Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Covered up with Marvelle Petit

Back to school favorite:  pens or notebooks?

This is a hard decision, but I think pens win out. I adore fountain pens and writing with them. There’s something romantic about having a bottle of ink beside you, a good pen in hand, and a nice cup of tea before writing. As far as normal pens go, I am really particular. There’s only one brand I like to use and I always make sure to have a stock of at least five on hand at all times. I’m a bit stationery obsessed, I admit.

Hiking or jumping in a pile of leaves?

Jumping in a pile of leaves~ Even as an adult it’s hard to resist a huge pile of leaves in front of you!

Halloween or Thanksgiving?

Halloween. As much as I love to eat (trust, I love to eat) I love seeing everyone’s different costumes and decorating as creepy (and as cute, that dichotomy is the best) as possible.

Hot buttered rum or hot chocolate?

Hot chocolate! I like to do a variation based on something my Grandma Nacha used to make me as a child. You heat up half/half or milk with a semi-sweet chocolate. The fat-free varieties will end up with a thinner chocolate, and traditionally her recipe is rich. I use about 2-3 ounces (I eyeball it to be honest) per cup of liquid. Once it’s hot and the chocolate has melted, I add a pinch of chile powder and star anise plus a good pinch of cinnamon and about a teaspoon (or just do a quick splash) of vanilla extract. Sometimes I’ve seen the chocolate being served with cinnamon sticks as stirrers, so that is an option too! I’ll top it with a good wallop of whipped cream with cocoa powder or nutmeg sprinkled on top. Even if you opt out of the chile powder, the cinnamon gives a nice warmth and a unique twist to your usual hot chocolate. I’ve added the spices to a normal mix of hot chocolate for a little spice as well.

Another hot chocolate drink, the champurrado, is equally as delicious. I have fond memories of using the fat wooden whisk (looks similar to a honey dipper) to froth up the drink. The drinks are really similar. They both use chocolate and milk. The melody of spices is optional. The additions are unrefined pure cane sugar called Tampico and a corn flour mix, called masa de maiz. It is thick, much like a gravy.

While my Spanish side is rather spicy, my French side is classic and refined. The French version, called chocolat chaud, is essentially a melted ganache and is Heaven for the truest chocolate lovers. You heat up milk, half/half, or even full bodied cream with a lot of chocolate. The ratio is nearly 4:1 chocolate to liquid! The chocolate, of course, is also your finest chocolate available. Ah, but there is also something very special about the chocolat chaud. Let me tell you about crème Chantilly. Yeah, it’s just a fancy name for whipped cream (lol). But Meme, bless her, added a splash of amaretto to the cream before whipping it up. Thus I keep the fancy name for her fanciful addition~ So, in place of the vanilla extract on your whipped cream recipe, add some amaretto instead. That’s the Petit family secret!

Who's book (besides one of yours) are you most looking forward to reading?

Well, I’ve been A Song of Ice and Fire fan for years. I started the series on the second book’s release.... when  I was a much younger person haha. But I feel like that’s a copout to the question… I always look forward to the next Toni Morrison release or the next Murakami release. I’m always guaranteed a good read from them. On the cute and steamy romance spectrum, I adore reading paranormal tinged cuteness the most. :D

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

BLOOD MAGICK by Nora Roberts

Book three of the Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy
October 28th, 2014
Paranormal Contemporary Romance
Reviewed by Dawn (
Obtained by Publisher
4 Hearts

Two battles against the wizard Cabhan and the three Dark witches of Mayo county are stronger but also more vulnerable. For the final battle brews as Branna O’Dwyer struggles with her feelings for Finbar Burke and her desire to finally end the evil that has plagued the O’Dwyer family for centuries.

Fin has loved Branna forever it seems but when she found out he was descended from Cabhan, she left him and the love they had for one another. Now years later, Fin is drawn back into town, determined to help Branna, Connor and Iona in their fight against this madman. But it will take more than magic and power to defeat the warlock because when you get right down to it, the strength is in Fin’s power, loyalty to his friends and love for Branna that may just be the edge they need to finally end this evil that has long plagued them.

