Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.
by Emily Lloyd-Jones

hitting shelves August 8th, 2017
from Little, Brown BYR
When Dee Moreno makes a deal with a demon—her heart in exchange for an escape from a disastrous home life—she finds the trade may have been more than she bargained for. And becoming “heartless” is only the beginning. What lies ahead is a nightmare far bigger, far more monstrous than anything she could have ever imagined.

With reality turned on its head, Dee has only a group of other deal-making teens to keep her grounded, including the charming but secretive James Lancer. And as something grows between them amid an otherworldy ordeal, Dee begins to wonder: Can she give someone her heart when it’s no longer hers to give?

My thoughts:  While this description still leaves so many burning questions, it's got my curiously peaked!! Gorgeous cover, too---love the contrast of the dark grungy photo and the embroidered font. 

What book are you eagerly anticipating this week?

Sunday, November 27, 2016

New Shelf Goodies & The Weekly Nutshell {177}

For New Shelf Goodies, I'll be showing you what lovely books I acquired this week, whether from publishers, or the library, or from whatever half-crazed book-buying binge I happened to go on. :D (Inspired by Tynga's Stacking the Shelves) The Weekly Nutshell will be just that...my week here at Stories & Sweeties, in a nutshell. (inspired by Ginger @ GReads and her recaps at the end of the TGIF posts)

Some lovely mail this past week! One more thing to be grateful for! :D 
Bad Blood by Demitria Lunetta
Haunted dreams and boys with Scottish accents...that's all I need to know. 
Poison's Kiss by Breeana Shields
A fantastic sounding fantasy about a girl with the kiss of death.
The Dragon's Price by Bethany Wiggins
A dragon turns the tables on a rebellious princess. This sounds so fun!

Thank you so much, Random House, for these!! I'm super excited for all of them!!

I also received this fun box from Swoon Reads! I'll be taking this good advice and sharing that second copy of You Don't Know My Name soon!

Lastly, the  November Owlcrate box.  I actually got this last week, but I wanted to be sure everyone had received theirs before posting about it so I waited an extra week.  The special edition white cover is so stunning ♥♥♥, the tea is a delicious fruity herbal, and I love all the little extras!

The Weekly Nutshell
recent posts:
Review: Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
Waiting on Wednesday: The Rattled Bones by S.M. Parker

Everyone have a lovely Thanksgiving?? I hope so!! Mine was full of family and laughter and lots and lots of wonderful food. :P  Always a good thing.  Not much else new...I've barely picked up my current book, The Alchemists of Loom, with the holidays kicking off. All the baking and then the shopping (I don't set foot in the stores on black friday, online shopping is definitely my thing lol), and then the recuperating from all the eating haha. I'm hoping to get back into the swing of reading this week.  
I've been avoiding Twitter like the plague since Friday, trying to avoid Gilmore Girls spoilers from all of those who got to binge watch it the first day it released.  We're doing our first watch tomorrow, my daughter's day off---complete with chinese take-out, tacos, pop tarts, and mallomars in true Gilmore Girl form!  We've been looking forward to this for so long, but it will be sad to finished these four because then it's really over. For good. So sad, but I still can't wait to see these.

Hope everyone has a fantastic week ahead!



Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.
by S.M. Parker

hitting shelves August 22nd, 2017
from Simon Pulse
Unearthing years of buried secrets, Rilla Brae is haunted by ghostly visions tied to the tainted history of a mysterious island in this haunting novel from the author of The Girl Who Fell.

Maine-bred, independent Rilla Brae is no stranger to the deep. She knows the rhythms of hard work and harder seas. But when she experiences the sudden death of her father, the veil between the living and the dead blurs and she begins to be haunted by a girl on a nearby, uninhabited island. The girl floats a song over the waves, and it is as beautiful as it is terrifying. Familiar and distant.

