sorts of book bloggers, all kinds of topics! We don't discriminate. And we want you to join the discussions! Follow the tour, join in on the conversation and maybe even win a Kindle Fire or equal Amazon GC or Paypal cash. Winners choice.

    Book Bloggers promoting Book Bloggers!

    It all beings July 1st!
    I'm a particpating blogger!
    Follow the Tour:
    07/01/14 .............................................................. Mama Kitty Reviews appearing on Me & Reading Topic: Reading for Enjoyment vs. Reading for Reviewing - the difference in the reading for enjoyment and the toll that reading review copies had done to our hobby. 07/02/14 .............................................................. Me & Reading appearing on Contagious Reads Topic: Why are you a reader? 07/03/14 .............................................................. Raw Books Online appearing on Delicously Wicked Books Topic: What I look for in the book blogs I follow 07/04/14 .............................................................. Reading is my Treasure appearing on Jenna does Books Topic: What YA has taught me / how it has affected my life 07/07/14 .............................................................. Chapter Break appearing on Reading with ABC Topic: Ten reasons you CAN'T read and you are dying on the inside. 07/09/14 .............................................................. Contagious Reads appearing on Reading Black & White Topic: Organization tips and tricks 07/10/14 .............................................................. Second Run Reviews appearing on Bibliognome Topic: Books you feel need more attention. A top ten list. Tell why you think they need to be read by everyone. 07/11/14 .............................................................. Fiktshun appearing on Once Upon a Twilight Topic: Rant: Things you wish others would stop "judging" other book bloggers on 07/14/14 .............................................................. Bibliognome appearing on Chapter Break Topic: You've been asked to write a short story starring a gnome character, what would the gnome be named and how would the story go? 07/15/14 .............................................................. Gwynn White appearing on Reading is my Treasure Topic: What last books in a trilogy or series do you wish you had never read? Why? 07/16/14 .............................................................. Reading with ABC appearing on Ali's Bookshelf Reviews Topic: Your Favorite Blogger Moment. Recount it. 07/17/14 .............................................................. Reading Black & White appearing on My Midnight Fantasies Topic: What are those wonderful things you see in other blogger's reviews and think are wonderful? Or what do you like to see in other blogger's reviews? 07/18/14 .............................................................. Ali's Bookshelf Reviews appearing on Second Run Reviews Topic: Your Biggest Blogger Fail. Recount it. 07/21/14 .............................................................. Parajunkee appearing on Midnyte Reader Topic: Are you creative or just depressed? A mental survival guide for bloggers. 07/22/14 .............................................................. Deliciously Wicked Books appearing on Stephanie's Book Reports Topic: After Fifty Shades. What's the next big thing? 07/23/14 .............................................................. Stephanie's Book Reports appearing on Raw Books Online Topic: What trends do you hope are popular next in Romance/Erotica? 07/24/14 .............................................................. Jannelle Reads appearing on Parajunkee Topic: What trends do you want to see next in book blogging? 07/25/14 .............................................................. Midnyte Reader appearing on Harlequin Junkie Topic: Audiobooks vs. ...regular books? 07/28/14 .............................................................. Jenna does Books appearing on Fiktshun Topic: Hardcover vs. Paperback 07/29/14 .............................................................. Once Upon a Twilight appearing on Gwynn White Topic: Rant: Things you wish other book bloggers would stop doing 07/30/14 .............................................................. My Midnight Fantasies appearing on Mama Kitty Reviews Topic: My favorite animals to read about in fiction - or my favorite paranormal shifter characters and why. 07/31/14 .............................................................. Harlequin Junkie appearing on Janelle Reads Topic: Dealing with your first negative review from an author you've enjoyed connecting with on social networks.  

    Yay! Can't wait to get started and be a part of this amazing event. And don't forget, you can win a Kindle Fire, Amazon gift card, or CASH by just following our blog posts!

    Also, please be sure to let me know if you pick up this book & what you think!

    && here is where you can find me on the interwebz:

    Until next time-



    Mid-June Updates & Food Faves

    Hello & happy Tuesday!
    And thank god this isn't a vlog because I kind of had to stop and think about what day it is.

