Saturday, December 31, 2011

Toni's Review of Sweet Stuff by Donna Kauffman ***5 Stars***


Scheduled for release January 31, 2012

Double Fudge. . .Toasted Coconut. . .Key Lime. . .Strawberry Cream. . . 

Every bite is a mouthful of heaven. 

And the women of the Cupcake Club are bringing their appetites . . . 

Riley Brown never imagined she would find her bliss on Georgia's quiet Sugarberry Island after years of Chicago's city life. With a new career and fantastic new friends, she's got it all--except for eligible men. But a gig staging a renovated beach house delivers a delicious treat--six feet of blue-eyed, gorgeous writer as delectable and Southern as pecan pie. Quinn Brannigan has come to Sugarberry to finish his latest novel in peace, and suddenly Riley has a taste for the bad boy author that no amount of mocha latte buttercream or lemon mousse will satisfy . . .

Riley's friends are rooting for her to give in to her cravings and spice up her life, but it's Quinn who needs to learn that life's menu just might include love, in all its decadent, irresistible flavors . .

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One cupcake disaster later and the lives of two people are about to take a turn for the sweetly unexpected.

Riley Brown’s life in Chicago has been destroyed and she has to get away from the town and the people in it.  So she runs or rather floats away to the tiny island town of Sugarberry, a quiet little haven off the coast of Georgia.  She needed the time to reflect and get her life back in order.  What she found is a second chance at happiness, filled with true friends and a promising new career.  Too bad she just had one of her most humiliating moments in her life and it was witnessed by the handsome and successful author, Quinn Brannigan.

Quinn has returned to his second home.  It’s been years, but he can feel the calm and serenity of Sugarberry.  He is a man at a turning point in his career and he needs peace and quiet to make a very important decision.  With his new novel to complete he doesn’t have time for the luscious Riley.  The problem is she stirs something within him that he has only written about in his novels.

Toni's Review of Sugar Rush by Donna Kauffman ***4.5 Stars***



When baker extraordinaire Leilani Trusdale leaves New York City for Georgia's sleepy Sugarberry Island, her past follows in the form of her former boss, Baxter Dunne. Baxter, otherwise known as Chef Hot Cakes, wants to film his hit cooking show in her tiny cupcakery. 

Last time they worked together, Baxter's molten chocolate brown eyes and sexy British accent made Lani's mouth water and her cheeks blush the colour of raspberry filling...

Lani's friends are convinced that this time around, Baxter is the missing ingredient in her recipe for happiness. But convincing Lani will be a job for Baxter himself. And he'll need more than black velvet frosting to sweeten the deal...

********************

I will try not to add too many food comments and antidotes to my review, but be warned it might happen, because this is one SWEET story.  Darn, it already happened!

Leilani “Lani” Trusdale had it all in New York.  She had a wonderful career as Executive Chef at Gateau and amazing friends.  She gave it all up the moment her father had a health scare.  Now she can’t be happier.  She is living the American dream of bring her own boss.  Her life has calmed down and relaxed, but that is all going to change.  Lani’s ex boss is coming to town and things are going to get a bit hot in the kitchen.

Baxter Dunne is a mega star.  He has the golden touch and always gets what he wants and he wants Lani.  He knew all along that she special, but didn’t realize how much until she left him and his restaurant ten months ago.  Now he is on a mission.  He wants her back in his life, any way he can have her.

Toni's Review of Where the Rain is Made by Keta Diablo ***4 Stars***



A decadent-looking savage has captured Francesca DuVall and her brother, Marsh. Now she must spend every waking moment planning an escape. She didn’t count on the powerful draw of desire interfering with her scheme in the camp of the brutal Cheyenne dog soldiers.

Ethan Gray is a curator at a national museum...most of the time, but when he travels through time to help his beloved People he becomes Meko, leader of the most revered and feared tribe of the plains. Although their worlds are decades apart Meko can’t resist the dark beauty he kidnapped during a raid. He has many battles to fight but none he wants to win more than the one that will capture Cesca’s heart forever.

From the windswept plains of Colorado and the harsh life of a Dog Soldier to the placid life of a curator their love was fueled by passion and kindled by destiny.


********************

Welcome to the world of time travel. Hold on tight because we are going to soar into the clouds and delve into the amazing world of the People, the Cheyenne’s.

