Sunset Reads: William & Cristina

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Sunset Reads: William & Cristina (Sunset Reads #1) by D.C. Triana

Since the death of her mentor and surrogate mother and having been publicly dumped by her boyfriend; romance novelist Cristina Cruz has had a hard time writing a new book.

Romance is hard to imagine when your life feels bleaker than bleak.

To add to her pain and frustration, the new owner of Sunset Reads, her publishing company, and son of her mentor, William Jameson, is back in New York City and trying to completely make over the company from top to bottom. This includes demanding a new novel from Cristina, and insulting the few pages she has written. Cristina cannot believe that his mother ever thought these two were meant to be and plotted to put them together. With all this drama and pain it appears the only thing she has to look forward to is an attractive blind date, set up by one of her best friends.

William Jameson has not had the easiest life. It started with watching his mother throw her life into turmoil when she married an abusive man, Christopher. After spending years of him also being emotionally and physically abused by the man, he left home. He at first joined the military, later achieving his business degree in England, and even having a short stint as a novelist under a pseudonym. Now he is back in New York for good and eager to take over his mother’s company, revolutionize it, and carry on her legacy. He clashes with many of the employees and writers; none as bad as with Cristina Cruz; as he prepares to march the company into the modern world. He hasn’t really been in a relationship since the death of his fiancé, but is interested in this blind date his neighbor is setting him up with.

Both are shocked to find themselves paired with each other; Cristina deciding that she will do all she can to avoid the man as much as possible; while William is just as determined to pursue her. But whatever each other’s feelings are, they soon find out that they are going to be tied in ways they never would have expected. William’s mother set up a very tricky will in order to cut out her abusive ex-husband Christopher, who provided the original start up capitol and owns a percentage of the company. With her death her shares are divided between William and Cristina, making them both major owners in the company; and forcing the two to spend a lot of time together in reinventing Sunset Reads.

But the most interesting clause of the will, is that if William was to have a child all of the stock that William’s ex-stepfather was given would revert to that child.

Christopher is enraged when he discovers all the particulars and sets out to destroy William, the company, and whoever stands in his way for power. William finds himself making some hard choices. Should he peruse Cristina, the love of his life, subsequently endangering her? And if he does pursue her will Cristina only think it is because he wants to have a child and cut out his ex-stepfather? Or should he give up in his pursuit and allow the woman he loves to live a safe life with another man?

I wonder…

Thoughts After Reading:

I have to admit this book really surprised me. At first I thought it was just going to be another clichéd romance novel that would be dull in it’s predictability. Instead I found myself enjoying the way the author D.C. Triana wrote these characters; their traits coming off as more as comfortable rather than feeling overdone.

I also really enjoyed reading about the publishing world and the other side of writing. As one who knows very little about the path a novel travels from written idea to being out in stores; I thought it was fascinating the information presented in this novel, taking it in a completely different direction then most.

I also enjoyed the suspenseful aspects of this novel. From reading the description I never thought that it would take such a mysterious and thrilling turn as William and Cristina find themselves threatened and having to outwit a cunning adversary. It made it rather hard to stop reading as the reader becomes entangled in trying to find out if they will overcome such a ruthless person and his plots.

I’d have to give this book a four out of five stars to reward its interesting characters, different perspectives, and the ability to surprise the reader.

For more mysteries revolving around romance novelists, go to Murder at Oklahoma

For more mystery reviews, go to Miss Polly Had a Dolly

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Flæskeæggekage

Thoughts Before Cooking:

Willow Rose is Danish as am I. So I thought what better than to try out a recipe from The Cooking of Scandinavia from the Time-Life books food around the world series.

In Danish, Flæskeæggekage (FLES-keh-egeh-KAH-geh) means bacon and egg cake. I never heard of it or tasted it before, but thought why not try it out? It sounded good, after all who doesn’t like bacon and eggs?

