Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Book Review & Giveaway: Cure for the Common Breakup by Beth Kendrick

Sometimes a novel is more than just a novel. Sometimes it lifts your spirits and helps you get through a rough spot in your life. by Beth Kendrick is one of those books--and its not just because the novel starts with a recipe for a cocktail (although, that does certainly help!)

Summer Benson is a flight attendant whose life literally crashes and burns when her almost-fiance breaks up with her immediately following a near-fatal emergency landing (not cool.) With bruised bones and shattered dreams, she heads off to the only place she's hears can numb the pain--a tiny little seaside town in Delaware known for healing broken hearts. 

And Black Dog Bay really is just what the doctor ordered. The locals know exactly how to help the broken-hearted go through the stages of breakup grief and emerge victorious. Heck, there's even a clothing boutique with outfits arranged in healing stages (start with mumus; end with mini skirts.) And with Summer making friends with the hilarious locals, pursuing the hot mayor, and even tangling with the oldest and wealthiest town curmudgeon, it seems possible that her old wounds may heal and the future won't be so painful after all. 

THE CURE FOR THE COMMON BREAKUP just made me happy and hopeful. Kendrick's writing is fast and witty and she makes everything fall into place as it should--and sometimes you just need that in a book. The novel really is as delicious as the ice cream on the cover, even though maybe it should have been a colorful cocktail on the cover instead! 

*WIN YOUR OWN COPY! Comment below and I will select a winner at random. The contest will run until Monday, May 12th at 11:59pm. Good luck! 

NAL provided me with a copy of this book for review and giveaway. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Book Review & Giveaway: The Island of Doves by Kelly O'Connor McNees

Berkley; April 2014;
Do not let the demure painting on the cover fool you--Kelly O'Connor McNees'  packs quite a punch! I absolutely LOVE this novel. It is one of those rare books that can't put down and whose ending leaves you in pain pining for more.

THE ISLAND OF DOVES is set in 19th Century America, when the grand houses of the wealthy, newly-established Americans stood in a fascinating but fading co-existence with the camps of the Native American peoples. Susannah Fraser belongs to the first group, living in one of Buffalo's stateliest mansions amongst her fine china, jewels, servants, and a husband who spares her no love or kindness.

Following a particularly violent encounter with her husband, a Catholic sister offers Susannah a means of escape. She boards a steamboat across lake Huron toward Mackinac island and toward Magdaleine Fonteneau, a woman hell-bent on securing Susannah's freedom for her own reasons.

Magdaleine is a truly compelling character and based loosely on one of the most successful fur-traders in the Northwest Territory--. McNees' Magdaleine is a wealthy fur trader too, widowed while pregnant with her first child and forced to take the reigns of her late husband's business. She is of direct French and Native American descent, like most of Mackinac's inhabitants, and she can row a boat or tap a tree as well as any man. She also volunteers her time selflessly to teach local girls how to read the catechism. But she struggles with showing any love or maternal instinct toward her now-adult son, and also coming to terms with the tragic death of her two sisters.

These two women--vastly unalike--manage to save each other. They weather many storms, including the possibility that Susannah's husband is on the hunt for her, not always with grace, but with a hearty tenacity that is the hallmark of pioneer women. I found this inspiring! By no means do men play second fiddle, but it is clear that the women in THE ISLAND OF DOVES can take care of themselves and each other.

This expertly-realized pioneer spirit, along with the most natural of dialogue (a difficult task for any author) and a plot that moves at a perfectly addicting pace, makes THE ISLAND OF DOVES a must-read in my book. I truly hope that Kelly O'Connor McNees will be writing a sequel so that we can all find out more of what happens to Susannah, Magdaleine and the crew. In the meanwhile, I've been inspired to do a bit of historical research into this era in American history--thanks for the inspiration, Kelly!

*WIN YOUR OWN COPY! Simply comment below and I will select a winner at random. The contest will end on Monday, April 14th at 11:59pm. Good luck!

Berkley provided me with a copy of this book for review and giveaway. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Adorable Deliciousness -- Bella Sophia Sugar Crafts (West Haverstraw,NY)

This weekend I got to meet Eva, the owner of Bella Sophia Sugar Crafts in West Haverstraw, NY. Besides being drawn over to her vendor booth by her wonderful personality, her table was filled with the cutest little treats! She had rice crispy treats on a stick, pie pops, and a beautiful fondant-covered cake. But I was drawn most in by her awesome assortment of cakes in a jar. Cakes in a jar!! Can you just imagine the party favor possibilities?

Eva makes these cakes in a jar in so many delicious cake and frosting flavors I can't even recite them to you, but think along the lines of red velvet, mocha, coconut mandarin chardonnay (yum.) Check out her website for a full menu and pricing: .

$5 for a 4oz Cake in a Jar
Eva so generously gifted me with a red velvet cake in a jar with buttercream frosting and it was great! While I would order cream cheese frosting with my red velvet cakes (which Bella Sophia Sugar Crafts can certainly provide), I thought the red velvet cake itself was super delicious. And I can just imagine rows of these little cakes in jars set out on a table at a party as favors or as part of a dessert bar.

So check out if you're in the market for something beautiful and yummy for your next gathering.  I know that I'm looking forward to tasting more of her treats! You can also visit on  and check out her amazing cakes with beautiful sugar flowers and expert sculpting work (I love the Super Mario Minion cake!)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

How To: 36棋牌made Refrigerator Build-A-Robot Magnets

Sometimes you need a quick and easy craft on a lazy day; one that doesn't require messy paint or excessive drying time. That's exactly what these refrigerator build-a-robot magnets are. I got the instructions to make these magnets from my super-talented friend and best-aunt-ever Kate over at . Pick up the supplies next time you're at the craft store and save this activity for a rainy/snowy day!


You will need
Adhesive Backed Foam Sheets (we got the sparkly kind)
Adhesive Backed Foam Shapes (optional) 
Adhesive Backed Magnets
Thin Cardboard or Sturdy Cardstock 
Glue (optional) 

1) Cut the adhesive back foamed sheets into shapes to be used as part of the robots' bodies. Big squares and rectangles can be used as robot torsos; long rectangles can be arms and legs; semi-circles and squares can be heads, etc.

2) Remove the adhesive backing from the foam shapes and attach to your cardboard or cardstock. Use your scissors (an exacto-knife would work too) to trim the sturdy backing to the foam shapes.

3) Remove the adhesive backing from your magnets and attach to the back (cardboard/cardstock) of your robot parts. You will want to trim your magnets down into small squares if you bought them in large sheets.

4) Decorate your robot parts with additional foam shapes to make faces, buttons, etc. If you don't have pre-cut foam shapes, you can cut out your own from your foam sheets. You may also want to dab some glue onto the backs of your accesso1ry shapes as the adhesive foam seems to lose its stickiness after a while when attached to other foam pieces.

5) Play with your build-a-robot magnets on a refrigerator or metal cookie sheet!


And that's it, folks! I cut out all the shapes, since my oldest is only four, but both of my boys had a ball sticking the foam to the cardboard for me and decorating the robots. Andrew even came up with his own designs to make the robots look like Transformers (I was impressed!) 

You can also cut out any other shapes that you want. Dolls with interchangeable dresses, cars, geometric shapes, etc. There really isn't a limit to how creative you can get with this craft, and best of all its simple while still being a lot of fun.