Then Rilla meets Sam, a University of Southern Maine archeology student tasked with excavating the very island where the ghostly girl has appeared. Sam sifts the earth looking for the cultural remains of an island people who were forcibly evicted by the state nearly a hundred years ago. Sam tells Rilla the island has a history no locals talk about—if they know about it at all—due to the shame the events brought to the working waterfront community. All Rilla knows for sure is that the island has always been there—an eerie presence anchored in the stormy sea. Now Sam’s work and the ghostly girl’s song lure Rilla to the island’s shores.

As Rilla helps Sam to unearth the island’s many secrets, Rilla’s visions grow—until the two discover a tragedy kept silent for years. And it’s a tragedy that has everything to do with Rilla’s past.
 

My thoughts:  Ghostly girls from mysterious islands and shadowy tragic pasts to be uncovered...YES this does sounds amazing. 

What book are you eagerly anticipating this week?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst {review}

Of Fire and Stars
by Audrey Coulthurst
♦publisher: Balzer & Bray
♦release date: November 22, 2016
♦hardcover, 400 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦stand-alone
♦source: from publisher for honest review
Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.

Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine (called Mare), sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, each discovers there’s more to the other than she thought. Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. Soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.
But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.

Review: After starting out loving this one, by the end I came away with some pretty mixed feelings.

Both Denna and Mare were characters I really enjoyed. Denna is this sheltered out-of-place princess with a life-threatening secret and a desire to prove her worth in her new kingdom. Mare is such a wild child without a shred of care for what people think of her or expect of her, and a completely justified chip on her shoulder from years of being treated like her word was worth less than her younger brother's. From the time they meet, you see them go from spite to tolerating eachother, to trust and friendship, to desire, and finally realizing they've fallen in love. I liked that Mare showed so much doubt in Denna's feelings for her even after they'd been together, as a result of being surrounded by people who didn't show any confidence or belief in her. It made complete sense and I felt for her, even while being frustrated with her! I liked that Mare's confidence sparked bravery in Denna and slowly pulls her out of her sheltered box. Denna has it so ingrained in her that duty comes first that she makes some pretty selfish decisions, but she makes it back to the right ones in the end.  I also really loved that the LGBT aspect of this story was not written as an "issue". No one was shocked, it wasn't something they were hiding (well, not because of that, anyway). They, and many others in the story loved who they loved and it was the most natural thing in the world. As it should be--but this is one of the few stories that I've seen treat it that way and I loved that.

But romance aside, the rest of the storyline was very political and I found that part to be a bit boring. A lot of meetings of the directorates and talk of joining kingdoms and who is planning to attack who. For me, this dragged and I found myself putting the book down a lot during these parts.  The magical side of the story was interersting but not really fleshed out enough and same went for the different kingdoms and elemental gods they worshiped. I definitely wanted to know more about Zumordia, too!

One thing that I really didn't like about this one stood out quite a bit to me. Yes, the story of Denna and Mare was enchanting and sweet and a beautiful story of love between two young women.  But as a very stark contrast, almost every male in the story was a complete jerk. There is one, Mare's best friend, Nils, who was funny and charming and such a great friend to her, but even he was a bit of a womanizer. The king and the prince were just condescending and dismissive and bordering on cruel. It seemed like the one good and kind man in the story dies in the first few chapters.

The story picks up pace near the end, but also gets a bit rushed. There were some plot leads that fall off and get swept aside for an easy and obvious sort of ending and there's a bit of villanous monologuing. It was still pretty exciting and definitely an HEA. Not a read I regret, but definitely not one I loved as much as I'd hoped I would.


•ABOUT THE AUTHOR•

Audrey Coulthurst writes YA books that tend to involve magic, horses, and kissing the wrong people. Her debut novel, Of Fire and Stars, will be published on November 22, 2016 by Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins. When she’s not dreaming up new stories, she can usually be found painting, singing, or on the back of a horse.

Audrey has a Master’s in Writing from Portland State University, is a member of SCBWI, and studied with Malinda Lo as a 2013 Lambda Literary Foundation Fellow. She lives in Santa Monica, California.

