Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Giveaway and Book Tour of Wings of Light by Laura Bingham

I'm so excited to be on the blog tour for the release of Wings of Light, the sequel to Alvor by Laura Bingham. 

Click here to read what I think of this fantastic adventure. And don't forget to try out the scrumptious recipe for Raised by Magic Quick Rolls.

To celebrate the release of Wings of Light, I'm giving away a copy of Brandon Mull's newest book, A World Without Heroes (The Beyonders #1).  Contest will end April 8, 2011.

Each of the following will earn you an entry.  Comment below and tell me what you did.

Follow me (you know you want to)
Follow Laura and comment on one of her posts.
Tweet about the giveaway
(don't forget to leave me a comment)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wings of Light by Laura Bingham

Wings of Light, the sequel to Alvor by Laura Bingham, continues the story of twins Erin and Bain as they discover their roles as immortal alva in a land they never imagined could exist. I enjoyed Alvor and I liked Wings of Light even more.  This fantastic story is aimed at middle grade, but will delight anyone who is a fan of such books as the Fablehaven series.

Food to eat while reading: Raised by Magic Quick Rolls

Read the synopsis here.
Read my interview with Laura Bingham here.

Bingham has a great imagination.  I never know where she will take me--the inside of a shark, flying with dragons, cooking s'mores on a Moroccan beach, or ordering take out from another continent.

The adventure and magic that I loved in Alvor is intensified as Erin and Bain learn what is required of them and search for their missing mother.  The scope of the book enlarged, the twins are now involved in the alva kingdom and what their roles will be.

Fun new characters are introduced, including Aunt Lyndera who packs everything when she travels, including the bathtub.  Old friends are back, Pulsar the dragon (awesome), Joel (who has a secret), and evil Carbonell (who's aura is lightening from darkest black).

I'm not sure that everything is as it seems.  Carbonell appears to be helpful, giving aid to the twins in the search for their mother. And Joel appears aloof and distant, sometimes putting his own interests above Erin's.  I became suspicious of Joel and found myself cringing when he took Erin's hand.  Because Joel is the (mild) love interest in the book, I can't decide if Bingham meant to distance me as a reader from Joel.  I have to say that it does make me excited to read book number three. 

I still love Erin's ability to see aura's and tell if someone is lying or truthful.  It lends a deeper layer to the book and gives me pause to ponder about the real life "aura's" we project when we are truthful. 

I absolutely loved the interactions with the twin's family.  It felt homey and heart-warming.

Wings of Light is the middle novel of a series so I expected there to be a crisis that would leave me hanging to hook me into the last book.  Refreshingly, things were tied up in a way that felt satisfying.  There are still plenty of unanswered questions that leave me waiting for the final book in the series. 

Genre: fantasy, MG
Published: Expected publication: April 8th 2011 by Cedar Fort, Incorporated/C F I Distribution, Paperback, 240 pages

Where I got the book:  e-book from the publisher*

*I received no other compensation for this review. All opinions are truthful and my own.

Tasty Tuesday-Raised by Magic Quick Rolls

Everyone loves the smell and taste of fresh bread baking.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could magically make the dough rise instantly, just like Erin and Bain's mother, Julia, does in Wings of Light by Laura Bingham?  This recipe is one of my favorites.  It is simple to make, only requiring a ten minute rise before forming into whatever bread you desire: rolls, loaves, breadbowls, breadsticks, pretzels, bagels etc.  Wait another 30 minutes and then cook them from a cold oven.  It's almost magic.

Raised by Magic Quick Rolls

2 1/2 cups warm water
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons yeast
1 Tablespoon salt
5 Tablespoons shortening
6 cups flour

Mix water and sugar.  Sprinkle with yeast and wait for it to rise.  Add salt and shortening and three cups of the flour. Mix well.  Add three more cups of flour.  Mix again.  Let rest for ten minutes.  Knead.  Roll out and use a clean glass to cut out circles. Using the blunt side of a butter knife, depress a line across the circle of the roll and fold in half, stacking the rolls in a 9x13 inch pan.  Let rise for 30 minutes.  Put in a cold oven and set the temperature at 400'.  Take out after 25-30 minutes.  

Monday, March 28, 2011

The first Book Blogger's Cookbook-do you want to be a part of it?

This is a shout out to all of you wonderful book bloggers.
I am working on a project that I hope you will be excited about.

