Monday, 30 September 2013

It's time for the September Baking Challenge reveal! If you have read The Vacant Chair by Kaylea Cross, please feel free to discuss it in the comments below or on twitter (tag @paperbackpastry and #TheVacantChair). You can read my review here.

Now on to the reveal! First, here's a recap of this month's challenge:

In The Vacant Chair, Brianna sends Justin homemade cookies with her letter. What would you send to a soldier?

I've had a lot of practice baking cookies for soldiers. It has to be something that travels well (so nothing that molds quickly or crumbles easily because nobody wants to eat mold and crumbs). It's also nice to send a really big batch so your goodies can be shared with everyone. With those things in mind, I picked this recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies.

Big Batch Oatmeal Raisin Cookies 
2 cups butter
1.5 cups brown sugar
1.5 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking soda
1.5 cups oats (any kind will work in this recipe)
4 cups raisins

Cream butter and sugars. Beat in vanilla and eggs. Set aside.
Combine dry ingredients, except oats and raisins. Mix into wet ingredients. Fold in oats. Stir in raisins.
Form into 1" balls and bake at 350F for about 15 minutes or until cookies are golden brown but still slightly soft in the centre.
Yield: 4-5 dozen cookies.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Book Tour: Finding Esta by Shah Wharton

Finding Esta is a paranormal mystery and they story of a woman's journey to find herself.

From Shah Wharton's blog:
Book 1 of The Supes Series: Finding Esta (Published)
Psychic flaws curse a fledgling journalist who seeks validation from loveless parents, and peace within her cruel world. When her investigation into child abduction leads her to the supernatural Cornish underworld, her sense of identity implodes as each incredible revelation steers her to a singularly mind-blowing question:
“What am I?”

I loved the plot and the personalities of the characters. The story really wasn't what I expected and I loved discovering it bit by bit (as you may have noticed, I hate predictable books). Paranormal and fantasy create such wonderful new worlds while still leaving so much room for the reader's imagination, and Finding Esta didn't disappoint on that front. I did think that the writing style left a bit to be desired though, so this one can only get 3 cupcakes out of 5. Do pick it up if you want an interesting, out-of-the-box read that lets your imagination run wild.

Buy Finding Esta

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Cover Reveal: The Keepers Series by Rae Rivers

The Keepers:
Sienna, Archer, Declan, Ethan
By Rae Rivers
Published by Harper Impulse, Harper Collins
SIENNA available September 26th

The Keepers: SIENNA
Available for pre-order now! 

A full moon in Rapid Falls.
Sienna Beckham is a powerful witch, and along with her four fiercely protective Keepers, it is her destiny to maintain the balance of nature in this world.
Tonight, it's the town carnival and everyone will be there: Sienna's family, her friends, her protectors. Archer.
Laughter and flirtation await.
But in a few hours, Sienna's life will have changed forever and her powers stretched to their very limits.
For something is lurking in the forest…
Murder. Sorcery. Revenge.
And no one sees it coming.
Find out how it all began…
The FREE PREQUEL to Rae Rivers' magical new series, The Keepers

Also look for the other three books in the series, ARCHER, DECLAN and ETHAN 


Author Info
I’m an avid reader and writer with a passion for writing romance novels. I live in Cape Town, South Africa, with my gorgeous husband, two beautiful children and a zoo of house pets. Besides writing, I love family time, the outdoors, travelling, watching TV series, reading and chocolate. For more information about my books, or me, please visit

I can also be found here:
Twitter: @raerivers1

Monday, 16 September 2013

Cover Reveal: Unnatural by JA Belfield

Unnatural by J.A. Belfield

Unnatural. One word to sum up werewolf Kyle Larsen—his mood swings, abnormal body, and choice of female.
The first two, he blames on the vampire venom.