    Also, Happy [belated] Father's Day!

    I thought that since I didn't really have a book review or recipe planned in the last week or so, I would update you on little things that will be happening semi-soon along with sharing with you some of my faves food-wise because why not? Yup. Exactly.

    So, I warned you all that I would be semi-absent in June because work is kicking my ass. We are so incredibly busy - which is so bizarre for June - and mixing that with some personal stuff and yeah. 
    But no worries! July is approaching fast & starting just next week I have some release-day reviews, early reviews, guest posts and mash-up Mondays planned that I am so excited to have you all read and be a part of.

    Speaking of updates, you can expect a new blog layout semi-soon and if you didn't notice from the previous post, higher-quality pictures for any and all recipe posts.

    I've mostly just updated recipes and book reviews because I think I was trying to find my voice within the blog for the first 6 months. Now that I feel pretty comfortable with updates and the like, I think I will start posting some personal...ish posts. In the Book Blogger tour I'm participating in July, we will be covering some interesting topics and I'm just thinking that I have more going on in this little head of mine than just thoughts on books and recipes and I would like to share that with the world so we can all discuss these topics, together.
    Because really, this is the whole reason I started this blog - discussing and discovering new books and ideas and meeting new people.

    So yeah, that's my shpeel.

    And because I feel like I have to share some yummy stuff I've been loving, here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure:

    I'm not sure if this is out in stores yet? I believe that it was sent as a sample and I was just lucky enough to try it. I will, however, be checking out Whole Foods for this because it was absolutely delicious and chewy and not too sweet and just yum. Definitely need to buy a box of these.

    OK. This almond butter? Heaven. I usually serve it alongside an apple and that's a meal. I also put a tablespoon (or two) in my smoothies and eat it alone if I'm in need of some emotional support because yeah, it does that.

    These scrumptious chocolate chip cookies are nut && gluten free! They taste similar* (but not exactly) to Chips Ahoy cookies and I can eat 3 bags of these without feelings like I have over done my sweet fix of the day. Also, I'm not allergic to gluten but I feel like my body is a bit sensitive to it so I try to eat as gluten-free as possible without completely avoiding it... hope that makes sense!

    These candies were a gift from my friend Monica and they were so delicious that I had to share them with everyone immediately around me. Which then left me wanting more candies.
    This pear and cinnamon flavor makes you feel like you're sucking on a poached pear - delicious!
    It is also dairy, gluten, soy, nut, sugar and GMO free. :)

    Keeping it short and sweet, I'll end the post here and leave you with a quote that inspires me when I'm wondering why the heck life throws so many curve-balls my way and am feeling a bit hopeless.

    && here is where you can find me on the interwebz:

    Until next time-



    Mash-Up Monday #1 - Early Review & Recipe | Asian Pickles by Karen Solomon

    Hello everyone and happy Monday!

    This first week of June was seriously intense at work & only going to further its intenseness so if I seem a bit lost in June - you were forewarned.

    So, I received this advanced copy on net galley in exchange for an honest review. (disclaimer and all that)

    This isn't going to be a typical review as seen in previous posts. Mostly, I just wanted to let you know that I genuinely liked it. Had I seen it at Barnes & Noble or online at Amazon or, I would still have purchased it. I think it is a great book for beginners as it does a great job at giving little tips and tricks, along with simple-to-follow recipes. I also like that it covers a semi-wide range of countries - Chine, Korea, Indonesia, Japan and other countries.
    Granted, this is an Asian pickling book so you are going to see items that you might not be familiar with. Luckily, there seems to be an Oriental Market in almost every big city in the US... if not five.
    The only down side to this book is that there were not as many pictures as I would like. When it comes to cooking books/magazines, I need to see those pictures! To me, cooking is such a sensual experience and your eyes are a big part of this - especially when you are attempting a recipe you haven't made before.