I got to admit I have been itching to read the final book ever since Shadow Spell was out as I couldn’t wait to see how the final story would play out. Branna and Fin have history together and the sparks that flew between them told me they never died out no matter how these two tried to cope with their broken hearts. Ms. Roberts does a fantastic job capturing the characters personalities perfectly. Each major character delivers something to the story, to keeping it moving along at a nice even pace and delivering story plot twists that leave you gasping in shock. Ms. Roberts takes the readers on a wild journey as she catapults to the final battle filled with revelations, romance, magic and more that will leave the reader spellbound. The location alone left me wishing to go exploring in county Mayo in Ireland and to immerse myself in the rich history there. You get a sense that you are right there along side Branna, Connor and Iona as well as their friends and lovers. The story is full of intriguing twists that left me speechless at times and flipping the pages eager to see where it would leave these wonderful characters.

Branna and Fin have a history together, one filled with memories of the past love they shared and the heart broken after Branna found that Fin is Cabhan’s descendant. Each battle, each failure to destroy fully this evil has taught them something and as the final battle looms, Branna and Fin fight their feelings for one another even as they work together to figure out the spell to defeat Cabhan once and for all. These two characters grew on me as I raced through books one (The Dark Witch) and book two (Shadow Spell). They had a history together, magic and a love that just grew over time rather than die off. These two were meant for one another but I had times where I wanted to shake some sense into these two at times. Both characters were delightful and more but their stubbornness to resolve their past played havoc with both of them. What I love the most over Ms. Roberts’ witchcraft books is how respectful she is of the craft as well as not being preachy. That went a long way for me to enjoy the story without feeling like I was being lectured to.

BLOOD MAGICK is an exciting conclusion to the Cousin O’Dwyer series and one that delivers a satisfying ending to the trilogy. This is an author who is a masterful storyteller, one who knows how to hook her readers in and never let them go until the very end. I thoroughly enjoyed BLOOD MAGICK and I look forward to seeing where this author will go in the future. If you enjoy a fast paced character driven storyline then grab the Cousin O’Dwyer trilogy though I caution you that you will do better to read it in order as each story capitalizes on the last one.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement

Sunday, December 14, 2014

SPORKED IN TIME by Jaid Black and Nicholas Grant


Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Date published: November 2014
ISBN: 9781419993787
Comedy, Time Travel
Reviewed by Helen
Obtained via publisher
Rating: 2

Busty Russell is straight and was reared by two gay dads. Her best friend Tope McWhite is six foot five inches of rampantly gay man. Together they run an incredibly inept detective agency in WeHo. Their latest case involves unlimited money and time travel to the fourteenth century Scottish Highlands.

In the interests of full disclosure I once worked for Ellora’s Cave. I enjoyed reading Ms Black’s erotic romances. I also read and enjoy comedy, historical fiction and gay fiction (Basically I just like reading).

However this book didn’t tick any good boxes for me. I can laugh at slapstick comedy and over the top comedy (I loved the Keystone Kops when I was a kid) but this story felt forced. It was almost as if Ms. Black and Mr. Grant sat down with a list of popular Amazon key search words and determined to include them all in every chapter, hopefully more than once.

The idea of the Dicktionary is good, but there are so many in-jokes about gay men and West Hollywood it detracts from the story and confuses any reader who isn’t from that scene. And flipping back and forth to the Dicktionary pulls the reader out of the story. There were also a bunch of typos, or if they weren’t typos, I couldn’t understand their meaning.

While the plot is thin and confused, the two main characters are completely outrageous, and at times quite funny as is some of the dialogue. However, I won’t be reading any future books in this series.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

Covered Up with Tiana Xander

Back to school favorite:  pens or notebooks?

Notebooks, definitely. I buy my own pens and use them almost exclusively. Not because I’m conceited, or anything like that. I just like the way they write. Everyone seems to like the way they write. People are constantly stealing my pens. 