The third, though? No, feline shifter Brook Nicholls was all his doing—a female of whom the pack will never approve.
As part of the Coalition, an organisation with even stricter rules than the pack and a rigidly warped sense of responsibility, Brook comes with a whole lot of opposition of her own.
No wonder the two of them keep their relationship secret for as long as they can.
Now, distanced from his family by his own indiscretions, Kyle’s left to fight battles he’s unsure how to win—some of them even against his own pack.
Is one woman really so important that he’s willing to defy his Alpha for her?
If his heart has any say in the matter, the answer will be yes.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Review and September Baking Challenge: The Vacant Chair by Kaylea Cross

Now that we've all had a chance to read September's book club/baking challenge book, I'd like to share my review with you.

I loved The Vacant Chair. The vivid scenes of war, written with heart-wrenching simplicity, are historically and emotionally accurate. Justin's struggle with his part in the war, the conflict between the cause he believes in and the questionable ethics of orders along with the harshness of his experiences capture the duality many soldiers struggled to handle. Each detail Kaylea included in the book was accurate and well-written.

My favourite part of the story was the correspondence between Brianna and Justin. Watching the pair grow closer through their letters reminded me of my own special soldier and the way we held on to each other during his deployment. Kaylea captures the emotions of this in a way that shows she has not only done her research, but also truly understands what it means to be a military family in any century.


Baking Challenge: In The Vacant Chair, Brianna sends Justin homemade cookies with her letter. What would you send to a soldier? Bake it and link up your post or picture at the end of the month.

Don't forget to comment below to let us know what you thought of the book (no spoilers, please!). Did you connect with the story and characters the way I did? Did it feel emotionally real to you?

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Review and Giveaway: How to Win a Guy in 10 Dates

The 10 Date Challenge
Day 1: Take one loaded commitment-phobe explosives expert, embarking on the impossible–a challenge to have ten dates with one woman.
Day 5: Add in a fiercely independent and feisty burlesque teacher who has sworn off men.
Day 10: She’s so not his type and he’s so not in her life-plan. But the heat is sizzling and the attraction is explosive. And they’re fighting it all the way….

Buy How to Win a Guy in Ten Dates

The premise of How to Win a Guy in 10 Dates is a bit ridiculous - Ed's sister bets that he can't take a woman out on ten regular dates, then he nearly blows up Millie, the perfect candidate for this ten date challenge - but then, that's true of most romance novels. That's part of what makes them a guilty pleasure. So ridiculousness aside, this book was actually a pretty good read. Millie is an feisty character who strives for independence and hides from love so she won't get her heart broken. Ed is a womanizer with secrets of his own. Together, the two embark on their relationship with humour and sincerity.

Jane Linfoot did a good job writing her characters, but a great job describing the scenery and setting scenes. I had a vivid picture of the book in my mind the whole way through. If you're looking for a fun read, this would be a good one to pick up.


Follow the How to Win a Guy in Ten Dates Tour here!

Author Info
I write fun, flirty fiction, with feisty heroines and a bit of an edge. Writing romance is cool, because I get to wear pretty shoes instead of gumboots. I live in a mountain kingdom in Derbyshire, England, where my family and pets are kind enough to ignore the domestic chaos – happily, we’re in walking distance of a supermarket. I love hearts, flowers, happy endings, all things vintage, most things french. When I’m not on facebook, and can’t find an excuse for shopping, I’ll be walking, or gardening. On days when I want to be really scared, I ride a tandem.


Win a $10 Amazon Gift Card or an iTunes voucher for a Harper Impulse Digital Book
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Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Review: The Host by Stephenie Meyer

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Leaving those silly sparkly vampires behind, Stephenie Meyer embarks on a journey through an alien invasion like you've never read before in her first adult novel. The aliens in The Host are small, silver beings that implant into the brains of a planet's natives. They've traveled the universe, inserting themselves into the lives of their hosts, who easily succumb. Except where Melanie Stryder is concerned. Melanie will not succumb. She fights for control of her body and mind every step of the way, while her alien probes for the location of the human resistance - and the man- Melanie longs to rejoin.

Part sci fi adventure, part romance, The Host tells a tale of love, persistence and humanity. Deftly touching on both the best and worst of what it means to be human, Meyer weaves a story that will warm your heart and incite disgust, while making you question just what makes us human.