Francesca Duvall had a quiet life taking care of her father and her younger brother, Marshall.  All that changed in an instant the dog soldiers descended onto her home and killed her father.  Now she and her brother are prisoners of savages and her only goal is to save them both or at least her brother no matter what she must do.

Ethan Gray is a man with a mission to save his People.  He is devoted to their existence and to protect their way of life.  He is a Wanderer, a man destined to travel through time to protect the Cheyenne.  He is a modern man living in the past, sacrificing his own happiness for the good of the People.  His current mission is to save his tribe from being massacred.  He never anticipated finding his heart and soul in the eyes of a frightened woman.

Their love is forged on blood, pain and honor.  Two people who are from different times and different worlds.  Together they must protect their hearts, each other and the People.  These were violent and turbulent times and this is their story.

Toni's Review of Blood of Eden by Tami Dane ***3 Stars***




Sloan has a sky-high IQ, a chaotic personal life, and a dream: to work for the FBI. Her goal is within reach until an error lands her with the FBI's ugly stepchild: the new Paranormal Behavioral Analysis Unit. She'll get to profile criminals, but the pool of suspects is a little more...diverse. Yet even as Sloan tackles her first case--a string of victims, all with puncture wounds to the neck--she can't silence her inner para-skeptic.

To catch the killer she'll have to think like one. That means casting aside her doubts, and dealing with the bizarre nightmares that started with the job. But the strangeness is only beginning, as Sloan pieces together the shocking truth about a case that's more personal than she ever would have guessed.


********************

Today is the beginning of Sloan Skye’s dreams coming true.  She is starting her first day as an intern for the FBI.  Well that is what she thought when she left the chaos of her apartment this morning.  Now she is shattered, there has been a mistake and her position has just been stolen by her old high school crush turned frenemy, Gabe Wagner.

Total desperation and the desire to not have a repeat performance of last summer’s job, she jumps at the change to work for the FBI in any way shape or form.  Well she probably should have done a bit of research first.  She just got hired as an intern for the PBAU, Paranormal Behavioral Analysis Unit.  Yes, paranormals like vampires and other creatures of the unknown.  Who knew they existed…Sloan sure doesn’t believe it…yet.

Sloan tries to delve into her job with an open mind, but being the daughter of two brilliant people, this is a tough one to swallow.  Believing isn’t her only problem.  She is now having realistic dreams and frightening memories that are unsettling to her and may be related to the unusual case they are working.  Sloan has just entered a whole new world.  A world she never knew existed, but a world that already knew about her.

Blood of Eden is a good story, but I wasn’t totally absorbed by the storyline.  The set up of the series was well thought out and detailed.  Ms. Dane has developed a fantastic universe and I am still intrigued by the plot, though I felt bogged down at times.  She definitely has a new take on the paranormal, even delving into not well known creatures of lore and history.  I found it very fascinating and I am looking forward to the next installment.  I like to think that now that the ground work has been laid the next book will blow me away with the creatures, characters and storytelling.

Blood of Eden is a detailed oriented foundation to a potentially refreshing paranormal series.  Mystery and intrigue, new exciting paranormal creatures, and the possibility of a love triangle thrown in; what more can a reader ask for?


Thanks for reading! - Toni

My Favourite Reads of 2011

Here is a list of books that I've adored!


This is my 1st pick!  Check out my review here:  http://www.amazon.com/End-Book-Part-One/dp/1449709753/ref=cm_cr-mr-title




  Another great book!  Here is my review: http://www.amazon.com/Shoppe-Spells-Gatekeeper-ebook/dp/B006CWIHGE/ref=cm_cr-mr-title


A wonderful series so far, I'm loving it to!  Here's my review:  http://www.amazon.com/review/R2D3K2GPQZCUK0/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm


 Here's another must read series.  My review can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/review/R21DS2KYSDW43J/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm


 This book is a great long read and the beginning of a series.  Here's my review:  http://www.amazon.com/review/R2DF8SYFEIV1TA/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm

  Great Read, love the characters!  Here's my review:  http://www.amazon.com/review/R3J1DPYG6H9JDS/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm

Here are some more:









Friday, December 30, 2011

Get your Roots Done quick with ROOTS ONLY!


5 Star Product!!!

In my opinion this product ROCKS!  It's an easy to use bottle with an attachment the allows you to do apply dye to your roots in minutes!

Put your dye in the bottle and apply!  It's really that simple.  When your done wash it out and use it again next time.
Love it!