    Basic info about this book:

    Name: Asian Pickles
    Author: Karen Solomon
    Publishing Company: Ten Speed Press
    Genre: Cooking, Food & Wine
    Rating (out of 5): 4.0

    Recommend? Yes

    Where it can be purchased:

    Author's website:
    Author on goodreads:   goodreads

    And now I can share with you one of the recipes that intrigued me the most in the cookbook:

    Pickled Asian Pear with Lemon
    Adapted from Asian Pickles cookbook by Karen Solomon

    Ingredient List
    2 pounds Asian Pears (about 4 pears and can be substituted for any firm, sweet pear)
    1 1/2 cups White Sugar
    1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
    4 (2-inch) pieces of Lemon Zest
    1 cup White Wine Vinegar
    Juice of 1 Lemon
    2 Tablespoons Mirin
    1 teaspoon Ground Ginger - the original recipe calls for 4 slices of pickles ginger but my honey & I aren't big fans. We tried it with the powdered ginger and loved the turnout. Might use a tablespoon of ground ginger next time, though.

    Start off by peeling and cutting your pears into quarters.
    Then, core them.

    Set them aside.

    I really wanted a good picture here so you could see how I got those strips of lemon zest - the trick is to use a peeler! If you don't have one, use your knife but be careful of having too much white pith as it can cause your liquid to become bitter.

    Now, combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, ginger, sugar, salt, vinegar, mirin, and ground ginger in a sauce pan. 
    Whisk together and place cut/quartered pears in this brining liquid.

    In the mean time, fill another sauce pot with water and bring to a boil (about 2 quarts should be enough here).
    As the water comes to a boil, add the pears with a slotted spoon. Here, you want to make sure to leave as much brine behind, as possible. DO NOT DISCARD BRINE as we will come back to this, later.

    Reducing the heat to create a simmer.
    Now simmer the pears for 8-10 minutes. The initial recipe post said this would take roughly 6 minutes. I found that after the initial 6, the pears needed more time. 

    You want to make sure that the pears are able to be pierced by a fork but not mushy. They are going to continue cooking after they are taken out of the water so if they are a little on the firm side after those initial 8 minutes, it's OK.

    After the pears are cooked, be sure to drain them and transfer them to your vessel of choice.
    Karen recommends 2 clean 1-pint jars though I used the only one I had available - 1 2-quart jar. Oops.

    Set aside.
    Going back to the brining liquid, bring to a boil, stirring semi-frequently to help dissolve the sugar. Approximately 2 minutes.

    As soon as it starts to boil, you can take the liquid off the heat and divide the liquid -and its contents- evenly among both jars or simply place it all into one jar as I did.
    If you happen to have any leftover brining liquid, Solomon recommends combining it with your favorite salad oil and creating an easy vinaigrette for your next salad.

    As soon as you finish pouring your brining liquid over your pears, tighten the lid and let sit outside in room temperature for 24 hours and then placing them in the refrigerator.
    Solomon says that they will keep their flavor for a month while kept in the refrigerator and the color of the pears/liquid will begin to change after two weeks.
    Solomon also recommends eating them after 5 days though you are able to begin chowing down after 3... Needless to say, I only waited 3 days and oh man were these pears delicious!

    What can you eat these with?
    Salad with lemon vinaigrette, chicken, roasted pork, chicken salad sandwiches - you name it!

    And there you have it - Pickled Asian Pears with lemon :)

    Thank you for sticking 'til the end of our first Mash-Up Monday with a recipe && a book review in one! Hope you enjoyed it & we'll be talking soon.

    Until next time, here is where you can find me on the interwebz:



    Smoothie Making 101

    Hello there & Welcome, June!

    Since we are heading into Bikini Season & it seems as though the older we get, the more health-conscious we get as well, I thought it would be a great idea to share with you one of my favorite smoothies I conjure up for myself as a meal replacement or a simple, healthy snack.

    I usually have smoothies for breakfast. I pre-make them the night before and take them with me to work. 
    One thing I think that every one needs to keep in mind is that smoothies aren't supposed to look good (at least the ones that are good for you, packed with plenty of veggies and some fruits), but they are supposed to taste delicious.