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb of Bacon, preferably Danish
  • 6 Eggs, Lightly Beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon of Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/2 Cup of Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons of Chives, finely cut

Directions:

  1. Cut the long strips of bacon in half crosswise and fry them over moderate heat in a heavy 10 to 12 inch skillet.
  2. Do not let them get too crispy.
  3. Drain the strips on paper towels and set them on an ovenproof platter or baking dish and keep warm in a 200 degree F oven.
  4. Remove all but a tablespoon of the clear bacon fat from the skillet.
  5. In a mixing bowl, beat the flour and salt into the eggs only long enough to combine them.
  6. Slowly beat in the milk.
  7. Warm the fat in the skillet over moderate heat and then pour in the egg mixture.
  8. Turn the heat down to low and without stirring let the eggs set into a firm custard. (This will take about ~20 minutes.)
  9. When finished, turn off the flame and arrange bacon slices and chives over the top of the finished cake.
  10. Serve directly from the pan; as a first course, brunch, or late-supper dish.

So this is what it looked like when the eggs were finished cooking:

And here is what they look like when finished:

Thoughts After Cooking:

So I thought it was fantastic.

I thought it was a tad salty, and the next time probably wouldn’t add any salt to it. Otherwise it was delicious and goes great when paired with a salad.

For more egg main dishes, go to Herbed Eggs with Sour Cream

For more Time Life recipes, go to Bulghur Salad

For more breakfast food recipes, go to Twin Sun Toast

For more recipes, go to REESE’S PIECES Peanut Butter Cookies

Miss Polly Had a Dolly

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Miss Polly Had a Dolly (Emma Frost #2) by Willow Rose

Thoughts Before Reading:

This was the first of the Emma Frost mysteries I ever read. While I enjoyed it, it is not for the faint of heart. Rose can write a strong story, but she can go way out there and deep down dark.

The format of these mysteries has to do with two to three story lines, that all connect at the end and provide the solution to the mystery. One has to do with the people involved or victims of the mystery; and the other Emma Frost and her family.

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So this title comes from the nursery rhyme, Miss Polly Had a Dolly.

Miss Polly had a dolly who was sick, sick, sick.
So she called for the doctor to come quick, quick, quick.
The doctor came with his bag and his hat
And he knocked on the door with a rat-a-tat-tat.
He looked at the dolly and he shook his head
And he said “Miss Polly, put her straight to bed!”
He wrote on a paper for some pills, pills, pills
“I’ll be back in the morning with my bill, bill, bill.”

The story begins in 1997 with Miss Polly and her little girl Nina. Six-year-old Nina is a beautiful blonde child, perfect. Her mother loves to dress her up like a doll and implements all kinds of rules to make sure she stays “perfect”.

This day Nina is not happy going to the park in her frou frou dress. She doesn’t like wearing them and wants to dress in pants like the other normal children but her mom won’t let her.

They are at the park and Nina is having a horrible time when she sees an ice cream truck. She goes up to it and is convinced to get inside. And when she is inside, there is no ice-cream.

In modern times of 2013, Emma Frost is at the signing of her newest book Itsy Bitsy Spider, all about the cannibal serial killer who turned out to be related to Emma. (I don’t want to spoil everything so check out my review, or read it yourself).

Life for Emma is going well as all is normal (although a few people are angry about the story coming out). Her father though has a surprise for her, a new girlfriend, Helle.

Meanwhile, the island of Fanø has been picked as the next place for the TV program, Shooting Star, the Danish version of American Idol or the X Factor. The host is Patrick an eccentric, out there type of guy. While he is a prima donna-interesting and stylish; he is also a serial killer, sewing doll bows into his kills. And he has just found his newest victim.

Emma is having a hard time coming to term with her father’s new girlfriend, Helle, who owns a doll shop. Even though her mother left a long time ago and she knows that they won’t get back together, it feels weird to her having him date. What makes it even more awkward, is when Emma asks Helle about her family, it turns out that her daughter went missing years ago. She was a beautiful blonde six-year old, playing at the park and said to have wandered off into the ocean.

Hmm…

Back in 1997, Miss Polly was distracted by a another parent talking to her. She finally is able to cut the conversation short, but her daughter is gone! She searches everywhere, but all she can find is her daughter’s dolly, Miss Jasmine.

In 2o13, Emma and Sophie are excited for Shooting Star. Two of Sophie’s kids are going to try out for the show, while Emma’s daughter Maya has been given permission to hang out around the set.