Please Check out their site!!!!


Also on FB!





I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

SweetPea Delights: Easy Meal Ideas For Mom's On The Go by Talina Perkins FREE COPY!!!

SweetPea Delights: Easy Meal Ideas For Mom's On The Go



Blurb:
We all love sharing easy and delicious meal ideas with our friends and family members. Sitting down to a warm and hearty meal each night is a blessing my family and I are always thankful for. But at times getting those meals whipped up is a lot harder when our schedules keep us so busy.

 In SweetPea Delights: Easy Meal Ideas For Moms-On-The-Go I have pulled together over 90 delicious family recipes, to help you bring a warm and hearty meal to your table. You’ll find yummy Grab 'n' Go Breakfast Cookies to lighten up your morning. For warm and cozy lunch how about Quick & Spicy Chicken ‘n Rice and for dinner serve your family a fun What-The-Hay taco meal. You’ll even find recipes for easy and delicious snacks everyone will love! Beyond the easy meal ideas, you’ll also find cooking tips and inspirations sprinkled within the pages to add flavor to your cooking experience. So, let’s get started with SweetPea Delights: Easy meal Ideas For Moms-On-The-Go!


About the Author:
A Paranormal & Contemporary romance author & Non-Fiction Cookbook Author, A Top Pick Reviewer for Night Owl Reviews and owner and author of Bookin' It Reviews. A place where you’ll find guest authors, giveaways, & video snippet readings of books I am reading or recommend. You’ll also get to hear my thoughts on the author’s writing style or plot. 

Come by and discover a world just for readers at Bookin’ It Reviews!




Sunday, December 25, 2011

BOOKS READ 'N' MAKEUP DONE: Tropical Traditions Powdered Laundry Detergent 5 S...

BOOKS READ 'N' MAKEUP DONE: Tropical Traditions Powdered Laundry Detergent 5 S...: Tropical Traditions Powdered Laundry Detergent cleans and removes stains from your laundry with the power of Oxygen Bleach Destainer and ...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!!! And a HUGE Thank you!



I just wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

I hope that it brings you many a wonderous thing and

much joy!

I would like to take this oppurtunity to Thank You All so much for supporting BOOKS READ 'N' MAKEUP DONE since it began in May 2011.
I look forward to many more years and growth to come.


HUGS,

Leanne G.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

www.icaughtsanta.com!!! Very Cool Must Do for Kids!!!! GIVEAWAY!!! 5 WINNERS!





I've had the pleasure of being able to review this online product and I have to say I absolutely love it!


Imagine the look of wonder and surprise when a child receives a photo of Santa caught in the act in his or her very own home. iCaughtSanta.com is a unique website that helps visitors create those memorable keepsake photos.


In three simple steps anyone can upload a holiday photo, add Santa Claus and print it as proof… or share it via email, Facebook and Twitter. 


It's all true!  I went on their site and made up the photo with no problems at all and I adore the results and more importantly my 6 year old almost had a heart attack seeing Santa in our house lol   He was so excited!
Not only do you get a picture but there's a video you can bookmark where your child can see Santa walk into your living room, How cool is that!


IcaughtSanta.com is giving away achance for your own photo to 5 different photos!!!  Just enter below!






Monday, December 19, 2011

Ready For Christmas!

Hey all!  

Happy Holidays!!!!

We are pretty much ready here, how about you?
The kids have received some early Christmas presents and I thought I would share their reactions/ pics with you :D

Let me know what you think!






See you all in the New Year!!!!!!!!!!!  May it be a Wonderful one to you all!

Love YA!!!!!!

Leanne






Sunday, December 18, 2011

5 Stars for Debra Web's IMPULSE!



Don’t miss OBSESSION, the stunning debut in the Faces of Evil series, available now!




This time he’s in Birmingham…the killer who devastated Special Agent Jess Harris’ career. And he is far from finished with her…


The Player has mastered the art of torture and murder. No one has ever gotten close until Jess touched him with her powerful insight and relentless determination. He will have his vengeance…but first he will make Jess pay in ways she never imagined.


The first victim is Jess’s friend and he won’t stop there. With each new victim Jess grows closer and closer to the realization that the only way to stop the Player is to give him what he wants—and he wants her.


Chief of Police Dan Burnett is determined to give Jess her life back and to protect her. With an offer of deputy chief of a new division on the table, can Jess risk staying in her hometown and putting those around her in more danger?