WEBSITE   •   TWITTER   •   INSTAGRAM

Purchase the book:   Indiebound   •   BookDepository   •   Amazon

Sunday, November 20, 2016

New Shelf Goodies & The Weekly Nutshell {176}

For New Shelf Goodies, I'll be showing you what lovely books I acquired this week, whether from publishers, or the library, or from whatever half-crazed book-buying binge I happened to go on. :D (Inspired by Tynga's Stacking the Shelves) The Weekly Nutshell will be just that...my week here at Stories & Sweeties, in a nutshell. (inspired by Ginger @ GReads and her recaps at the end of the TGIF posts)


Here's the new stuff that popped into my mailbox this week :)
Timekeeper by Tara Sim
Gorgeous finished copy. ♥ :)
Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts
This one looks fun. Cast-aside royals on an adventure to save the kingdom!
Geekerella by Ashley Poston
Cons & Geekiness & Romance---sounds like such a fun mix!!
The Star Thief by Lindsey Becker
Magic, winged girls, and a steamship in the stars. Definitely for me. 

Many lovely thanks to the publishers, book traders, and friends who gave me a happy mailbox this week! :*

The Weekly Nutshell
recent posts:
Waiting on Wednesday: The Evolution of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber
Giveaway: Seriously Shifted by Tina Connelly

Kind of slow week all around. Today was a lovely rainy day and it was so nice to just have a cup of tea and read! Still, I feel like I'm taking forever to read each book. I'm just about finished with Of Fire and Stars, so hopefully I'll have a review to share with you this week. I'm still trying to catch up on reviews of a few books that I read while I was on my health hiatus..eek. I'll get there! Though maybe not this week lol, with Thanksgiving baking to do. :)  Whose excited for this week? Fooooood. And being thankful, of course, for my family, for my relative health, for my friends, and books, and chocolate. And for Fooooood. Okay, what's you're favorite Thanksgiving food? Mine's the stuffing. And the pie.  LOL, now I'm hungry. 

I hope everyone has a fantastic week, and to my US friends, have a wonderful and safe holiday. I'm thankful for all my blog friends everywhere!! ♥♥♥


Friday, November 18, 2016

Seriously Shifted by Tina Connelly {Giveaway!}

Have you all tried out this seriously cute series yet?? The cover alone just puts a smile on my face (I'm a sucker for cute tights lol) and if you haven't check out my review of the first book in the series, you can find it here . I haven't had a chance to read this follow-up, Seriously Shifted, but if it brings more of the light and rompy fun of the first book, I'm all in!  Check out more about the book below, and then enter to win a copy, thanks to the lovely people at Tor Teen!!

Seriously Shifted by Tina Connelly
A sparkling new adventure about teen witch Camellia and her mother, wicked witch Sarmine, introduced to readers in Seriously Wicked.  

Teenage witch Cam isn’t crazy about the idea of learning magic. She’d rather be no witch than a bad one. But when a trio of her mother’s wicked witch friends decide to wreak havoc in her high school, Cam has no choice but to try to stop them.

Now Cam’s learning invisibility spells, dodging exploding cars, and pondering the ethics of love potions. All while trying to keep her grades up and go on a first date with her crush. If the witches don’t get him first, that is.

Can’t a good witch ever catch a break?

Published November 1st, 201g from Tor Teen

        Indiebound   •   BookDepository  •   Amazon


•ABOUT THE AUTHOR •

Tina Connolly is the author of the Ironskin trilogy from Tor Books, and the Seriously Wicked series, from Tor Teen. Her books have been finalists for the Nebula and the Norton. Her stories have appeared in Women Destroy SF, Lightspeed, Tor.com, Strange Horizons, Analog, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and many more, and are collected in On the Eyeball Floor and Other Stories from Fairwood Press. She is one of the co-hosts of Escape Pod and runs the Parsec-winning flash fiction podcast Toasted Cake. She likes re-reading books and eating pie for breakfast (preferably at the same time.)



