Saturday, July 21, 2018

Review: Real Life Dinners - Rachel Hollis

Real Life Dinners: Fun, Fresh, Fast Dinners from the Creator of the Chic Site
by Rachel Hollis
Published: June 5, 2018 by St. Martin's Griffin

From the founder of The Chic Site, a lifestyle website, and the author of Upscale Downhome, fun, fresh, and fast recipes for family dinners.

Real life isn't a series of stylized air-brushed photos. It's crazy, chaotic, beautiful, and funny, and it can knock you right off balance. But cooking and eating as a family has always been at real life's core. Making sure your family is fed makes a day a success, and truly taking the time to give them something wholesome and delicious is the ultimate pleasure.

Basedon meals Hollis makes for her hungry husband, three sons, and baby daughter, Real Life Dinners bursts with over 80 photos and recipes including:

Breakfast Quesadillas
Toast Nine Ways
Freeze-Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches
Taco Tuesday
Crispy Sweet Potato Bake
Lemon-Pesto Chicken
Slow Cooker Loaded Potato Soup
Rach's Spice Blends

Rachel Hollis' Real Life Dinners is a cookbook that fits into your real daily life.

5 Stars

I don't have children, but I do have a boyfriend who can eat more than I can imagine and a job that keeps me out of the house well over 10 hours a day. In short, SIMPLE and FAST is what we are always looking for in food. We also want to be healthy and finding things that are healthy and take a short amount of time to make is difficult. Real Life Dinners: Fun, Fresh, Fast Dinners from the Creator of the Chic Site was exactly what we needed. It's filled with recipes that you can easily make from most ingredients you already have at home or give new life to a tried-and-true meal you eat all the time. Plus, it comes with Rachel's special way of sharing her life. There's dinner table manners, great stories about what the food brings to mind for her, and simple recipes that don't require you go buy something you've never heard of.

No, it's not a cookbook that'll meet every person's diet, but it is great for ideas for a quick meal. I'm Gluten Free and Lactose Intolerant and I actually think every recipe can be prepared to suit my needs, which is pretty rare when it comes to cookbooks and meeting the described taste. We loved the meatloaf meatballs, those are going to be a staple for us, and just last night I had the Grilled Zucchini Spears, adding spaghetti sauce to mine while my partner ate his with noodles. I can absolutely see needing to cook for a family of four and wanting something easy, especially after a long day, so this book will be something we grab for a long time.

Cooking the Grilled Zucchini Spears was so easy I couldn't believe it. I never use our grill, but we had so much cooking that I decided this was the perfect thing to practice with. Prepping these took no time at all, I had everything in the recipe laying around my house and they really did cook in just 10 minutes. Plus, while I was cooking a deer just trotted by and it was so cool. *Photo on Instagram if you'd like to see!* I shared them on my Instagram and Snapchat and had so many comments saying they looked delicious. I would've never thought to cook zucchini this way, but I will be doing it for every spaghetti night going forward.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Review: Bombshell - C.D. Reiss

Bombshell (Hollywood A-List #1)
by C.D. Reiss
Published: May 1st 2017
Genre: Contemporary, Romance

From New York Times bestselling author CD Reiss, a standalone romance about a nanny, a Hollywood star, and a love they never expected.

Hollywood bad boy Brad Sinclair always gets his way, whether it’s the role he wants or the bikini-clad model he has to have. But when a bombshell gets dropped in his lap in the form of a dimpled five-year-old from a forgotten relationship, he knows his life is about to change forever.

Cara DuMont isn’t exactly thrilled when she gets assigned to be the nanny for the latest box-office king. She has one rule: no celebrity fathers, especially single ones with devilish good looks and rock-hard abs.

But as soon as Cara meets Brad and his adorable little girl, she knows she’s in for a world of trouble. Because there’s something about the way Brad looks at her that makes her believe that some rules are meant to be broken…

4 Stars

Told from alternating perspectives, Bombshell follows Cara DuMont as she bravely takes on a new client, Brad Sinclair. He's new to the role of being a father, having just discovered he has a daughter and that he is to take her with full custody. He doesn't grasp the changes he must make and that's where Cara comes in, the nanny that makes little Nicole's world normal. Only, Cara promised herself she'd never work for a famous person again, especially for a handsome single dad she can't stop fantasizing about. The nanny role comes with a timeline, with Cara and her best friend stepping in only short term while a new nanny is found, but she grows attached to Nicole and ultimately to her father, who finds himself wanting a life that he had never imagined before.

"I was young and cute, and you don't bring a time bomb into your home"

I have had Bodyguard by C.D. Reiss on my Kindle for ages and when I started reading it I realized it was number two in a standalone series, HOW COULD I HAVE MISSED THAT? So, off I went to Amazon where I proceeded to buy Bombshell and dive right in. Seriously, by dive I mean I started immediately and read non-stop until I finished it. I loved Cara DuMont and Brad Sinclair and I especially loved little miss "bombshell" herself, Nicole. C.D. Reiss takes a cliche connection, that of a nanny and a daddy, and turns it into a brilliant, smart story.

"This job was the worst I ever had. I really should quit. But I couldn't".

