30 November 2009

Q & A with Penny Watson

Happy Monday! My guest today is author Penny Watson. Her yummy Christmas eBook Sweet Inspiration is available for purchase next Wednesday 12.02.09.

Thank you for joining us today Penny. I really enjoyed Sweet Inspiration.

Q: One of my favorite parts of the book is the Klaus brothers. Each one sounds so handsome, funny, and unique. What was your inspiration for them?

A: Thanks, Juju! I am a big fan of JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood Series. I love the camaraderie of the "brothers"...I love the banter, the alpha male-bonding and loyalty, as well as the conflict. I thought it would be fun to have five different sons, each with his own unique personality, and still show that sort of brotherhood in a lighter, more comical way. I love the idea of five giant Klaus sons helping their dad (Santa) run the North Pole. Since I "pants" my stories (make them up as I go along!), the brothers just sort of evolved as I was writing.

Q: Will each of the brothers get their own book/love story?

A: Yes, each of the brothers will get his own story and romantic adventure. I'm already working on book #2, called Sweet Magik. It's Oskar's story.

Q: I noticed on your blog you occasionally share recipes. Would you mind sharing one with my readers now?

A: Thanks! I would love to. This is my favorite Christmas cookie recipe from my mom.

Mary's Mexican Wedding Cakes:
2 c. flour
1 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
2 t. vanilla
1/4 t. salt
1 c. finely ground pecans
powdered sugar

Beat first five ingredients at low speed until just mixed, then at medium speed until light and fluffy. Stir in pecans. Wrap dough in saran wrap and chill for 2 hours. Roll into one inch balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheet about 1" apart. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes (or until lightly browned). Cool slightly. Roll in powdered sugar. Cool completely, then roll in powdered sugar again. Merry Christmas!

Q: Who is your favorite Klaus brother and why?

A: This is a tough question. I fall in love with each of them while I am writing about them. Right now my favorite is Nicholas. He's an uptight master pastry chef who learns to loosen up and embrace life and love through his relationship with Lucy. As Lucy describes him, he is an irresistible "...combination of passion, creativity, discipline and self-control." He also happens to be a delicious giant of man, with a sexy tattoo of holly and ivy on one massive bicep. That sounds pretty good to me! :)

Doesn't that sound delicious? Thanks again for visiting Penny. It was such a pleasure having you.

Click here to visit Penny Watson's web site.
Click here to visit Penny Watson's book review blog.
Click here to read my review of Sweet Inspiration.

27 November 2009

Sweet Inspiration eBook Review

Authoress: Penny Watson
Pages: 193
Format: eBook
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Publisher's Sensuality Type: Sensual
Genre: Adult Fiction | Romance | Steamy | Magical Realism
Scheduled Purchase Price: $4.50

My summary: Lucy owns a sweet bakery called Sweet Inspiration known for making some of the best sugar cookies ever. Nicholas is a master pastry chef that tours the world studying and perfecting confections.

This is the story of the sparks that fly when Nicholas decides to seduce Lucy for more than her sugar cookie recipe.

Oh did I forget to mention Nicholas just happens to be the oldest son and heir to the Santa Claus throne?

What they say: "What if the legend of Santa Claus is in fact, true?

What if Santa has five big strapping sons who help him run his empire? Five single, sexy sons looking for romance...

One look at cafe owner Lucy Brewster sends Nicholas into an unexpected tailspin of lusty desires. When Lucy is injured, Nicholas makes a decision that catapults their lives into turmoil. Lucy gets more than she bargained for when she awakens in the North Pole...rambunctious elves, a fitness-obsessed Santa, and the man of her dreams."

My say: Sweet Inspiration is one wild fun hot ride. I was sucked in from the moment Penny Watson first described Nicholas Jr. as smelling like "smoky rum and dark spices". Yum much!? Well and I love any writer who can bring my senses to life and use a word like "reverie". This story honestly has all the elements a gal would want from a romantic Christmas story.

Deliciously vivid descriptions and word usage?: Check
A plot that includes a trip to the North Pole?: Check
Adorable characters you will wish you could meet in real life?: Check
A Merry Christmas feel that will leave you feeling merry?: Check
Sizzling love scenes?: Check

My rating: 4 stars; I really enjoyed this story.

My verdict: If you are looking for a delectable playful Christmas read (and don't mind provocative) pick this one up. It SO cute and loads of fun.

Favorite part?: Getting to drink and play darts with some ornery elves.

The Meter Readings:
Kiddie-o-meter: Too spicy for the wee ones.
Adult-o-meter: This one leaves nothing to the imagination. It is written for grown girls who relish all the juicy details of attraction and love making. Side note: the super hot Klaus brothers banter and occasionally curse amongst each other just like real guys do.