    *        *        *         *         *
GIVEAWAY!!
Enter below to win a finished copy of Seriously Shifted!
•US mailing address only please.
•Ends 11/28/16

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

hitting shelves June6th, 2017
from Thomas Nelson
For fans of Ender’s Game and Blade Runner comes a story of video gaming, blood, and power.

Ever since the Delonese ice-planet arrived eleven years ago, Sofi’s dreams have been vivid. Alien. In a system where Earth’s corporations rule in place of governments and the humanoid race orbiting the moon are allies, her only constant has been her younger brother, Shilo. As an online gamer, Sofi battles behind the scenes of Earth’s Fantasy Fighting arena where Shilo is forced to compete in a mix of real and virtual blood sport. But when a bomb takes out a quarter of the arena, Sofi’s the only one who believes Shilo survived. She has dreams of him. And she’s convinced he’s been taken to the ice-planet.

Except no one but ambassadors are allowed there.

For Miguel—Earth’s charming young playboy—the games are of a different sort. As Ambassador to the Delonese, his career has been built on trading secrets and seduction. Until the Fantasy Fight’s bomb goes off. Now the tables have turned and he’s a target for blackmail. The game is simple: Help the blackmailers, or lose more than anyone can fathom, or Earth can afford.

From the award-winning author of the Storm Siren Trilogy, step into a diverse cast of characters spanning from the electric metropolises of earth to the chilling alien planet above, in a story of re-finding yourself in the midst of losing the one thing you love. Before it all evaporates.

My thoughts:  Mary Weber has a new series coming!! And this sounds like some fabulous sci-fi goodness. Diverse cast, ice alien planet, a close brother-sister story, prophetic dreams...would have read it just because I love this author's writing, but all of these things are just icing on the cake.   This will be a must-read for me. 

What book are you eagerly anticipating this week?

Sunday, November 13, 2016

New Shelf Goodies & The Weekly Nutshell {175}

For New Shelf Goodies, I'll be showing you what lovely books I acquired this week, whether from publishers, or the library, or from whatever half-crazed book-buying binge I happened to go on. :D (Inspired by Tynga's Stacking the Shelves) The Weekly Nutshell will be just that...my week here at Stories & Sweeties, in a nutshell. (inspired by Ginger @ GReads and her recaps at the end of the TGIF posts)

This is actually my bookish mail from the last three weeks. It's been that long since I did a new shelf goodies post! This was bookmail but also a couple of favorites that I was lucky enough to grab at a recent trade show a few weeks ago.  Here's the lot:
For review:
Oh book, you had me at steampunk pirates. ;)
After the cliffy ending to Passenger, I can't wait to see what happens next!
When Anna's anti-gift is suddenly what everyone wants---this sounds fantastic!!
It's been ages since I've read this author, but I can't wait to read this!
How cute does this look? Sounds like Nancy Drew meets DaVinci Code! 
The first book was super cute. Hope I enjoy this one, too!
Eeee, A.G.Howard writing a Phantom retelling?? YES.
I've heard great things about this series---I hope to get it started soon!
This sounds so magical. O_O
This says perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer---hey, that's me! ;)
I have this in my hands. This is not a drill. *kermit-style flailing*

Big huge thanks to Penguin, Swoon Reads, Disney Books, Tor Teen, Abrams & A.G. Howard, Little Brown, & Random House for these!