But can she walk away in order to protect everyone she loves, including the man who wants her back in his arms?


A single impulse will determine who survives his final game…


The Faces of Evil series is back with another pulse-pounding story from national bestseller Debra Webb.
******************************************

Debra Webb does it again.  Another suspenseful great read!  I could not put this book down, it's a sequel to her book called "Obsession".  The first book was awesome and this book is to.  
Agent Jess Harris is being tested over and over again by a serial killer called the "Player", he's highly intelligent and out to get her.   
Chief of Police Dan Burnett has deep feelings for Jess is is very worried about her, seems to him that everyone is out to get her.  

These characters are well rounded and very easy to get to know.  The suspense in the book will get your heart pumping and the twists will make you keep reading late into the night.

Be sure to pick up this book, you will not be disappointed.

5 Stars!!!


Saturday, December 17, 2011

So I Married a Demon Slayer 4 STARS!


In the lusty humidity of the Deep South, among the neon lights of Vegas, and the glitz of high-fashion, demon slayers are the new sexy. . .
Hot! By Kathy Love
At Hot! Magazine, the devil really does wear Prada. When the CEO is an actual demon and the mail room guys are undercover demon slayers, it's not beyond the realm of possibility for an up-and-coming photographer and a model possessed by much more than a sweet tooth to fall in love.
What Slays In Vegas by Angie Fox
When a sexy succubus comes up against a fearless demon slayer intent on killing her boss, a truly wild Vegas night turns into a quickie wedding. But in a city where anything goes, a demon slayer wedding a succubus is strictly forbidden. Which doesn't mean either is rushing to jump out of the marriage bed.
The Bride Wore Demon Dust by Lexi George
He's perfection in a tuxedo—more so out of it—and on a mission to protect his Alabama gal from the mysterious mayhem intent on her destruction. But the bride is a spunky steel magnolia with special powers of her own, determined to drop-kick evil forces across the state line and give her slayer a run for his money.

************************************************************
What a tangled web they weave these Demons lol All the stories were fun to read and quick to get through.  I like a fun read from time to time.
The first story by Kathy Love was a little hard to follow at first but the story fell together quickly.  Hunky photographer and hot Demoness Model make for a great read!  I don't want to give away the story lol The love scene is spectacular!
The next story by Angie Fox is quite delicious as well.  What starts off a by the book feeding on lust turns into a crazy night and marriage.  I laughed like crazy reading this story.  The tangle of crazy things that happen really get you.  Your sure to enjoy this one, it keeps you reading right to the end.
The last story by Lexi Goerge ends the book perfectly!  Vivacious and ready to kick evil butt with a Hotty hubby to be can a story get any more interesting??? Nope this story is hopping with action, laughs and some serious love.
Hope you all get a chance to read this one because WOW what a fun book!  You'll want to finish it all in one sitting!

Leanne


Friday, December 16, 2011

Toni's Review of When a Duke Says I Do by Jane Goodger ***5 Stars***



Miss Elsie Stanhope resided in Nottinghamshire, an area so rich in titled gentlemen, so felicitous for marriage-minded mamas, it was called "the Dukeries." Indeed, Elsie had been betrothed since childhood to the heir of a dukedom. She had no expectation it would be a love match. Still less that she would enter into a shockingly scandalous affair with an altogether different sort of lover. And the very last thing she imagined was that the mysteries of his birth would be unraveled with as many unforeseen twists and turns as the deepest secrets of her heart.


********************


Elise Stanhope’s life is all planned out for her.  She has been engaged since was a child and soon she will be married to her betrothed.  She couldn't be more unhappy about it.  While she is reserved to know that she will do her duty for her family, she feels like there is more to life.  She knows that feeling is true the moment she sets her eyes on her muralist’s assistant.  There is something about the man that makes her feel alive.  Too bad there is nothing she can do about it…or is there?


Alexander’s life has been anything but a happy one.  He is unable to talk when scared or in public and that infliction has ruined his life.  Now an assistant to the renowned muralist Monsieur Laurent Desmarais, he is content with his life.  He has always wished for a family and a wife, but he knew that he would never be able to have one.  That doesn't mean that he can’t dream about it.  His life is about to change the moment he walks into Mansfield Hall.