Meanwhile, Josephine Glydenstjerne, blonde, beautiful, and six years old; daughter of the Count and Countess of Denmark has finally managed to sneak away from her governess to go past the park to the beach. There she meets a lady with a dog. Besides the dog, the lady has a doll named Miss Jasmine. She invites Josephine to come to her place to see her other dolls that she makes, and Josephine decides to go.

Uh-oh

Back in 1997, Nina is thrown into a brothel. She has been caught up in a prostitution ring that takes blonde, beautiful children from Denmark and sends them to Eastern Europe to where they are in high demand. She lives her life there, depressed and confused thinking she was given up by her mother.  But when a friend is murdered in a sex act; Nina kills the man and decides to get out; making anyone who stands in her way pay for it. She grows to enjoy killing as it gives her power and control.

In 2013, Emma discovers that numerous blonde, six-year old children have disappeared from the ’90s- late 2000s. Most people thought they just wandered off to the ocean and drowned., but Emma can’t help wondering if there might be something else to it?

Meanwhile in her hacking, she discovers that the police are searching for the “Bowtie Serial Killer”. They believe the killer to be connected with the show, Shooting Stars, as the killings occur in areas where the show is taking auditions. Whether crew or a crazy fan, they are searching into who it could be.

I wonder…

Josephine has found herself in a Buffalo Bill-esque situation. Although instead of wanting her skin to make a suit, the lady who kidnapped her wants to use her to make a doll and add it to her collection.

Emma sets out to try and figure out who the killer is and whether it might be connected to the missing children. However, she unwittingly allows her daughter to attend the Shooting Star tryouts on her own. Maya just barely manages to miss being a bow tie victim the fist time, but then is invited backstage the next night for a close encounter with Patrick.

Nooo!

Patrick goes to Helle’s doll shop and attacks her, but is interrupted just in time. When they take Helle to the hospital, Emma knows she is connected to the mystery, but which one? Could she be the missing link that ties the disappearing girls and the bow tie killer? But then Helle lost her own child?

I wonder…

How does it connect? How will it end? Read to find out.

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Thoughts After Reading:

This book is probably the best written of her books in this series. There were a lot of twists and turns, and every time you think you had it figured out there was a new surprise.

Some parts were a little more graphic then I would like but that seems to be how Scandinavians like to write.

And not only was it a talented psychological thriller, but it also had a political agenda. I had never heard of the slave trade in Europe other than those who try to emigrate to America. But in here, Rose brings your attention to the sex slave trade throughout Europe, a very sad thing that more people need to pay attention to and try to change.

For more Emma Frost mysteries, go to The Itsy Bitsy Spider

For more mysteries with a serial killer, go to The Final Seven

For more characters fighting to save people from sex slavery, go to A Most Peculiar Circumstance

For more mysteries, go to Whistling in the Dark

REESE’S PIECES Peanut Butter Cookies

Thoughts Before Baking:

So I wanted to make a certain cookie, but it turns out that the baker’s chocolate I had was over a year past the due date.

I had a bunch of candy that was given to me and wanted to make cookies with them. After some searching I finally found REESE’S PIECES Peanut Butter Cookies from the website Hershey’s Kitchen.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup (1 Stick) of Butter
  • 1/2 Cup of Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup of Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup of Peanut Butter
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup of Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1 Cup of REESE’S PIECES Candies

Directions:

  1. Preheat the Oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Beat the butter, sugar, brown sugar, peanut butter, egg, vanilla extract in a large bowl until fluffy.
  3. Stir together flour, baking soda, and salt; adding to the butter mixture and beating until blended.
  4. Stir in candies.
  5. Drop by a tablespoonful unto a greased cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until brown.
  7. Cool slightly, then place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Thoughts After Baking:

It was pretty sticky trying to move from the tablespoon to the sheet, so just fair warning.

Now I’m not really a REESE’S PIECES person, but I really liked how they tasted. It was a good mix, and not too overpowering in peanut butter.

For more peanut butter cookies, go to 1-2-3-4 Peanut Butter Cookies

For more cookies, go to Aunt Neal’s Old-Fashioned Tea Cakes

For more desserts, go to Vanilla Crackle

For more peanut butter recipes, go to Rice Krispies Peanut Butter Banana

Whistling in the Dark

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Whistling in the Dark by Lesley Kagen

Sally O’Malley promised on her father’s deathbed to tell her sister Margaret “Troo” O’Malley that he forgives her and to keep her safe. But that will be harder than she thinks.

