Monday, January 9, 2017 | By: Taffy

My top fifteen favorite reads from 2016

I read so many amazing books in 2016! I wanted to put them all on this list. I tried to narrow it down to ten but I gave in to fifteen.
I can't wait to find my 2017 favorites!

What were your favorite reads last year?

(There is no particular order to these books.)


EVER THE HUNTED (Clash of Kingdoms #1) by Erin Summerill
Loved this book. Love the author.

SIX OF CROWS and CROOKED KINGDOM  (Six of Crows #1 & #2) by Leigh Bardugo
Her characters are so well developed that I mourned with them, wanted to slap them silly and loved them.

TRUTH OF EMBERS (Dragonsword #3) by Catilyn McFarland
Do you like dragons? Read this series! Do you like romance AND dragons? Read this series!


THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STARS by Katherine King
I love Ms. King's writing style!


AS YOU ARE (The Jonquil Brothers #3) by Sarah M. Eden
Anything by Sarah Eden is worth your time. Especially ones about the Jonquil brothers.


DAUGHTER OF THE PIRATE KING by Tricia Levenseller
Pirates! Romance! Yes, please!


GILDED CAGE (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic Smith
Aristocrats, magic and the dark side of both.


THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN ME IS YOU by Lily Anderson
Taming of the Shrew meets modern day high school. Totally cute!


THE WRATH & THE DAWN (The Wrath and the Dawn #1) by Renee Ahdieh
Beautiful story inspired by A Thousand and One nights.


THE READER (Sea of Ink and Gold #1) by Traci Chee
A book that tells the future as you read it?


HAG-SEED: THE TEMPEST RETOLD by Margaret Atwood
A retelling of tempest in a prison. It's awesome.

 SLAVE QUEEN (An Omar Zagouri Thriller #3) By H.B. Moore
I love this series. The author goes back and forth between our time and the time of Ottoman empire. And there's lots of romance.



WILLOWKEEP by Julie Daines
Ghostly letters and love among the willows.



BEAUTY AND THE CLOCKWORK BEAST by Nancy Allen Campbell
The title sums up the story nicely.





Sunday, January 1, 2017 | By: Taffy

THE KINGMAKER by Gemma Perfect SPOTLIGHT!





Books:
The Kingmaker
“I am sixteen years old and I will die on the morning of my seventeenth birthday. As tradition dictates, I will be sacrificed and my life’s blood will determine which one of my two brothers will be King. My blood will kill one and crown one. My name is Everleigh and I am the Kingmaker.”

The legend of the Kingmaker goes back millions of years. Their magic chooses the rightful King of the Realm and they all die on their seventeenth birthday.

Except this one.

Everleigh is special.

She is the Kingmaker who will live, the Kingmaker who will rule, the Kingmaker who will be Queen.

But not everyone agrees with an age old prophecy that says that a girl will rule the Realm and soon Everleigh is locked in a deadly battle for the throne.
Genre: Young adult historical fantasy
Release: January 1s t 2017



Seize the Crown
The legend of the Kingmaker goes back millions of years. Their magic chooses the rightful King of the Realm and they all die on their seventeenth birthday.

Except Everleigh. A prophecy said she would live and rule, but her brother’s deadly ambition saw him take the crown that should rightfully be on her head.

Everleigh is determined to avenge her loved ones and seize the crown at the same time.

If a fight is what it takes to rule, she will fight or die trying, in this fantastic follow up to The Kingmaker.

Genre: Young adult historical fantasy
Release: January 1s t 2017





Born to Rule

The legend of the Kingmaker goes back millions of years. Their magic chooses the rightful King of the Realm and they all die on their seventeenth birthday.
Except Everleigh. A prophecy said she would live and rule, and she finally holds all of the power in the Realm. With her brother missing in action, the crown is almost on her head and she is ready to rule.
But with Millard on the run and attacks being made ‘in the name of the King’, Everleigh must put a stop to her brother before her Kingdom is in ruins and if, as Queen, she must kill her own blood, she will gladly do it, in this incredible conclusion to The Kingmaker Trilogy.
Genre: Young adult historical fantasy
Release: January 1s t 2017






Gemma Perfect loves to write. She’s been doing it since she was nine. After a few false starts – self publishing children’s books, and being traditionally published with her romance novella, she has finally found her feet writing young adult historical fantasy books. She is currently writing The Cursed Princess, set five years after The Kingmaker Trilogy finishes, following the adventures of Everleigh's sister, Addyson.

Gemma lives in Wales with her husband Craig and their three boys, Sam, Corey and Oliver. She is happiest when writing, day dreaming and eating smelly blue cheese.



Author links:

Website:
Facebook:
Twitter:





Teasers and pictures for promos:





Friday, December 23, 2016 | By: Taffy

Holiday recipe ~ Prime Rib

We LOVE prime rib for our Christmas Eve dinner, now that we know how simple it is to make and way cheaper than a restaurant. Tammy Merryweather introduced me to the easy version.