Toni's Review of Remembrance by Eveli Acosta ***4 Stars***



Remembrance is the tale of a woman who has forgotten who she is, where she is and how she lost the love of her life. She wonders where she took the path that led her away from her dreams. She is living a life she doesn't remember or understand. She struggles to unravel her current life and let go of the one she left behind. She's continually re-living her past. The problem Viv faces is that she can't help but look back even though she has what every girl wants, a loving and devoted husband. But is that really enough or does she need the one from her dreams, the one she left in the past?
 

******************

First off, let me say I’m floored.  This novel was filled with rich details that pull you in.  I honestly have not read such a deep book in a long time.  I felt like a moth to a flame.  I couldn’t stop myself, totally mesmerized by the story.  This not an easy read.  You need to totally absorb yourself into this book, into the confused and brilliant mind of character.  You have to be connected to the story to stay ahead of the maze of Viv’s mind and thoughts.

Viv is a woman whose mind doesn’t quite seem to be her own.  She is a woman who always seems to be battling her past, always just apart from reality and desperate to bury the pain.  Yet there are parts of her past she can’t let go, like her love for Jaziel.  She will bury the pain of her childhood, her adolescence and even her marriage, but she can’t forget the boy/man that never was.  He is like a haunting ghost that haunts her days, nights, dreams and day dreams.  He is a pull that she can’t break and it is shattering her. 

Toni's Review of Night Reigns by Dianne Duvall ***5 Stars***


Ami isn't much for trusting strangers. She has a hard time trusting anyone. But she's no coward, and she's no pushover in the protection department either. So when she comes across a mysterious warrior taking on eight deranged vampires on his own, she doesn't hesitate to save his bacon. Of course, that was before she realized what one little rescue would get her into . . .

Marcus Grayden has been an immortal protector of humanity for eight hundred years, and at the moment he's not interested in backup. From the moment Ami arrives in his life, he can't deny that she's strong, smart, and extremely skilled at watching his back. But she's also destroying his protective solitude and stirring desires he can't bear to awaken. After all, whatever her secrets — how can she defeat death itself?

*************************

Book Two in the Immortal Guardian Series. 

Ok two days and two books and on the third day, let there be reviews.  Yes, I have done nothing but devour these two novels.  I have been captured by this amazing new universe and I am officially in love with the characters.  They feel like friends that I could cherish forever.  Yes, I will admit I love my fictional characters.  I know I’m not the only one out there that would love some Hunters or Brothers.  If you are like me, you know EXACTLY who I am talking about, so no mocking.

Marcus has lived a long time, over eight hundred years.  In that time, he has loved only one woman, Bethany, a woman that was destined to never be his, but to eternally break his heart.  In his whole existence there has only been her.  Having her in his life platonically, not once but twice, was all he could ever have.  Now he has lost her for the last time, eight years ago.  His chance to ever find love has disappeared forever.  All that changed the moment he set his eyes on a fiery red head that had talent with a gun and the ability to set his pulse racing.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Toni's Review of Darkness Dawns by Dianne Duvall ***5 Stars*** & BOOK GIVEAWAY



In this dazzling, sensual novel, Dianne Duvall beckons readers into a world of vampires, immortals, and humans with extraordinary gifts. . .where passion can last forever, if you're willing to pay the price. . .

Once, Sarah Bingham's biggest challenge was making her students pay attention in class. Now, after rescuing a wounded stranger, she's landed in the middle of a battle between corrupt vampires and powerful immortals who also need blood to survive. Roland Warbrook is the most compelling man Sarah has ever laid hands on. But his desire for her is mingled with a hunger he can barely control. . .

In his nine centuries of immortal existence, no woman has tempted Roland as much as Sarah. But asking her to love him is impossible--when it means forfeiting the world she's always known, and the life he would do anything to protect. . .


*****************

Vampires are real!!

You may not know this, but it is true.  It is actually a rare virus that once contracted causes an intense craving for blood and will eventually lead to madness.  There is the extreme rarity that if you are one of the lucky ones that have “special gifts”, the virus mutates.  If that is the case then your “gifts” will improve and as a whole you become more than expected, basically immortal. 

So there are things that DO go bump in the night and you need to be careful out there.  On the plus side, the “special” individuals are out there to protect us.  They call themselves Immortal Guardians.  Be very thankful that the Guardians are out there because something sinister is in the air.  The vampires are changing their patterns and things are not looking so good for us humans.

Love Reunites on Holidays by Clarissa Yip!!!