During the summer of 1959, the girl’s mother is hospitalized with a staph infection, their stepdad abandons them, their big sister Nell is too preoccupied with her boyfriend, and their is a murderer and molester on the loose.

Sally may have a big imagination, but she is sure she knows who the killer is.

She is just as sure that she is on the list.

And know it is up to her to keep her sister and her safe.

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Thoughts After Reading:

I didn’t care for this book at all.

I didn’t like the style it was written in and I didn’t like how it markets itself as more of a suspense when in reality it is actually tale of two girls growing up in 1959 Milwaukee.

Ugh, really?

I thought it was boring and a waste of my time.

For more historical fiction, go to Murder and the First Lady

For more mysteries not in a series, go to Murder at Oklahoma

For more mystery reviews, go to Dust to Dust

Dust to Dust

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Dust to Dust (Kovac and Liska Mysteries #2) by Tami Hoag

Thoughts Before Reading:

While I enjoyed the character of Kate in Ashes to Ashes, I thought the dynamic of Officer Kovac and Liska was just dynamite. I think Hoag realized this too, and that’s why she switched to making the rest of the series about them.

And while I did enjoy this book, let me warn you it is not for the faint of heart. It can be graphic at times in descriptions and language. Of course I won’t be in my review, but if you decided to read it afterwards, you were warned.

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Internal Affairs Minneapolis Officer Andy Fallon was found dead in his home from hanging himself. One word was left on the mirror, Sorry.

Where is the treasure?!

Was it auto-erotic asphyxia  gone wrong?

Or a suicide, sorry, being the note?

As his father is considered a hero, shot and injured in the line of duty; and most knew that Andy was gay; the department heads decide it is better to qualm any gossip by ending the investigation quickly and moving toward a funeral.

However, this doesn’t sit right with Officer Kovac. Even though it isn’t in his jurisdiction, he decides to start looking into the death for Andy’s father, Mike Fallon. Mike was Kovac’s mentor and he feels he owes it to him to discover the truth.

Liska agrees to their “uninvestigating” and as they begin digging, cracks start to form. They uncover multiple suspects, coming from both the police department and internal affairs.

But the department is not pleased with this investigation as they want this whole case to “go away”. With Captain Ace Wyatt leaving Minneapolis for Hollywood, and Mike having been through so much already; everything would be better if it was just left alone.

But that’s not Kovac and Liska’s style, and as they decide to root out the truth, they discover that Andy was looking into the case of when his father was shot.

WHAT!

Could this two month old death have anything to do with what happened over twenty years ago?

I wonder…

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Thoughts After Reading:

Once again Hoag hits it out of the park. She created an interesting and suspenseful story that keeps you on the edge of your seat to discover whodunit.

So we as a reader know from the beginning that Andy was murdered. While some books it can be annoying or feel too drawn out waiting for the other characters to reach this realization, the way Hoag wrote it just intensified the rest of the book as we all eagerly read to discover which of our potential suspects was the killer.

While I figured out most of the resolution, Hoag still had a few twists I didn’t see coming.

For more Kovac and Liska Mysteries, go to Ashes to Ashes

For more retrograde mysteries, go to A Duty to the Dead

For more suicides as a cover for murder, go to Catering to Nobody

For more mystery reviews, go to Murder and the First Lady

 

Crazy Cantina Chili

So today is:

As I am part Mexican, this is a holiday I celebrate every year. I haven’t posted anything for this day yet as haven’t made anything that would be perfect for any Cinco de Mayo celebration. But today I have something:

Chili

Thoughts Before Cooking:

So a friend of mine entered me in a chili competition and I was at a loss of what to do. I’ve never really cooked chili, but then I decided to do a recipe from The Star Wars Cookbook:Wookie Cookies and Other Galactic Recipes by Robin Davis.