Quoteables: "He tasted like Christmas. Brandy, cloves, and dark molasses. His tongue was doing slippery, sexy things to her mouth that were simply unbearable."

"Lucy watched, mesmerized. His beard was thick and dark and neatly trimmed. What would it feel like? Coarse and rough, or silky smooth? Without thinking, she reached out to touch his face."

Noteable: My favorite part of this book is the Klaus brothers who help Santa run his empire. Each alluring brother runs a different branch. Click on their names below to read the hilarious character interviews Penny Watson has put together of each one:

Oskar Klaus = The slightly punk brother = Employee relations
Sven Klaus = The hippie brother = Toy production
Gregor Klaus = The expensive suits brother = Financial relations
Wolfgang Klaus = The humanitarian brother = Charitable gifts
Nicholas Klaus = The master chef brother = Desserts and goodies

Warning: This story will make you SO hungry. Keep the gingerbread men handy!

My final say: I can't stop thinking of Wolfie. He is definitely my favorite.

A great big special thank you to The Wild Rose Press for making this review possible.
Your site and eBook selection continues to impress me and subsequently my Wish List continues to grow.

25 November 2009

Evidence of Angels Picture Book Review

Book: Evidence of Angels
By: Suza Scalora with Francesca Lia Block
Pages: 64
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: HarperCollins

My summary: Evidence of Angels is a remarkably stunning collection of photographs accompanied by a brief story about the author's journey with angels. After the loss of a loved one the author plunges in to a deep depression. Until one day she hears a voice that compels her to open her eyes and pick up her camera. The voice said:

"Stand Up. Everything in your life has meaning. Your journey is to find it."

From that moment on she begins to see and experience angels. This lovely collection represents her journey and the types of angels she has encountered and witnessed along the way.

My say: Beautiful. Gorgeous. Buy it. Buy it for that relative you can not decide what to get for Christmas. But I warn you the images are so ethereal and vibrant you may decide to make it a permanent fixture on your coffee table.

My rating: 5 stars; I really liked the story and the letters (names and details from the actual testimonials were changed for confidentiality reasons). But what I really loved was the pictures/representations of the angels Suza has met.

My favorite part: One image looks like a typical day in a New York City park. A couple is walking by, the sun is shining, and the fountains are on. A little boy (about 2-3 years old) is looking up. When you look closer it appears the passerby has overlooked what has caught the child's attention. What could easily be seen as a slant of light is in fact an angel. The caption reads:

"We are with you."

Noteworthy: When previously asked what she hopes readers will take away from this book Suza answered: "The messages I would like Evidence of Angels to impart to readers is: you are never alone and guidance is available if you ask. It may come in ways you don't expect, but if you keep your heart and mind open you will see signs everywhere. And nothing ever truly dies: all energy is merely transformed. So, when a loved one passes on they are still with you, although their form no longer exists. Our soul is eternal."

Click here to purchase Evidence of Angels from Amazon.
Click here to learn more about Suza Scalora's photography.
Click here to visit her book site Myth.com.
Click here to follow Suza Scalora on Twitter.
Click here to purchase prints from Evidence of Angels.
Click here to purchase postcards from Evidence of Angels.
Click here to watch an interview with Suza Scalora.
Click here to send a free Evidence of Angels E-card.

My final say: I would love to pick Suza's brain one day over a couple cups of coffee.

Thank you so much Suza for making this review possible.

24 November 2009

Dresskeeper Contest Now Open Internationally

Thanks to the lovely people over at Prospera Publishing my
giveaway of The Dresskeeper has now been extended to include 3 more books.

But the best news?
It is now open internationally! So what does this mean?
You now have 4 chances to win The Dresskeeper (my copy plus 3 from the publisher) and all international followers are urged to enter. So what are you waiting for?
Head over and enter The Dresskeeper Contest. Good luck!

Note: The contest deadline to 12.31.09. If for some reason you can not bear waiting until January please visit Prospera Publishing to purchase The Dresskeeper with FREE international shipping.

23 November 2009

Q & A with Mary Naylus

Happy Monday!

My guest today is Mary Naylus.

Mary is the author of The Dresskeeper.

Thank you for joining us today Mary.

I adored The Dresskeeper and the unlucky heroine plucky Picky. So my first question begins with Picky.

Q: Picky is an unusual heroine in that she is overweight and has a wandering eye. More often than not writers prefer their heroines to be beauties or unintentional beauties. Why did you decide to make Picky different and who if anyone was your inspiration for her?