Not being a huge Twilight fan (gasp!), I was only cautiously optimistic about this book, but I can safely say I've joined the ranks as one of Stephenie Meyer's fangirls. This is one I wouldn't mind rereading, and I plan on being first in line for the sequel.


Monday, 9 September 2013

September Spotlight: Indulgence Books


Country singer Billy Hardy needs to get back on the charts. His manager assures him headlining the opening of a cafe in South Beach is his best chance at getting back to the big time. If he fails, his career is over for good this time. Lacey Durrant can’t believe opening night includes the country singer she crushed on through college. And her customers agree he’s dreamy. But his playboy reputation threatens her cafe’s image and she can’t afford that. She insists Billy stay with her so she can keep an eye on him, and thwart overenthusiastic fans. Billy’s charms and Lacey’s sexy curves prove more than either can resist, but she refuses to be just another lyric in his well-known songs of heartbreak. 

Stranded in paradise with no way to get home, Leah Smith needs a miracle, and fast. Instead, she gets Marshall Jackson, surely the sexiest man alive. Too bad he’s got an emotional wall around himself–and her only hope of getting off the island … Marshall has a strict no damsels in distress policy, but there’s something about Leah that makes him want to break his own rules. He agrees to let her work in his bar until she earns enough to get home. But the more time they spend together, the harder it is to deny the scorching attraction between them. Soon hot island nights provide balm to their wounded souls, but will these two flawed exiles make peace with the past in time to claim the future they deserve together–or will paradise be lost?

Mason Christian has twelve weeks to flip something old into something new for his Japanese client, and then he’s getting the hell out of Footsteps Bay. Not even his temporary cook and secretary–the feisty, luscious Billie McLeod–will deter him. But there’s no denying she makes him feel alive. More alive than he’s felt in three years… Billie has one dream: save enough money to attend culinary college. That's why she’s agreed to work for hard ass, all-business-no-pleasure Mason Christian–a man who has every intention of destroying through modernization the town’s most cherished historical home. But before she can say see ya, she realizes she’s signed the dotted line and is contractually bound to be number Forty-Two for eighty-four days. But working with male perfection every day is awesome with a capital A–as long as they can stick to a hands-off policy that gets harder every day… 


Felicity Williams can’t remember the last five years thanks to an accident that wiped out her memory. She fled her old life in hopes of starting fresh and found refuge working on a cruise ship. But her past is coming for her… Rick McCarthy awakens after a climbing accident to discover that his business partner and fiancĂ©e has quit her job and disappeared. He’s trying to accept that she’s run out on him, but now he needs her signature to close a deal that could literally be life or death. He’ll go to any extreme to get what he needs…even if that means becoming someone else to win her back. But a little lie becomes a large mess when they’re stranded on a deserted island together, and old misunderstandings might ruin their chance at new love…

Friday, 6 September 2013

Review: The Spark by Kristine Barnett

Kristine Barnett's son, Jacob, is a genius with a photographic memory. He took his first college-level courses at the age of eight. At thirteen, he's already a paid researcher and on track to potentially win a Nobel Prize someday. And he has autism. The Spark is the memoir of mother and son.

I read The Spark for a book club. Before I had read even a word of it, I was excited. Memoirs, especially those written by "regular" people (i.e. not famous actors, controversial politicians or the like) about their very relatable challenges, fears, successes and loves. Once I started reading, my excitement waned. Don't get me wrong, the idea of this book and Jacob's story are fantastic. I would read a thousand similar long as they were written by different authors. I, and a lot of readers I spoke with, found Kristine Barnett's voice to be a bit off-putting. I was barely able to finish a book I had been excited to read before cracking its cover.

Personal preferences aside, Barnett also gives the impression that autism can be "conquered" so to speak, by a persistent mother. That isn't the case. There is much we still don't know about autism and it's almost impossible to predict outcomes. I was left with the feeling that readers could come away from this book with a sense of false hope or, worse still, a feeling that they did not do enough to "fix" their child's autism. For those reasons, I just can't get behind this book.