Ingredients:

  • 1 16-0z Can of Kidney Beans
  • 1 16-oz Can of Black Beans
  • 1 16-oz Can of Garbanzo Beans
  • 1/2  a Large Onion
  • 2 Tablespoons of Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons of Chili Powder
  • 1/8 Teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 28-oz Can of Crushed Tomatoes with Juice (I used the Diced Tomatoes with Chiles as I like my food HOT!)
  • 1 Cup of Tomato Juice
  • 1 lb of Ground Beef or Turkey (Optional)
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Sour Cream or Plain Yogurt

Directions for Vegetarian Chili:

  1. Open the cans of beans. Drain off the liquid from the cans in the sink. Rinse and set aside.
  2. Chop the onion and set aside.
  3. Put the oil in a large saucepan and set the pan on medium heat.
  4. When the oil is hot, add the chopped onions and stir with a wooden spoon until tender, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the chili powder and cayenne pepper and stir for 30 seconds.
  6. Add the beans, tomatoes, tomato juice; and stir well.
  7. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  9. Serve Chili with cheese and/or sour cream

Directions for Meat Chili:

  1. Cook meat in a pan on the stove.
  2. Follow the directions above, adding the meat during step 7.

Thoughts After Cooking:

I thought the original recipe was good, but wasn’t as hot as I liked it so I added the chiles. I also included meat as I thought it would be more appealing.

I didn’t win the contest, but I had fun trying.

For more recipes to help with your Cinco de Mayo, go to Best Guacamole Ever! (Plus Make Your Own Tortilla Chips!)

For more from The Star Wars Cookbook, go to Twin Sun Toast

For more holiday posts, go to Yoda Soda

For more soups, go to White Bean and Barley Soup with Tomatoes and Greens

For more vegetarian recipes, go to Two-Cheese Roasted-Veggie Pasta

Yoda Soda

So you know what today is!

That means that it is time to post a recipe from my The Star Wars Cookbook: Wookie Cookies and Other Galactic Recipes by Robin Davis.

Thoughts Before Cooking:

My nephew had been looking through my cookbook and wanted to try out this Yoda Soda as he thought it sounded really good. Sadly we did not have the ingredients needed, so I promised the next time he spent the night we would make them.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Limes
  • 3 Tablespoons of Sugar, or more to taste
  • 1 Cup of Sparkling Water
  • 1 Scoop of Lime Sherbet or Sorbet (you can substitute rainbow sherbet or lemon sorbet.)

Directions:

  1. Place one lime on the cutting board and slice in half.
  2. Squeeze the juice from each half into a measuring cup.
  3. Repeat with the limes until you have 1/4 cup of juice.
  4. Put the lime juice and three tablespoons of sugar in a small pitcher.
  5. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar dissolves. Add the sparkling water and stir until mixed.
  6. Taste and add more sugar if desired.
  7. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop the sherbet and drop it into a tall glass.
  8. Pour in the lime water.
  9. Serve immediately.

Thoughts After Cooking:

This turned out good but only makes one drink.

WHAT!

Yes all that work for ONE DRINK!!!

It is also impossible to find lime sherbet or sorbet ANYWHERE. I had to substitute with rainbow. It wasn’t bad, but I would have liked to try the recipe as it was originally created.

But it was pretty good. I suggest trying it out and seeing if you think it is worth the effort and time to make.

For more on May the 4th, go to Wookie Cookies

For more The Star Wars Cookbook recipes, go to Twin Sun Toast

For more drink recipes, go to Strawberry Milkshake

 

Murder and the First Lady

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Murder and the First Lady (Eleanor Roosevelt Investigates #1) by Elliot Roosevelt

When one of Mrs. Roosevelt’s employees is suspected of murdering her boyfriend, Mrs. Roosevelt decides to investigate in order to clear her aide’s name.

The murdered boyfriend is the son of a congressman and he does not care for the First Lady’s involvement, especially as she starts to unearth some unsavory things about his son.

Mrs. Roosevelt will not give up, going from gambling dens to brothels in order to find the truth.

Thoughts After Reading:

I hated it.

It was so dumb. How could the President’s wife go undercover as a prostitute and no one notice?

Yeah, thought this was dumb and boring. Definitely a skip.

For more mysteries based on real people, go to The Alchemy of Murder

For more historical fiction, go to A Duty to the Dead

For more on going undercover as a prostitute, go to A Most Peculiar Circumstance

For more mystery reviews, go to The Sign of the Four