The Weekly Nutshell:
recent posts:
Well, I won't link you up to all the posts I've done since my last haul post...lol, that's just too much for this late at night xD. But please be sure to visit my Heartless Book Birthday posts if you haven't already! There's a makeup look, a recipe, my review & a giveaway! Don't miss it!  You'll notice Heartless was not in my haul this week, after all my gushing over it this week you'd think it would be. But no. I'm patiently awaiting my Owlcrate box this month---it's Alice in Wonderland themed and I'm highly suspecting that Heartless will be the book! I don't believe they are sold out yet, so if you're interesting in snagging one, please use my link!  
This week I'm reading Of Fire and Stars, and I'm loving it so far. I've stalled a bit on Unnatural Deeds. It's just not catching me, so I've set it aside to read OF&S, but may pick it back up when I'm done.  For once, I'm not sure what's next, but I'm also thinking that the lure of Traitor to the Throne may be just too much to resist LOL. We'll see. 

Hope you are all finding lovely things to read this week! 


Friday, November 11, 2016

HEARTLESS BOOK BIRTHDAY WEEK: My Review, Cover Showcase & Giveaway!!

This is it, my final post for HEARTLESS BOOK BIRTHDAY WEEK! :D I hope you've enjoyed the posts so far!  Today I'm sharing my thoughts on the book, showcasing the amazing different covers of Heartless and giving away a copy to someone, anywhere in the world! :D So let's get to it!


by Marissa Meyer
♦publisher: Feiwel & Friends
♦release date: November 8th, 2016
♦hardcover, 464 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦stand-alone
♦source: trade show
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

Review:  This book...will tear your ever-loving heart out. But you knew that. You know who the Queen of Hearts is. She's cruel. She's mad. She's...well, she's heartless. This is the story of how she got that way, so you know going in that it's not going to be pretty. But OH was it magical, whimsical, kooky, twisted, very creepy at times---much like Alice in Wonderland. In fact, I adored the wonderful nods to the original stories and characters. It was like seeing new sides to characters I've known my whole life. I'm sure I've said a dozen or so times on this blog, but I was very literally raised on Alice in Wonderland. :) My mother collects all things Alice, read me the stories, and I grew up watching several different movie and tv show versions. So having one of my favorite authors take on this story and give me a whole new perspective on a character I've always known just to be unwaveringly villainous was absolutely amazing. And while I loved this so much and I guarantee that my personal connection to the original stories made this a whole different experience than, say, someone who doesn't love Alice in Wonderland, I still proclaim that the storytelling was fantastic, full of whimsy, romance, madness, hope, and heartbreak. 

I loved Cath's character. She was so determined and hopeful to see her dream come true and so willing to work hard for it, despite having to go against her parent's expectations, and everyone's really. She sees them slipping farther and farther away as the realization hits that the king truly has plans to court her and everyone pressures her to accept. The romance was just right---not a case of her throwing everything away for a guy, but more figuring out how he might fit into the dream she's already striving for.  It breaks my heart as the story goes along and the people she hopes most might believe her and back her up let her down. Especially her father---their last conversation before the end had me absolutely sobbing. 

Meyer successfully pulls in so many of the original characters from Wonderland and gives them a place in this Queen of Hearts origin story. I loved how it gave the whole story a feeling of familiarity and you see how each one might have scattered across Wonderland after she became queen to later become part of Alice's story. There are some genuinely creepy moments, especially with the Treacle sisters and their horrific prophecies. The story twists and turns and twists again and I thought the chaotic downward spiral and the iconic last line were absolutely perfect---as well as completely devastating.  Beautifully done. 

While I know this stands boldly on it's own, I would love to get another origin story about Jest and Hatta in the land of Chess. Just sayin' ;)


~ABOUT THE AUTHOR~

Marissa Meyer is the New York Times-bestselling author of The Lunar Chronicles. She lives in Tacoma, Washington. She’s a fan of most things geeky (Sailor Moon, Firefly, any occasion that requires a costume), and has been in love with fairy tales since she was a child. She may or may not be a cyborg. 



WEBSITE   •   TWITTER  •   PINTEREST
Purchase Winter:  Indiebound  •  BookDepository  •  Amazon

*International Cover Showcase*
GUYS, check out all the gorgeous covers for Heartless!!