A: I think everyone needs realistic role models, and Picky represents that part of us that is insecure and not perfect. I am not a fan of unintentional beauties; in my experience they don’t really exist. I prefer a healthy dose of reality in my fictional characters.

Q: Has your teenage daughter read The Dresskeeper? What does she think of Picky?

A: I just asked her and she says she ‘loled’ at her. I suspect that she recognises some of the more lazy aspects of Picky in herself (or at least I hope she does).

Q: Will we ever see Picky again?

A: The reaction to Picky has been so good that I have decided to include her in my third novel, but more on that soon! However I can say it involves the British Museum and some really old exhibits.

Q: What can we expect from your next novel?

A: The Plaguemaker has ghosts and gross disease, plus a little teenage romance. Something for history buffs and lovers of the supernatural. No time-travel this time.

Q: If you could step into a magical time traveling dress where would you like to visit?

A: Renaissance Italy. It would be fabulous to meet the Medicis; might even be my fourth novel. Thank you for your interest Juju, keep going with the great blog.

Wahoooo! You heard it here girls.

1. We will be seeing Picky again. Whoot!

2. Mary's 4th book may take place or include Renaissance Italy.

Thank you Mary for taking the time to answer my questions and visit my blog. I am quite honored. I wish you the best of luck and look forward to The Plaguemaker.

Details on The Dresskeeper:

Click here to read my review of The Dresskeeper and enter to win my Advanced Readers Copy. Contest ends Dec. 31.

Click here to pre-order The Dresskeeper with FREE International Shipping.

For a sneak peak of The Dresskeeper scroll down:

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19 November 2009

News Flash: A hotel for bookworms

When I came across this hotel in GO (AirTran Airways Inflight Magazine)...I gasped.

It's called... are you ready for this?:

"The library themed hotel room is numbered according to the Dewey Decimal System, with a different selection of books in every suite."

So on top of having books in every room the entire hotel is full of lovely little places to read.
Click here for pictures.

So what do you think?
Have you heard of this hotel before?
Bookworm paradise or sort of silly?

Personally I think it sounds like getting to sleep in Borders.
Count me in.
I can not wait to visit NYC again now.

18 November 2009

The Beautiful Sedona Public Library

In honor of my recent trip to Arizona I would like to feature the Sedona Public Library.
The inside is rustic and beautiful. You can cuddle up next to a stone fire place and read
while gazing at the red mountains. Overall this library is really quite lovely
and I'm afraid my pictures just do not do it justice.


17 November 2009

Rowan of the Wood & Witch on the Water Contest Winner

from Book Rat

Congratulations Misty! You have won an autographed paperback copy of
Rowan of the Wood AND Witch on the Water. You have also won a pewter bookmark.
I will be contacting you via email for your mailing address. Thank you to everyone who entered! The winner was selected using Random.Org.

13 November 2009

Eureka! Great Works of Literature Go Bovine

I could not help it.

The moment I saw the 2010 Chick-fil-A calendar was going to feature bovines reenacting great works of literature I knew I had to have it.

  • January: The Three Brisketeers
  • February: Steerlock Holmes
  • March: Salisbury in Wonderland
  • April: Old Mooer
  • May: Robinson Cowrusoe
  • June: Bulliver's Travels
  • July: Mooby Dick
  • August: Ali Babacue and the 40 Chefs
  • September: 20,000 Bales Under the Sea
  • October: Flankenstein
  • November: Porter Pan
  • December: A Christmas Cowbell

What do you think?
Have you seen the calendar?

06 November 2009

Whimsy Update: Vacation Notice

Mr. Whimsy and I are headed to Arizona for ten days.

Therefore, please forgive Tales of Whimsy...
for limited (to no) content (and commenting)
from now until November 17th.

Please check back November 17th
when I announce the winner of the
Rowan of the Wood & Witch on the Water
gift pack.

Oh my dearies
while I will most surely be enjoying my self
please rest assured I will also
be missing each and
every one of you.

"So long!
Auf Weidersehen, good-bye!
I leave & heave
A sigh & say good-bye."

05 November 2009

The Dresskeeper Book Review & Contest

Authoress: Mary Naylus
Pages: (Paperback)
Genre: Young Adult Fiction | Historical

My summary: Picky's life sort of sucks. She has a wandering eye and a growing waist line. Life is totally drab until she embarks on the biggest adventure of her life when she unwittingly tries on a dress that transports her to 17th Century London. Now she has to figure out how to leave, get back, and save her 17th Century self.

Poor plucky Picky.

My say: My word that was good. The Dresskeeper is fast paced, quick witted, and totally clever. Picky is a refreshingly honest modern day British teen who made me laugh and laugh. I loved her imperfections and inner voice.