Love Reunites on Holidays



Holidays usually bring me that warm fuzzy feeling…well…okay after all the panic and stress I go through of prepping for the holidays. The Christmas shopping, arguments over parking spaces, grabbing for Christmas wish list items, waiting in long lines that give me gray hairs, having to wrap up everything and hide them, preparing for guests, attempts at cooking (ßnotice how I said attempts…I can’t stress how much you do not want me in your kitchen), then all the RSVPs that don’t show or holiday phone calls you forgot to make to people who couldn’t make it to your house…It’s stressful!

But once Christmas morning hits, everything is calm. Smiles are shared. Presents are opened. Everyone is happy…except for the people who get that ugly Christmas sweater…or coal in their stocking (That may be me…).

Holidays bring joy! And love! It’s the best time to reunite with your loves ones! Spend quality moments together and rejoice over past holidays!



In Snowy Encounters, Maddy had avoided returning home for years until her mother had put her foot down and demanded she show up or she’d be spending Christmas by herself. Who would want that? What’s a holiday without family? Without love?

She finds herself caught at the end of an avalanche only to be rescued by her ex-husband, Cole Harmon.

Now her ex is definitely a hunk. He owns the tourist lodge in Five Oaks and is preparing to open a new establishment, hoping to help their small town drive up business. A good-hearted man this determined should have a woman by his side to celebrate his successes. Maddy was once that woman until she’d chose a career in the city.

When two lonely souls reunite once again, love blossoms and the most wonderful things happen. You can only imagine the trials this couple has had to endure before they’ve reached their destination…reuniting their love on holidays.

Do you have a love story? Does it evolve around the holidays? Please do share!

Blurb:
Ever since her divorce, successful Event Planner Maddy Glover dreads
visiting her hometown. For the first time in three years, she returns home for the holidays and finds herself caught at the end of an avalanche. Only to be rescued by the one man she’s determined to avoid: her ex-husband.
Ambitious and desirable Cole Harmon lives to rebuild the town and to forget the woman who hadn’t believed he had enough to offer her—until Maddy shows up in her cute city-slicker attire and sexy black boots. In need of a decorator for the holidays, he hires his ex-wife to help, only to be thrown into dark buried memories and snowy encounters that may thaw the ice between them. Will their love rekindle or will Maddy walk away once again?




Thank you again Clarissa for being our guest again!  Happy Holidays!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Guest Author Nina Croft!!!! Giveaway!!!! "What's a Mince Pie???"


Please Welcome Author Nina Croft 
to
BOOKS READ 'N' MAKEUP DONE



What’s in a Mince Pie?

I’m English, and although I tend to write aimed at the American market, my characters are usually English and my stories tend to be set in England. So when my fantastic critique group, Passionate Critters, decided to write an anthology of Christmas stories and base them all around the fictional American town of Five Oaks, I knew I was venturing into alien territory.

I’ve had to become aware of the differences between American English and what we speak back home. It’s not just spelling, like realised and realized, but also actual words. We have lifts, Americans have elevators, we have pavements they have sidewalks. Jumpers are sweaters, cafes are diners, and boots are trunks.

And it goes deeper, to the food we eat and the way we celebrate certain festivals. So when I was writing my Christmas story, Mid-Winter Magic, it came as no surprise to discover that there are also big differences between English and American Christmas traditions.

“What’s a mince pie, Nina?”

One of my critique group asked me this question after reading my story. I was shocked—mince pies are a huge Christmas tradition in England. But a bit of research later, and yes—it’s true—Americans do not eat mince pies at Christmas. In fact, it seems many Americans don’t even know what a mince pie is.

When I was growing up, we would always leave a mince pie and a glass of sherry out for Father Christmas on Christmas Eve (and don’t forget the carrot for the reindeer), as a thank you for delivering the presents.

Another custom is that if you eat a mince pie every day from Christmas to Twelfth Night you will have happiness for the next twelve months. The perfect excuse for indulging.



In my story, the heroine, Dina, is a witch who has been hiding out in Five Oaks for the last fifty years. She’s been doing some typically unwitchy things while in hiding and one of them is learning to bake. And she’s quite good at it—go to any bake sale in Five Oaks and Dina’s cakes and pies will be among the best there.