Cara is a sassy, educated woman with a really great head on her shoulders. Being a nanny is not all rainbows and butterflies, you're a stand-in for a parent and have to be able to do it all, which C.D. Reiss really shows in this novel. Cara doesn't do drama, at least she doesn't gravitate towards the spotlight, she's relatable, and despite knowing what's to come with her and Brad we don't predict the type of chemistry they would share. Brad is a Southern boy, though his manners seem to be buried under money, women, and booze. He's the lead in several huge movies, booked through the year, and not equipped to be a father at all. Of course, he somehow manages to still win us all over, whether it is with sharing his secrets or discovering that he is natural at being a father. The two have a push and pull type of relationship, but continue to be drawn together due to Brad's sweet little girl. Nicole really is the best secondary character I've ever read, even for being a child. The interactions they all have are so excellent and C.D. Reiss shows off her dialogue writing skills, for sure.

"This guy could ruin me. He had all the tools to do it. He was gorgeous and laid-back. He listened when I spoke and had a daughter who was just about perfect."

Unlike other nanny/daddy type novels, the drama is fairly low. There is a consistent issue throughout the entire novel that is worked through slowly rather than issue after issue popping up. We learn a lot about the characters individually and as they come together it is the perfect amount of sweet and scandalous. Bombshell had so many unique moments, some really great character growth, and I think shines as a contemporary romance, highlighting a lot of the strides we've made in how we treat children and women today. The focus on Hollywood A-listers and the difference between many of them as parents was also really great to read, because we all know the gossip rags want to sell you a different story than reality.

"You protect your heart as if your life depended on it. And you fail, but you try."

Bombshell was a fantastic read for me and I absolutely recommend it. I think it's a unique release from C.D. Riess and a great addition to the genre. When placed among novels with similar storylines, this one will absolutely shine the brightest.

Release Blitz & Excerpt: Above All - Rebecca Brooks

by Rebecca Brooks 
Publication Date: July 20, 2018 
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Standalone

Reeling from a sudden breakup, Casey Webb leaves Brooklyn, drives north, and settles in a sleepy mountain town in upstate New York. She’s convinced she’s happy being alone—until she reads the acknowledgments in her ex-boyfriend’s hit debut novel, thanking his new girlfriend “above all.”
Good thing Ben Mailer is in town. The hot, young Brooklyn-bound chef offers the perfect distraction. Soon the backwoods are heating up… But as their fling turns into more, the demands of Ben’s family and budding career make moving to her idyllic town impossible.
Now Casey must decide what she can’t live without—her life in the mountains, or the man she wants to be hers above all.


EXCERPT- ABOVE ALL by Rebecca Brooks

“You’re a little scary,” he whispered, turning to look into her eyes.
 Casey knew he was trying to be serious, but she had to laugh. “Me? You’d pretty much only seen me in sweatpants and knew I had nothing but eggs and beer in the fridge. If I’m scary, it’s because I’m the loser monster that follows young kids around, providing ample fodder for their parents to issue warnings about what will happen if they don’t do their homework and wind up with too many cats.”
Ben smirked and shook his head. “Something tells me you always did your homework. And last time I checked, you don’t have any cats.”
“Only because I’m not responsible enough to take care of them. I can’t even keep a house plant alive.”
“Overrated skills,” he said. “And you should try a jade plant. You can neglect them to your heart’s content and they’ll live.”
"Tried it,” she countered. “I was expertly negligent and still it died.”
He pressed his lips together, trying not to laugh. “You are a special one.”
“See?” she said. “Not scary.”
“Only scary to a houseplant.”
“Which you are not.”
“But I’m serious.” Ben brought the conversation back around. “You are. You’re beautiful, smart, thoughtful, observant, kind, and an incredible artist—I mean really—and you withstand subzero temperatures—”
“The water’s not that cold,” she objected, but he shook his head.
“Don’t interrupt me when I’m complimenting you. It’s intimidating to be around someone who’s basically the whole package. And intimidating because, how do I even get her attention when she has no reason to glance my way? And then, oh my god, what do I do if she actually does?” He shook his head.
“You’re crazy,” Casey murmured, not sure what to make of this boy who clearly hadn’t been around enough women to know that Casey was anything but special, and far from scary.
“I guess I’ve never known anyone who felt this real,” he whispered so quietly, it was almost as if he hasn’t spoken.
There was a long pause. Casey had no idea how to respond. There was no way to explain how deeply she had longed for him to come back, and your dimples make my heart beat like a bongo set didn’t exactly have the right ring. It was crazy, when she thought about how little they actually knew each other.
But it was even crazier to pretend that after what they’d just shared, they could return to their lives pretending that nothing had changed.
“I think I really like you,” Ben finally said. Quietly, in that embarrassed tone he got that made her want to kiss him all over. But instead she laughed. 
“You think?” She raised an eyebrow.
“I know,” he whispered in her ear, his breath shooting arrows down her spine. “I’ve had way too long to think about it, and I know.”
Rebecca Brooks lives in New York City in an apartment filled with books. She received a PhD in English but decided it was more fun to write books than write about them. She has backpacked alone through India and Brazil, traveled by cargo boat down the Amazon River, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, explored ice caves in Peru, trekked to the source of the Ganges, and sunbathed in Burma, but she always likes coming home to a cold beer and her hot husband in the Bronx. Her books are about independent women who leave their old lives behind to try something new—and find the passion, excitement and purpose they didn’t know they’d been missing.