This April marks my one year blogoversary! To celebrate I am publishing a YA book blogger’s cookbook featuring the books I have read throughout the year with companion recipes. The book combines a love of reading and cooking and promotes book reviewers too.

Each book and its recipe will have positive quotes from bloggers who have read the book, along with an interactive link that will direct the reader to the bloggers review site.

If you are interested in being featured in the book, please glance over the list of books (below).

Did you read or write reviews for any of the books? If so, please contact me at christy (at) with your name, the name of your review site, and 1-3 sentence positive blurb(s) about the book(s).
Example: “The Revenant is a haunting ghost story with historical fiction and a good dose of hopeless romance thrown in. Twists and turns kept me reading until 1 am.”

I reserve the right to include/exclude reviews submitted at my own discretion. I will let you know if your quote(s) and website are selected.

I am excited to collaborate with everyone on this fun project. Please spread the word. 

Wings or Spells by Aprilynne Pike

Shiver or Linger by Maggie Steifvater

Before I Fall or by Lauren Oliver

Impossible by Nancy Werlin

Fable haven series (any) Brandon Mull

The Dark Divine or The Lost Saint by Bree Despain

The Second Short Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer

Prophecy of the Sisters or Guardian of the Gate by Michelle Zink

Mockingjay by Suzzanne Collins

Maze Runner or Scorch Trials by James Dashner

The Clockwork Three by Matthew Kirby

The Hourglass Door or Golden Spiral by Lisa Mangum

Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

The Revenant by Sonia Gensler

False Princess by Eilis O’Neal

Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale

Switched by Amanda Hocking

Alvor or Wings of Light by Laura Bingham

Lemon Tart by Josi Kilpack (or later in the series)

Princess of the Midnight Ball or Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George

Beautiful Creatures or Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tasty Tuesday I Hate Chocolate Cake

When Wendy in Amanda Hocking's book Switched turned six years old she didn't want a birthday party.  She didn't want the chocolate cake her mother made her either.  "No, no, no!  It's my birthday and I don't want chocolate!"  Her mother's mistrust leads Wendy to find out the truth about her past. This cake is pretty easy and the glaze is to die for. The glaze can also be stored in the fridge for up to 6 weeks. Use it on fruit or ice cream.

I Hate Chocolate Cake

1 cup butter, softened
11/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
21/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup buttermilk*

1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 325'.  Prepare a 12 cup Bundt pan with cooking spray.
Cream together the butter and sugar.  Beat in the eggs one at a time and the vanilla. 
In a seperate bowl mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  Toss in semi-sweet chocolate chips and the walnuts (if using).
Alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk into the sugar mixture.  Mix only until blended, don't overmix.
Spoon the batter evenly into the Bundt pan. Bake for 55-60 minutes.  Let the cake cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

For the glaze, place a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water.  Add the glaze ingredients in the bow and sitr to melt.  Drizzle over the top of the cooled cake and let the glaze set for 20 minutes before serving. 
*If you don't have any buttermilk on hand, sour some milk by adding 1 teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

E-books and Switched by Amanda Hocking

This article originally appeared in the March 22, 2011 issue of the Syracuse Islander Newspaper.

Food to eat while reading: I Hate Chocolate Cake

Switched by Amanda Hocking is a self-published young-adult novel that has garnered attention and sales since the author posted her books on in April of 2010.

Switched is a paranormal romance in which seventeen-year old Wendy learns that she hails from a society of trylle (trolls) who switch their children with humans at birth in order to secure a profitable future for their race. Wendy discovers that she is a princess and heir to the kingdom of these magical people. She doesn’t know who to trust: Finn, the handsome tracker assigned to bring Wendy back to her birth family, Tove, the mysterious prince of a competing nation, or Rhys, the fun-loving human who has lived his entire life in the palace. When Wendy falls in love with Finn, she despairs that they can never be together in a society where the royal bloodlines must remain pure in order for the trylle to survive.

What I think
The romance in Switched is compelling and clean. Finn is loyal and worthy of Wendy’s affections, Tove is mysterious and complicated and Rhys is fun and easy going. There is a minimal amount of swearing in the book, including one mention of the F word.

Wendy’s abilities as a trylle are intriguing, and we are led to believe that more abilities will surface in Torn and Ascend, books two and three of the series.