As a witch, Dina never really celebrated Christmas. Her family was more into celebrating the mid-winter fire festival of Yule, where they would burn an oak log and dance around it in celebration of the rebirth of the sun. But still, growing up in England, it was hard not to take in the customs, and like me, Dina has fond memories of English Christmases. It therefore stands to reason that one of the things she would bake at Christmas time is mince pies.

So, the good people of Five Oaks now know what Father Christmas is munching when he sits down to his mince pie. But do you?



Leave a comment and let me know what your favorite Christmas food is from your part of the world and get a chance to win a free copy of my novella, Mid-Winter Magic.






Thank you so much Nina for being our guest!  Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Please Welcome Author Silke Juppenlatz to BOOKS READ AND MAKEUP DONE

Please Welcome Author Silke Juppenlatz
to
BOOKS READ AND MAKEUP DONE


It's that time of year again.
No, not that time. I meant the time of year when people like to make cookies.

When I was asked to write a Christmassy post for Books Read & Makeup Done, I thought "Oh my. I know nothin' 'bout no makeup!" I know about books, but that's where my expertise ends.
And then I figured rather than tell you all about Smitten -- I'll appeal to your sweet tooth instead.

Christmas is almost upon us, and if your house doesn't smell of baked goodies, you're missing out.
I figured I'll fix it for you, with a very simple recipe for Christmas cookies you've probably never had.
It goes particularly well with hot cocoa, curled up in front of the fire, reading Smitten, or you could grab a copy of the "A Passionate Christmas" Anthology from Decadent Publishing, and curl up with that. Trust me. ;)

Let me introduce:

Vanillekipferl
(Va-nil-kip-ferl)


VanillekipferlThis particular cookie is a staple at Christmas in Germany, although Vanillekipferl are actually Austrian in origin.
They are not difficult to make, but speed (and cold hands!) are almost a must. Don't make these in a hot kitchen, if you can avoid it, because they will melt before you can bake them.
The cookies are crescent shaped, relatively small, but oh...so good! Believe me, once you've made them, and your kids (or other loved ones) have tasted them, they will demand you make them every year.
(Better bookmark this page right now. You'll need it again next year, when the demands for Vanillekipferl roll in.)

Right. Let's get to it.

Ingredients
For the dough:
60g (2oz) ground almonds
100g (3 1/2oz) cold butter
40g (6 1/2 tbsp) icing sugar
1 egg yolk
2 vanilla pods (beans)
175g (2 1/3 cups) flour
A pinch of salt

For decoration:
100-150g (1 - 1 1/2 cups) icing sugar
Vanilla powder

Preparation:
  1. Put the ground almonds into a skillet and brown them, then allow to cool.
  2. Sift the flour before using it.
  3. Scrape the pulp from the two vanilla pods into the flour, add icing sugar, almonds and salt.
  4. Add the COLD butter and egg yolk, and QUICKLY knead into a smooth dough. (It helps to have cold hands. I'm not kidding. Don't worry too much if it gets soft, but do it quickly.)
  5. Let the dough rest in a cool (preferably cold) place for 2 hours. I tend to stick mine in the fridge.
  6. Form the dough into about 30 crescents and put them on a baking sheet with parchment / baking paper.
  7. If you can, put the crescents in the fridge for about 10 minutes before baking them. It firms them up again.
  8. While your crescents are resting again (lazy buggers), preheat your oven to 200°C / 400°F.
  9. Bake for approximately 10 minutes. (Or until a nice golden brown)
  10. Dust the still warm Vanillekipferl with vanilla icing sugar.
Times:
20 min preparation
10 min baking
2 hrs resting / cooling

Storage:
The best way to store them is in an airtight tin, with every layer separated with parchment paper.
They keep for several weeks -- provided you don't let anyone near the tin...

Handy Tip:
For the vanilla icing sugar, you can take the two vanilla pods you add to the dough and put them into a glass jar with the icing sugar the day before. Seal it tight and leave it overnight. The sugar takes on the vanilla taste overnight.
Or you can just mix the vanilla powder into the sugar the day before.

Enjoy!


Silke grew up in Germany and is used to things going bump in the night -- and it wasn't always the acrophobic cat, or someone hitting their head on a low beam on the ceiling.
She writes paranormal romance, usually at night, and blames Anne Stuart to this day for all her ambitions and strange stories, after reading one of her books.
These days the only thing going bump at "oh-dark-thirty" is her -- usually when she smacks into the sofa while creeping to the kitchen for another cup of coffee.

Silke likes to hear from her readers.
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