The reason notebooks are my back to school favorite is because I carry one with me almost everywhere I go. I also carry my netbook, but sometimes, writing in a notebook is better. I like the tactile sensation of actually writing and the notebooks help me dream. I don’t have to keep looking to see if I’ve written what I meant, the way I do when working with a keyboard. Sometimes, with the netbook or my PC I have to watch what I type and that takes away from the “movie” of the book in my mind. Typos bother me, too. So obviously the notebook is better.

What’s funny is knowing that my kids are always coming to me during the year and asking me if they can have a notebook because they used theirs up. They know I always have a case or two lying around. LOL

Hiking or jumping in a pile of leaves?

That’s a difficult question. I love to do both. The man is always complaining that I never grew up. He’s one to talk!

 Though given the choice between hiking and mountain biking, I’d take biking every time. I can still do the same thing with my mountain bike, but cover more ground.

Halloween or Thanksgiving?

Another tough question. I like Halloween because people can dress up and be as outrageous as they want to be. When we lived in Virginia, I loved the old man on the corner who always went all out. The man had a real casket in his yard with one of his friends posing as Dracula. He even turned his flowerbeds into mounded graves, complete with headstones.

Halloween is for fun, and some say that All Hallows Eve is for celebrating the lives of the dead. You can do either, depending on your beliefs. I have always reserved any reflections on those who have passed for November 1st. It’s a good thing because we can be as goofy or serious as we like on Halloween.

I also like Thanksgiving because it reminds us to be thankful for what we have while we still have it. It’s also a time for the family to get together and that’s always a good thing for my family.

Hot buttered rum or hot chocolate?

Definitely hot chocolate. I might change my mind if I ever taste a hot buttered rum, but as it stands now, I don’t see myself liking any hot drink more than hot chocolate unless maybe it’s a hot coffee. I do love my coffee.

Who's book (besides one of yours) are you most looking forward to reading?

Anything by Lyndsay Sands. I love her books. They always make me laugh and even though she has some evil villains, her good guys always win in the end and they’re not afraid to make mistakes or be funny while they do it!

I also love Sandra Hill’s Viking time travel books. They always make me laugh. What’s not to laugh at when a big, bad, Viking hero from times long past comes forward in time to the present and mispronounces names like Meredith as Merry Death and calling all doctors dock whores?

Sometimes I read their books and wish that I could write the way they do. I can only hope to engage my readers half as much as my favorite authors engage me while I’m reading. That’s what I strive to do every time I pick up one of my pens and start to dream.

Saturday, December 13, 2014


Publisher: Meankitty Publishing
Date published: 2014
Reviewed by Helen
Obtained via self bought. 
Rating: 4

“Kit’s Cat” by Cindy Spencer Pape. Kit’s allergic to cats and hates the one keeps crying outside her window at night. Until she realizes he’s injured.
“The Tenth Life of Vicky Torres” by Shona Husk. When the world is coming to an end, Seth obeys his father and hides out in the cabin. But it’s very lonely there until he sees the cat.

“The Night Shift” by Angela Campbell. Hailey is far too busy to be distracted by anyone or anything. Until the incident with the old lady.

I wanted to read something a little different from the usual ghosts, vampires and other spooky beings this Halloween, which is why I chose this book. I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a cool collection of paranormal cat stories. None of these stories is a romance as such, yet they all include romantic and sensual elements to them. Each story is quite different and unique, yet the black cats unite them very well. Having the book produced by Meankitty Publishing was a stroke of genius as well.

In “Kit’s Cat” there’s a POV change between one paragraph and the next with no line break or scene break which was a fraction disconcerting. However, I like the world Ms. Pape’s created very much and hope to read more stories in it

There were a handful of typos in “The Tenth Life of Vicky Torres”. This is a great story too, with excellent characterization of the main protagonists and their need to face and overcome obstacles and the ways they deal with it.

“The Night Shift” was a bit annoying in that at the start the heroine is fully focused on her career but then she takes time off totally ignoring her job without a flicker of concern. That rough edge needs to be smoothed over, but again, it’s an appealing story.

The characters in all the books are great, as is the use of the cats. All the endings are different and very appropriate for each story.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.