    Ingredients, in order to be placed in the blender:
    Blueberries, frozen 1/4 cup
    Baby Kale (or any mixed hearty greens) 1/4 of a 5 oz. container or about 2 cups, pressed heavily into the cups.
    Half of a banana, frozen
    Peas & Carrots, frozen 1/4 cup
    Unsweetened Acai Smoothie Pack Blend, 1/2 bar
    Maple Almond Butter 1 heaping Tablespoon
    Chia Seeds 1 tsp (optional)
    Flax Seeds 1 tsp (optional)
    Orange Juice, enough to cover the ingredients, about 1 1/2 cups (can be replaced with any other juice - see below for recommended juice substitutes)

    For a meal replacement, add your desired protein powder. I used the Vitamin Shoppe NEXT STEP: Fit N' Full Shake in Fresh Berries.

    In the ingredient list, I mentioned that the green should be packed down. This is very important! If you do not pack it down, you will only fit in about 1/4 to 1/2 of the fore-mentioned amount for greens.
    Also, don't be scared! I promise you won't even taste them. We have so many other fruits and sweet stuff going into this smoothie that they will be lost in the background without losing any of their good-for-you properties.

    I like to add the blueberries first. Since I am using a NutriBullet and whatever I place in the blender is then turned upside-down, I like to have something semi-heavy to push the greens down. 
    If you skip this step and just place the greens at the bottom, you might need to stop blending, shake, and continue blending the ingredients to make sure everything is evenly distributed and well-blended throughout the shake.

    If you are using a standard blender and not one similar to my NutriBullet, I would still recommend placing the ingredients in, in this order.

    I know that some of these ingredients seem a bit odd - frozen peas and carrots, in particular - but I think it is one of the best ways of getting an extra dose of veggies in your body without sacrificing flavor. And really, carrots and peas are some of the sweetest veggies so all it does is add a natural sweetness to your smoothie and help keep it nice and chilled, as well.

    I also like to add almost any fruit or veggie that has been frozen. Usually, these frozen bits of goodness are frozen at the peak of their season. This guarantees that you will be consuming any and all vitamins, antioxidants and ultimate deliciousness from said fruit/vegetable. Also, using fruits and vegetables that are frozen guarantees you a cold smoothie too. ;)

    Can I fan-girl about a food item for a second? This Maple Almond Butter is so delicious! And only 4 ingredients. Did you hear me? FOUR INGREDIENTS! It's on the pricey side ($11 for 16 oz at my local grocery store) but sooo worth it.
    I add a heaping tablespoon into my shake for some natural protein and yummyness. And yes, yummyness is a word.

    In regards to the protein element of the shake, If you are looking to create this as a meal-replacement, almost any protein powder will do. This is the one I like to add to my smoothies:

     I recommend a berry-flavored one or a vanilla flavored protein powder so that it doesn't compete with the fruit and vegetable flavors being blended into your smoothie. Chocolate flavored protein powder, in this case, is not a good idea.

    So, after placing everything in the blender and, ya know... blending... you're done! I love smoothies! So easy and simple to make. Who needs a 30 minute meal when you can have a 5 minute one, instead? 

    Also, I would like to add that you do not have to use orange juice. I used it here because that is just what I had in my fridge. I've used coconut water, carrot juice, apple juice, cranberry and beet juice before - all awesome.

    Remember to be creative! If you don't have these particular fruits and vegetables in your fridge/freezer, use what you do have! I love adding strawberries, mangoes and coconut pulp when I have them available. 

    Wishing you all a happy & healthy June!

     Talk to you very soon :)



    Some Personal Blogging

    Hello beautiful people of the interwebz :) 

    Before I start, I would like to mention here that my giveaway has been postponed. I would like to do the giveaway mid-month to include a Kindle Paperwhite and some other awesome books procured at RT 2014. :)

    I stumbled upon this quote recently and I think it described my relationship with certain books, perfectly.

    So this is where it all comes from. This is what I’m made of – words. These stories I have been transported to have entertained me and filled me with contentment in ways I never thought possible in the third grade, always starting a book but never finishing it. 

    I hope you all have something that centers and grounds you the way books do for me. :)

    Sending lots of love and happy thoughts to any and all out there.


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