My rating: 5 stars; This story is so good I gobbled it up. I started it as soon as I removed it from the package Monday and finished scarfing it down over lunch Tuesday.

My verdict: Buy this one! It is that good.

Plot: Excellent!
Characters: Believable
Writing: Hysterical
Heroine: Clever
Overall: Real

Favorite part?: Getting to see (and smell) old London.

The Meter Readings:
Adventure-o-meter: High. Poor Picky is always in a race against time and societal expectations.
Kiddie-o-meter: While there is no sex this one does contain themes that are pertinent to 17th Century London; such as disease, slavery, and underage marriage. But it is all done extremely well. I think younger teens will enjoy reading about what life was really like for a wealthy 13 year old in the late 1600s. This is an adventurous tale with a hidden history lesson.
Adult-o-meter: While this is written for younger readers I dare any adult to try this book and not find themselves utterly enchanted.

"Wake up, wake up, wake up, WAKE UP!
But my unconscious is obviously on strike after being forced to facilitate Daniel Radcliffe dreams for the best part of the last two years."

"Most of her relatives look like the missing link between Capuchin monkeys and humans."

  1. As I mentioned above, Picky is British so Americans may encounter some terms they are not familiar with. However do not fret or let this stop you. The meanings are totally easy to decipher and you will not miss a beat.
  2. To read sample chapters click here.
  3. The Dresskeeper is not scheduled to release in the US. It will release in the UK at the end of this month. Americans interested in purchasing should visit the publishers web site and receive FREE worldwide shipping. Click here.
Shout-out: Becky at The Bookette has an excellent interview with the author Mary Naylus.

Pass-the-mic: Read Sammee's review of The Dresskeeper at I Want To Read That.

Want to win The Dresskeeper?
I have 4 copies to giveaway.
Note: One is my gently used copy and three will
come directly from the publisher.
To enter you must be or become a
follower and comment with your
email address below. Existing followers
will receive an additional entry.
Contest is open internationally
and ends December 31st.

My final say: What is a "flake"? Is that like a potato chip?

A huge thanks to Prospera Publishing for both my advanced copy
and making copies available to my readers.

04 November 2009

Illuminating Random Magic

Today I would like to illuminate Random Magic by Sasha Soren.

Product Description:
"When absent-minded Professor Random misplaces the main character from Alice in Wonderland, young Henry Witherspoon must book-jump to fetch Alice before chaos theory kicks in and the world vanishes."

"Descriptive and quirky" by Eleni at La Femme Readers

"Cute and quirky" by Michelle at Michelle's Book Blog

"Fun, comical, and quirky" by Kim at And Anything Bookish

"Random" with "magical elements" by Kate at The Neverending Shelf

"A vivid dream" by Elnice at Ellz Readz

"Smart book" by Cat at Beyond Books

But perhaps my very favorite review comes from Aimee over at My Fluttering Heart. Her description is near perfect. She said: "Random Magic might be a bit too quirky for some, but it's a strangely lovable creature. Kind of like that eccentric neighbour three doors down who recites poetry to her flowers, and throws the newspaper back at the postman. AND has about a thousand cats popping out of each nook and cranny around the yard, including the evil spitting one that you have to cross the road in order to avoid on the way to school. But all is forgiven because that same strange neighbour bakes the most delicious cupcakes - and always offers you the biggest one."

My observation: If you dig eccentric don't let this one fall of your radar.

Quoteable: "Henry jumped half-heartedly onto the book on the floor, and was more surprised than anyone when he vanished in a burst of green light. Green? the professor though. Wrong color. He looked down. Henry had leaped into The REALLY BIG Book of Myths and Legends."

For more info:
To purchase Random Magic click here.
To visit Sasha Soren's blog click here.
To visit Random Magic on Goodreads click here.
To visit Random Magic on Shelfari click here.
To visit Random Magic on Twitter click here.
To see the Random Magic tour schedule click here.
For a writing sample of Random Magic click here.

Watch the trailer:

Midnight Tea, ala Random Magic by Sasha Soren

In the prologue of Random Magic, Lady Witherspoon calls for a charming midnight tea, to cope with some distressing news.

Here we’ve presented a sample menu you can make at home, if you’d like to read along and also enjoy a spot of midnight tea.

This should serve between 1-4 people – yourself and your lovely guests. Or, you could just have all the cucumber sandwiches gloriously to yourself. We won’t blame you.