US Hardcover                               Dutch Paperback

                  UK Paperback                            UK Paperback (Feb 2017)


Can you pick a favorite? I love them all, and while I adore our US hardcover, I think my favorite is the upcoming UK paperback! Not sure why they are reissuing it recovered in February 2017, but I love it and I  know I'll be preordering it!!

So here's YOUR chance to nab one!! Enter below to win a copy of Heartless. Winner can choose any cover they want*! :D
•Open internationally
•Ends 11/25/16

a Rafflecopter giveaway *chosen edition must be available through either BookDepository.com or Fishpond.com. Please note that the illustrated UK paperback does not release until 2/2017 so prize will be for a pre-order. Winner will be contacted if chosen edition is not available through either site within 3 months of winning.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

HEARTLESS BOOK BIRTHDAY WEEK: Cath's Rose Macarons

In Marissa Meyer's Heartless, young Cath dreams of someday opening a bakery and becoming famous throughout the land, not for being the Marquess' daughter but for her delicious sweet creations. By her mother's order, she bakes a decadent batch of Rose Macarons to give to the King, but she ends up bringing them instead to the wild tea party where she first meets the hatter.
Today I want to share a small excerpt from that scene---it not only gives you a good idea of the recipe that follows below, but encompasses everything I love about baking. ♥

"The macaron was sweet and decadent and smooth, with just a tiny crunch from the meringue, and a subtle floral moment from the distilled rose water, all melting together into one perfect bite. 

She listened to the gasps, the moans, the crinkle of parchment paper as someone scooped up the buttercream that had gotten missed.

This was why she enjoyed baking. A good dessert could make her feel like she'd created joy at the tips of her fingers. Suddenly, the people around the table were no longer strangers. They were friends and confidantes, and she was sharing with them her magic."
---page 168 from the Heartless ARC edition 

After reading that,  I knew I had to make these. Plus it's been so long since I've made anything with rosewater :). I did add in my own little touch and filled them also with raspberry preserves--because rose and raspberry compliment each other so perfectly. :)  So here they are:

Cath's Rose Macarons


So this recipe is a little different from the one I featured a few weeks ago with Glitter. This is actually the Italian method for making macarons, as opposed to the French. I love this one so much better, to be honest. They are a little more complicated to make, but much more stable---plus the resulting texture is perfectly crisp on the outside, a little flatter but definitely much more gooey and rich.  YUM.   A kitchen scale comes in hand if you want to measure everything out in grams (I've include the cup measurements as well), but you will need a candy thermometer. 

For the Macaron shells:
original recipe from Bouchon 
1¾ cups + 2½ tablespoons (212 grams) almond flour
1¾ cups + 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons (212 grams) powdered sugar
3 (82 grams) egg whites
3 (90 grams) egg whites
1 cup + 3 tablespoons (236 grams) granulated sugar, plus a pinch for the egg whites
⅔ cup (158 grams) water

Preheat over to 350

Into a large bowl, sift the almond flour and powdered sugar, making sure to leave out any larger chunks of almond. Make a small well in the dry ingredients and add the 3 egg whites. Mix these together until it forms a thick almond paste. Set aside. 

In a small saucepan with a candy thermometer clipped to the side, combine the granulated sugar and water. Bring slowly to boil over medium heat, slowly increasing if needed. Meanwhile, place your next three egg whites in a stand mixer. Beat until soft peaks form. Add in a pinch of sugar.  When the sugar/water syrup reaches 248 degrees, immediately remove from heat.  With the mixer running, pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl of egg whites. Beat on high until stiff peaks form.  

Gently fold egg whites into almond mixture. Mix this just until it reaches a lava-like consistency. Do not overmix!! To test, spoon out a small amount onto a plate. If the ridges disappear in about 30 seconds, its ready. 

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. You can mark the underside of the paper with circles to get the cookies as uniform as possible. Since they are shell cookies, they have to all be similar in size. Pipe circles of batter onto parchment, about an inch apart. These cookies will spread a little when cooking! Rap the pan firmly on your countertop to release as many air bubbles as possible. 