The link to the actual recipe is HERE.



Delicious, right??


would assume you could order a USDA Choice piece of meat from the super­mar­ket if you talked to the meat counter man­ager, and I have always been able to find USDA Choice meats at Costco. It runs about $9–11 per pound, where a select cut from the super­mar­ket will be about $6–8. It’s worth the extra price for USDA Choice if you’re going to go to the trou­ble to cook a Prime Rib, which really isn’t all that much trouble.…you just don’t want to adver­tise Prime Rib on your menu and then serve your guests semi-yukky beef!
This is a sec­tion of USDA Choice prime rib. See the beau­ti­ful mar­bling? That equals YUM! Most prime rib roasts run about 13–15 pounds. This one was 15 pounds and wouldn’t fit into my roaster, so I cut it to fit. A 15 pound prime rib will feed about 25 peo­ple with a 1/2 inch cut each. Big­ger “prime-size” cuts will serve about 12.
 I sea­son my prime rib with a rub made from chopped, fresh rose­mary, thyme, gar­lic, and olive oil. There’s also kosher salt and ground black pep­per. It’s about 1/4 cup chopped up rose­mary and thyme com­bined, 10 cloves of gar­lic, 2–3 table­spoons kosher salt, 1 table­spoon black pep­per, and enough olive oil to make a paste when com­bined. Pulse the herbs, gar­lic, and salt and pep­per in a food proces­sor, and then add the oil.
 Instead of using my roast­ing rack, I lay down a bed of aro­mat­ics: car­rots, cel­ery, onions, and the stems left from the rose­mary and thyme. This lifts the roast up off the bot­tom of the roaster, and adds great fla­vor to the drip­pings. You don’t need to peel the carrots.
 Cover the prime rib with the rub, start­ing on the under­side, then plac­ing it on the bed of aro­mat­ics, and then con­tin­u­ing cov­er­ing the remain­ing surface.
If you are strapped for time, you can cook the prime rib for 25 min­utes at 400 degrees F., and then turn­ing down to 225–250 degrees F. for the remain­ing time. If you have the time though, just roast it at 225 degrees F. the entire time. The lower and slower you roast, the juicer and more ten­der the prime rib will end up. It’s worth the extra time.
Tent the prime rib with foil for the first hour and 30 min­utes, uncov­er­ing for the remain­der of the time.
Start check­ing the tem­per­a­ture after 2–2 1/2 hours. You’re look­ing for about 130 degrees in the cen­ter of the roast. You will need a reli­able meat ther­mome­ter to check the temp. I cal­i­brate mine reg­u­larly to make sure it’s behav­ing. The prime rib will rise a few degrees after you remove it from the oven, and 130–135 is a medium-rare tem­per­a­ture. This is the tem­per­a­ture that suits the cut of meat the best. Still very juicy, and red­dish in the cen­ter. An over-cooked prime rib defeats the pur­pose of the extra spe­cial cut of meat.
The ends of the roast will be cooked a lit­tle fur­ther along than the cen­ter, for those guests who insist on a more well-cooked slice.
Let the prime rib rest for 15–20 min­utes to allow the juices to dis­trib­ute through the roast.
Slice and serve with horse­rad­ish sauce and aus jus.

 Here is my prime rib rest­ing. See the beau­ti­ful crust that forms from the rub? Drool-worthy!! This roast will serve about 12–16 peo­ple depend­ing on how thick it’s cut. I like a nice 1″ slice myself!
 Prime Rib is fab­u­lous with a sour cream/horseradish sauce. I usu­ally use 1 part horse­rad­ish to 3 parts sour cream. Some of you might like it stronger, some creamier. Use your own judgement.
The aus jus is made using the drip­pings from the prime rib mixed with a lit­tle water and thick­ened slightly  (not like a gravy, just a lit­tler thicker than broth) with a cornstarch/cold water slurry. You will need to adjust the taste of your aus jus depend­ing on how strong your drip­pings end up being. You might add more water than me, you might need to add a lit­tle beef base to bump up the fla­vor, just be care­ful to watch the salt content.
**As a response to some com­ments from below, I want to add that you may pre­pare your prime rib with the bed of aro­mat­ics and the rub ahead of time to save time. Just be sure to pull the prime rib out of the refrig­er­a­tor at least a half-hour before plac­ing it into the oven to roast. Let­ting it sit at room tem­per­a­ture that long or even a lit­tle bit longer (as much as 1–2 hours) won’t be a food safety hazard. **

 

Monday, December 12, 2016 | By: Taffy

Holiday Recipe ~ Cranberry Salsa

This is one of my favorite holiday appetizer recipes!  Sweet and sassy with a kick of holiday tastiness.