Savory menu:
  • Tuna, salmon, egg open-face sandwiches
  • Cucumber and watercress sandwiches
  • Cheese and olive-mushroom mini-kebabs
Sweets menu:
  • Brie sandwiches and fruit
  • Blue cheese and pear sandwiches
  • Chocolate-covered strawberries
  • Figs and honey
Selection of teas: Ceylon, Earl Grey, chamomile or mint

What you’ll need: Presentation items
  • Tea pot
  • Attractive plates and serving cups, 1-4
  • Additional serving plates to hold goodies
  • Fresh flowers of your choice for centerpiece
  • Pretty napkins
  • Tea strainer (if you’re using leaf tea, rather than tea bags)
  • Container for cream
  • Container for milk
What you’ll need: Shopping list
  • Three boxes of selected teas.
  • Suggested types of tea: Earl Gray or Ceylon, and perhaps mint or chamomile, for guests who prefer a tisane.
  • Milk, half gallon
  • Cream, liter
  • Two small packages rye, brown bread, pumpernickel, or any artisan bread you prefer
  • One package each: Blue cheese, brie, cheddar or pepperjack
  • One stick of butter
  • One package of cream cheese
  • Two hard-boiled eggs
  • Two cucumbers
  • Radishes (2-5)
  • One can caviar
  • One can tuna or salmon
  • One small red, yellow or green pepper
  • Handful of shelled walnuts
  • One bottle of capers
  • One or two Granny Smith apples
  • Pint of strawberries
  • Half bar baking chocolate
  • Two oranges
  • One crunchy pear
  • Two kiwi fruits
  • One bunch each green, red, blue grapes (Concord grapes)
  • One bunch fresh figs
  • Small jar of honey
  • One bunch watercress
  • One bunch scallions
  • One bunch parsley
  • One bunch dill
  • One jar marinated mushrooms and/or olives
  • Two lemons, one lime
  • Toothpicks
  • Sheet of wax paper
How to make everything: General preparation
  • Wash all produce thoroughly.
  • Peel all vegetables and all fruits except strawberries, then slice thinly, put aside.
  • Peel and slice egg into thin slices, put aside.
  • Select suitable breads for savory or sweet sandwiches.
  • Cube all cheeses into small cubes. Slice the Brie into thin slices.
  • Cut bread into nibble-size slices, put aside.
How to make everything: Mixing
  • Mix tuna or salmon with a dollop of mayonnaise and a pinch of fresh dill. Shred or mince half of Granny Smith apple, add. Mix. Put aside.
  • Mix 3/4 stick of cream cheese with chopped scallions and twist or two of black pepper, squeeze in a twist of lemon or lime (optional). Put aside.
  • Mix quarter stick cream cheese with several crumbs of blue cheese, mix until smooth. Put aside.
How to make everything: Putting the menu together.

Spread cream cheese mixture thinly on several slices of bread. Arrange radish slices and spring of parsley on top. Arrange slice of egg on top, garnished with slices of mushroom or olive. Lastly, arrange watercress and thin cucumber slices on last few slices, can be accented with a sprig of dill or parsley (optional).

Spread butter thinly in several slices of bread. Top with caviar.

Spread blue cheese-cream cheese mixture thinly on several slices of
bread. Arrange pear slices on top, garnish with walnuts.

Add slice of Brie cheese to slices of bread, top with slice of kiwi
and orange segment, place selection of grapes alongside on serving

Spread tuna or salmon on slices of bread, garnish with capers, slices
olives or thin slices of pepper.

On a toothpick, thread a cube of cheese, then an olive or mushroom,
then another cube of cheese, until finished. For a fruit kebab, use
slices of apple in between.

Melt your chocolate slowly in pan, add to bowl. Working quickly, grab each strawberry by the stem and dip or roll into the chocolate until the bottom half is coated. Put strawberries on sheet of wax paper to cool. To serve, remove from wax paper and arrange nicely on serving dish.

Figs and honey:
Wash and cut figs in half. Arrange on serving plate, drizzle honey over plate. Microwave for 10-15 seconds. Serve warm, but be careful of heated plate.

How to make everything: Preparing for display

Arrange all the savory items on pretty dishes. Garnish with
mini-kebabs, slices of lemon or orange, parsley. Include bunches of
grapes with cheese sandwiches and Brie.

Heat the teapot and water for the tea, pop in one teabag or one
heaping tablespoon for each cup of tea needed. Drain the tea if loose
leaves are used, or let teabags steep, then remove and discard.

Arrange the table – fresh flowers, nice napkins, place setting for each person.

Make a fresh pot of tea as necessary. Be sure guests have access to
milk, cream honey, sugar or slices of lemon, fresh plates, etc.

Apart from that, just savor the company and the food – and the offbeat fun of a midnight tea party.

Bon appétit!