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Sneak Peek: The Naked Truth - Vi Keeland

The Naked Truth Excerpt Reveal Banner
“May I get you something to drink while you wait for the rest of your party?” the waiter asked.
I would normally wait to see what the client did and follow his lead on alcohol. But tonight was not the norm. 

I rubbed at my stiff neck. “I’ll take a vodka cranberry, please.” 

I hoped it would help calm my nerves and release some of the tension in my jaw before I gave myself a full-blown headache. Taking out my phone, I started to scroll through emails to distract myself while waiting for my drink and dinner companion.

My head whipped up at the sound of Gray’s voice behind me. “Sorry I’m late.”

My heart unexpectedly fluttered, and I fought against the feeling of excitement. “Are you really? Because I get the sense you don’t have any manners after the way you interrupted me a million times today.”

He completely ignored my attitude as he took the seat across from me. “Traffic is a bitch getting downtown at this time. Next time we’ll have dinner at my place.”

“There won’t be a next time.”

Gray’s mouth curved into a smug smile as he snagged my gaze. “Sure there will. There’ll be plenty of next times. And eventually you’ll stop pretending you don’t enjoy my company.”

I hated that my body reacted to him. Right from the very start, we’d had a crazy chemistry between us that was difficult to dull. 

I sighed. “What are you doing, Gray? Why did you come to my firm?”

He lifted the cloth napkin in front of him and laid it across his lap. “Isn’t that obvious? I need new legal representation.”

“At my firm? And you’d prefer that representation come from an associate instead of my boss’s boss—the head of our securities division? Or even from Pittman, who would gladly hold your hand and provide you whatever legal advice you need from his fifty-plus years of experience?”

“Loyalty is important to me. I want someone I can trust with my business.”

“And you’ve decided that’s me? An associate with five years experience who just got off probation with the Bar Association for violating attorney-client privilege?”
The waiter arrived with my drink. “Here you go, ma’am.” He turned to Gray. “May I get you something to drink? Or would you like to wait until the last of your party joins you this evening?”

“It’s just the two of us. I’ll have a Macallan, neat, please.”

“Coming right up.” The waiter walked around to the other side of the table and started to remove the third place setting. 

I put my hand out, stopping him. “We actually do have another party coming, so you can leave that.”

“Very well.” He nodded.

Gray waited until the waiter was out of earshot. “I didn’t invite anyone else to dinner.”

I sipped my drink and offered a saccharine-sweet fake smile. “I did. Figured an important client like you should have more than one attorney to answer his questions.” 

Just as I set down my glass, I saw the other man I was waiting for enter the restaurant. He scanned the room, looking for me, so I held up my hand and waved. 

“Perfect timing. There’s Oliver now.”

Gray glanced at the man heading toward us and back to me. Instead of being pissed off, the jerk was amused. “That’s cute. You invited a chaperone because you don’t trust yourself with me.”   

We hope you enjoyed this sneak peek of THE NAKED TRUTH.The Naked Truth Sneak Peek teaser

The Naked Truth by Vi Keeland

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Review: Baby Teeth - Zoje Stage

Baby Teeth
by Zoje Stage 
Published: July 17, 2018 by St Martin's Press
Genre: Fiction, Thriller

Sweetness can be deceptive. 

Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette's husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.

3.5 Stars

Hanna is seven and she is out to get her mother, at least that's what Suzette believes. Others see a quiet girl who plays best alone, but Suzette knows otherwise. Hanna wants mommy out of the picture and she'll do anything to get rid of her.

I came out of this pleasantly surprised, finding myself aching for Hanna and Suzette and the unaware Alex. Baby Teeth has been surrounded by controversial hype for months, labeled a creepy thriller you won't be able to put down. Alternating chapter viewpoints give us insight into little Hanna and her mother, Suzette's, daily life. I admit the psychological aspect is what drew me in, I really had no interest in a creepy seven year old, but ultimately I found myself enthralled by Hanna's perspective. She's incredibly smart, a gifted little girl, and mute. Suzette is a difficult character, almost unreliable as a narrator. She's focused on her image, missing a normalcy she's created in her head, and nearly obsessive compulsive about cleaning. I found myself both understanding her fear of Hanna, but also pitying her for her immature viewpoints. She's naive, selfish, and very hard to root for. The two, ultimately, are out to get each other.

What starts as creep, and had me fairly scared of finishing the novel, soon turns into more of a psychological drama. As readers we hurt for secondary character Alex, caught in the middle between a mother and a daughter who, quite frankly, don't seem to really like each other at all. It's a he-said she-said battle, one that ultimately made my heart ache. Suzette deals with a debilitating illness throughout the novel and I found that Hanna really just was a child gone undiagnosed, no creepiness to it. I don't think this should be considered a thriller, with no plot twist and no real fear built into it, but as a general read it is enjoyable.
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