Into the oven they go (no need to let them sit out with this method! Yay!). Turn the heat down to 325 and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let them cool on the pan for 5-10 mintues. Between each batch, let the oven reheat to 350, turning it back down to 325as each batch goes in. 

When cooled, pair up the shells two by two on a parchment sheet to prepare them to be filled. 

Rose Buttercream:
•1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick) at room temp
•3-4 tablespoons milk
•1 tsp vanilla
•3 cups confectioners sugar
•1 tsp rosewater
In a medium bowl, mix butter, milk, and vanilla until smooth.  Add in confectioners sugar a cup at a time until creamy. Mix in rosewater 1/2 tsp at a time, testing for your taste preference after each. 

Spoon buttercream and raspberry preserves (I use Smuckers) into separate pastry bags fitted with round 1/2 tips. Pipe buttercream around the edge of each macaron half shell, then fill in with the raspberry preserves. Place the second half of each macaron on top and gently press down (very gently! You don't want to crack the pretty smooth shell!)

To decorate these with hearts, I just made a heart template cut out of a clean sheet of cardstock. I took a little sugar water and brushed inside each heart to give the sprinkles something to stick to, then shook the red sprinkles on. All done! 

I hope you enjoy these! 

Until next time...





Wednesday, November 9, 2016

HEARTLESS BOOK BIRTHDAY WEEK: Makeup for the Tea Party!!

GUYS! This week (yesterday, to be exact) a book was released into the world that I know many of us out there have been counting down the days to!! A big fat
Happy Book Birthday to
HEARTLESS!!


Today, I'm featuring something cool that my daughter did, inspired by her love of the book. A little backstory---as with many of the books that come to me for review, my dear daughter steals away with them and reads them first. :) And as a proud mama of an avid reader, I absolutely love and encourage this LOL. After she read Heartless and fell completely in love (and heartbreak!) with this book. I heard nothing all day long but:
 "Mom, have you read Heartless yet?"
"Mom, you need to stop what you'r reading and read Heartless."
"MOM...Heartless!!"
And once I did start it, I was constantly stalked by her watching my reactions, asking what part I was at, and dying to talk about parts that she loved. :D 

My daughter has her sights set on becoming a makeup artist so she's been playing with different fun makeup looks.  She was inspired to do an ode to Cath and Jest in her favorite art form:

Cards and hearts for the future Queen of Hearts on one side, a  motley hat and stripe on the other for the man who steels her heart.  What do you think?  ♥♥


Please stop back in all this week as we celebrate the Heartless Book Birthday! There'll be a recipe tomorrow (because if you've read the book, you know food played a big part in this story!), my review and a giveaway on Friday!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Waiting on...

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.
by Jodi McAlister

hitting shelves January 30th, 2017
from Penguin Teen Australia
Four teenagers – all born on the same Valentine’s Day – begin to disappear. As the bodies mount up, Pearl Linford has to work out what in the supernatural hell is going on, before it happens to her. 

Finn Blacklin is the boy with whom Pearl shares a birthday, the boy she has known all her life and disliked every second of it, the boy her subconscious has a totally annoying crush on. Finn is also the Valentine: a Seelie fairy changeling swapped for a human boy at birth. The Unseelie have come to kill the Valentine – except they don’t know who it is. And now both the Seelie and the Unseelie think Pearl is the Valentine, and if they find out she isn’t, she’ll disappear too. 

Pearl must use all her wits to protect herself. Finn must come to terms with his newfound heritage. And then there’s the explosive chemistry between them that neither of them know quite what to do about . . .

My thoughts:  Okay so it looks like no US release for this one, but thank goodness for BookDepository! :D This one sounds fun and of course, anytime you get mixed up with the fairy courts, things are bound to get a little bit creepy! Fairies and changelings and murders and crushes. High hopes for this one!

What book are you eagerly anticipating this week?