What's your favorite holiday appetizer?
 
 
Cranberry Salsa with Cream Cheese
 
Serves: 12 servings
Ingredients
  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar (add more to taste)
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped coarsely (leave the seeds in if you like it spicy)
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • 4 green onions
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 (8 ounce) blocks of cream cheese

Monday, December 5, 2016 | By: Taffy

A few of my favorite Christmas things...book edition.

Do you have a book you like to read every season? Do you read one aloud to your family? Do you have one you like to read at night, by yourself?

I love A Christmas Carol. Really, I love any Charles Dickens book. One of the first books I feel for was A Tale of Two Cities. Even though his writing is slow in our day, I appreciate his descriptions and characters. I may not read the book every Christmas, I do watch one or two or three different movie versions of the book (the Jim Carey on freaks me out a little bit).

Charles began to write the story in September of 1843 and finished it in SIX weeks. The book was published in December of the same year. He and his publisher disagreed on the price and the color of the book. The book was finally book was bound in red cloth with gilt-edged pages, just a two days before publication.






















 Here are a few of my favorite book covers of The Christmas Carol:




I like the robust Spirit of Christmas Past.




I like the scene of the town with Scrooge in the middle with his light.
















I kinda love this one. It's different and creepy.




Isn't this one kinda pretty in it's starkness? Black and grey and ivory.
















Okay. I had to add this one because it looks more like a book cover for a horror novel, not a Christmas book. I guess this really is a ghost story...
















Scrooge, walking the streets all alone in the cold. I think the cover very telling. 




This cover reminds me of the books I read in elementary school. I loved to read but biographies mostly caught my attention.














I like this one. Looking through the window at the family eating dinner gives this story a different viewpoint.



I love this one! An illustrated Christmas Carol!





















An annotated book of a Christmas Carol? Yes, please!




















Oops!
hahaha!
How did that get there?
Thursday, December 1, 2016 | By: Taffy

Ever the Hunted (Clash of Kingdoms #1) by Erin Summerill

Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.



I. Cant. Even.
I love this book.

Opening line:
"To survive these woods, a man has to be as strong as the trees, Papa had said."

More review later. After my heart has settled down.

Here goes:

This was a fun-can't-put-the-book-down read. So many great characters, fantastic worlds and thoughtful prose.

Britta is the main character. She's a hunter and tracker, trained by her father along with his apprentice, Cohen and disliked by the town folk. Her father is killed. Cohen runs away (after she tells him she's in love with him). Britta is left alone and basically kicked out of her home. She's determined to find her father's murderer, who just might be Cohen, and she's not afraid to go on her own because she's tough and stubborn. And the secrets she finds out along the way! Gah!
There are so many characters that add to this story!
The world that Britta lives in is alive and bright thanks to the writing of Ms. Summerill.  The colors, the smells, the magic made me  want a forest like the one in the book in my backyard.

A great debut novel by a talented writer!

Thanks for the early read, net galley!





Erin Summerill was born in England. After spending years bouncing between Air Force bases in Hawaii, England, and California, her family settled in Utah, where Erin graduated with a B.A. in English from Brigham Young University. She had aspirations to write the next great American novel, but writing proved tougher than she first thought. So she grabbed a Nikon and became a professional photographer while crafting manuscript after manuscript. The scenic detour of shooting weddings across the United States, as well as internationally, provided world-building inspiration. It gave her the vision to draft her debut YA fantasy, EVER THE HUNTED. Now when she isn’t writing, or shooting a wedding, she’s chasing her four kids, two dogs, one cat, and five chickens. This could be why she downs massive amounts of Coke Zero and Hot tamales.

You can follower her on twitter: @erinsummerill
Friday, November 25, 2016 | By: Taffy

A Country Christmas (A Timeless Regency Collection) by Josi Kilpack, Carla Kelly, and Jennifer Moore

From the publisher of the USA TODAY bestselling & #1 Amazon bestselling Timeless Romance Anthology series in Clean Romance, comes A COUNTRY CHRISTMAS.

Three brand new Regency Romance novellas by Josi S. Kilpack, Carla Kelly, and Jennifer Moore.



Ready for Christmas stories? How about three romantic ones? Get started on your Christmas reading with these regency stories.

Saints and Sinners by Josi Kilpack
Opening line:
"Neville Franklin was inspecting the small village pub that smelled like yeast and grease— as it should— when his companion spoke from the other side of the small, rough-hewn table."

The Christmas Angle by Carla Kelly
Opening line:
"Sailing Master Able Six never minded a little walk."

The Perfect Christmas by Jennifer Moore
Opening line:
"“I propose a Christmas at Waverly House.” Archibald Montague Clawson, Lord Symons, stood on the plush rug of the drawing room, letting his gaze travel over his companions as he awaited their reactions.""