Have you read The Spark? Did you find the voice of the author off-putting? Am I being too picky? Have you ever read a book that you didn't like simply because of the way it was written?


Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Cover Reveal: Redemption Red by Delancey Stewart

I'm excited to bring to you the cover reveal of Redemption Red by Delancey Stewart! This book is scheduled to be released October 15th, 2013.

Redemption Red by Delancey Stewart (A Wine Country Romance)

Love, loss, and a smoky red…

When Audrey Montgomery’s carefully planned life collides with the self-destructive path Tyson Dawes is on, neither of them can predict what will happen next.

Audrey is a diligent and self-reliant culinary student at Portland’s prestigious Cordon Bleu. She has a clear picture of her future in mind, and it allows little room for the steely-eyed and tormented young man she bumps into by chance while wine tasting with friends.

Tyson Dawes had a perfect childhood, raised among the vines in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. But even the most idyllic of upbringings couldn’t have prepared him for what he would face as a Marine. He returns to his childhood home angry and haunted by the storms of what he has faced and by those he has lost.
Do opposites truly attract? Can the lure of Audrey’s apparent clarity and innocence offer Tyson hope in the face of his emptiness?
This is the second book in the Wine Country Romance Series. The first book, A Rare Vintage was published in June and is available on Amazon.

While Redemption Red is part of the Wine Country Romance Series, it is a stand alone. These books can each be read individually.

Add the book on GoodReads.

Buy A Rare Vintage, on sale now for only .99 cents! 

About the author:
Delancey Stewart has lived on both coasts, in big cities and small towns. She's been a pharmaceutical rep, a personal trainer and a wine seller. Despite lots of other interests, she has always been a writer.
A military spouse and the mother of two small boys, her current job titles include pirate captain, monster hunter, Lego assembler, story reader, and tech writer for a defense contractor. She tackles all these efforts at her current home in Southern Maryland.
Delancey Stewart is the author of Through a Dusty Window: New York City Stories 1910-2001 and the Wine Country Romance Series which includes: A Rare Vintage and Redemption Red, as well as the Girlfriends of Gotham Series, publishing with Swoon Romance. The first book in that series, Men and Martinis, will be released in Winter 2013.

Find the author:
Website/Blog | Facebook | Twitter


Must be 18 or older to enter
One winner will win (US only): 
- an ebook copy of both "A Rare Vintage" and "Redemption Red"
- a gorgeous bracelet created with recycled wine bottles on an aluminum link bracelet. It measures 7 1/2 inches long and features green, brown, blue, gold and clear color glass rings. The bracelet is handmade and can be dressed up or down, thanks to the elegant styling. 
- a 10 ounce jar of Oregon Pinot Noir chocolate sauce from Euphoria Chocolate Company in Oregon (where Redemption Red is set). Great for use on ice cream, in coffee or just on a spoon! 
4 winners will win (INT):
- an ebook of Redemption Red
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Sunday, 1 September 2013

September 2013 Baking Challenge Book: The Vacant Chair

This month, I've chosen The Vacant Chair by the wonderful Kaylea Cross as our Book Club and Baking Challenge pick. Kaylea usually writes military romantic suspense, but the Civil War buff tried something new with The Vacant Chair.

The Vacant Chair is a historical romance. It follows Brianna Taylor, widow turned nurse at a Union hospital, and Captain Justin Thompson of the Union army. After their first chance meeting, Brianna and Justin meet again at the hospital where he has been left to die. Nurse and patient grow closer, but both know it's only a matter of time before Justin heals and is sent back to the fight.

I've already finished reading my copy and, while I'm saving my review for the Baking Challenge post on the 15th of the month, I will tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope Kaylea tries some more historical fiction very soon!

As a special bonus and because I love supporting Kaylea's work and want to encourage you to participate in the book club/baking challenge, I'm offering readers the chance to win a digital copy of The Vacant Chair! It's formatted for Nook, but even if you don't have one, enter! There are free Nook apps that will work on other devices so you'll be able to read it anyway.

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