There were a few grammatical errors here and there but once I got into the story, I quickly forgave Hocking.  My only complaint about the story is that it is purely entertaining.  That's not a bad thing of course, unless you are like me and cherish most the books that change my view of something or hit home on an emotional topic.


Switched and Amanda Hocking’s other e-books (which are available in paperback from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple and Smashwords) are well worth a handful of coins in exchange for adventure and romance.

E-book sales are on the rise. According to the Association of American Publishers, e-books grew 164.8 percent in December 2010 vs the previous year. With the recent improvements in e-reader technologies, devices like the Kindle and the iPad are making it easy and in many cases, inexpensive for readers to download books.

When Amanda Hocking struggled to find a traditional publisher for her novels, she followed the lead of other indie authors and made them available through The twenty-six year old from Minnesota worked at a low income day job, filling her spare time writing toward her dream of full-time author. It didn’t take long after posting her books in April of 2010 for Amanda’s dreams to come true.

Amanda has sold over 900,000 copies of her nine books and her name is listed on the USA Today Bestseller List, right under Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. In a matter of months Amanda has gone from barely getting by, to reaching over a million dollars in book sales.

On her blog, Amanda gives us an insight to why her books are selling. Amanda says, “From what I can guess, it happened because the books are in a popular genre, the covers are enjoyable, the price ($.99 to $2.99) is good, and the writing isn't terrible.”

With many writers self-publishing their works in an effort to jump on the train that Amanda Hocking and her peers are driving, how can you distinguish between the dross and the great read? Amanda tells us that she owes much of her success to book bloggers who publish reviews of books on sites such as Amazon and Goodreads. When you find an e-book in your browsing, do a little research of your own and find out what others are saying. You can take advantage of the new wave of technology that allows readers to buy a bestseller for the price of a soda.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Interview with Laura Bingham

If you enjoy fantasy books for young people, like the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull, I highly suggest that you read Laura Bingham's series that begins with the book Alvor.  The second book in the series is Wings of Light, which comes out in April of 2011.  Both are adventurous, imaginative and unpredictable. I'll be reviewing Wings of Light for Laura's blog tour later on this month.

What made you want to be an author?
I never set out to be an author.  I read a lot after my kids were born and the YA books were phenomanol.  Eventually it occurred to me that writing a book might be just as much fun as reading one.  That was how Alvor was born.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Each book I write is different in the way it comes into my head and heart.  There is no one answer to this. 
Are Erin and Bain based on your own twin children?
No way.  The only thing that my twins have in common is the magical relationship that so many twins share.  It's so unique that it's not hard to take two completely different characters and bond them in the same way my kids are in relationship to each other.
What are some of your favorite books of all time?
Ooh, this is a hard one.  The problem is, I'm always falling in love with new books.  It all depends on my mood.  Sometimes I like a good mystery, while other times I have to read the whole Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Twilight or Uglies series all over again just because I feel like it.  I know, cliche, but I don't have one single favorite. 
Are you working on any other books? Can you tell us about them?
I have a dystopian YA novel that my agent is pitching.  Right now, my work in progress is a contemporary love story with a tiny twist of science fiction.  Of course, the final book in the Alvor series is next up on my docket.
When will the sequel to Alvor be released?
WINGS OF LIGHT will be released April 8, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tasty Tuesday Cowgirl-up Cookies

Rapunzel doesn't sit around in her tower and wait for the fabled prince to come and save her.  In Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale, she uses spunk and courage to make her own way in the world and find justice for the people around her.  This cookie recipe has a little bit of everything and is large enough to feed everyone in your neck of the woods. 

Cowgirl-up Cookies

3/4 cup cold butter
11/2 cups granulated sugar
11/2 cups packed brown sugar
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup colored chocolate candies
1/2 cup coconut (optional)
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350'.  In a large bowl cream butter until smooth.  Add sugars and mix.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.  Stir in vanilla, peanut butter, and cinnamon until smooth.  Stir in flour and salt and half of oats.  Mix well and add the other half of oats.  Fold in butterscotch chips, colored chocolate candies coconut and walnuts, if desired. Using a 1/4 cup scoop, place eight large cookies on a sheet that has been prepared with cooking spray.  Press a few extra colored chocolate candies onto the top of each cookie.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until barely browned.  Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.  Makes 3 dozen giant cookies.