Friday, September 28, 2012

Nightingale Book Tour

Nightingale by David Farland

Today I am re-posting my review of David Farland's suspenseful Nightingale as part of a book tour.  I highly recommend it.  Go get yourself a copy here.

Be sure and visit the other stops on the tour.

Nightingale by David Farland is the first book being published by the author's own forward-thinking publishing company. What do you think of the cover?  I don't know about you, but I'd pick it up just to get a closer look. :)

East India Press takes e-books in a whole new direction with enhanced multimedia--soundtracks, movie clips, author interviews and more. From the site: "East India embraces emerging technologies and new distribution methods, producing every novel in three forms:  as an enhanced multimedia experience, as a standard e-book, and as a limited edition hardcover."

Read my interview with David here.
Food to eat while reading: 
David Farland, Nightingale
Memory Merchant's Sour Cream Blueberry Pie

Memory Merchant's Sour Cream Blueberry Pie

Bron's life in Nightingale by David Farland is bittersweet. He doesn't dare enjoy the glimpses of happiness he has in his new life with Olivia in St. George. Instead, he holds on to the walls he has built for himself through years of foster care. Olivia breaks through some of those barriers as she uses her skills as a memory merchant to plant in Bron's mind her own memories of learning to play the guitar.

This recipe is unique because the author suggested it. I tweaked the original recipe (given to me by Farland's lovely wife Mary) to make the sour cream and blueberry fillings separate and swirling around each other like the competing factions in Bron's life.  While visiting family in St. George, Utah (the setting of the book) I was able to make the recipe and photograph the pie on the red rocks of the area.

3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup blueberries, frozen or fresh
1 cup water
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon almond extract or lemon juice
unbaked pie crust (if you ask me nicely I will email you my mother's prizewinning pie recipe)

pecan topping (optional)
5 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons pecans, chopped

In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the sugar and cornstarch. Add blueberries and water and cook until boiling, stirring occasionally. Let boil for one minute and then remove from heat.  Allow to cool completely.

In a medium sized bowl, beat the eggs with a fork. Stir in the sour cream, and almond extract or lemon juice. Keep in the fridge or freezer until the blueberries are cooled.

Pour the cream mixture into the unbaked pie crust. Add the blueberry mixture on top of the cream. Swirl the two together with a spoon, giving it a marbled look.

Prepare pecan topping by combining the flour, butter and chopped pecans.

Cook at 400' for 30 minutes. Remove the pie and sprinkle the pecan mixture on top, if desired. Cover the edges of the pie crust with tin foil to prevent over browning. Cook for an additional 15 minutes. Let cool in the fridge. Best served the day you make it.

Bron Jones was abandoned as a newborn. Thrown into foster care,he is rejected by one family after another, until he meets Olivia, a gifted and devoted high-school teacher who recognizes him for what he really is--what her people call a "nightingale".
But Bron isn't ready to learn the truth. There are secrets that have been hidden from mankind for hundreds of thousands of years, secrets that should remain hidden. Some things are too dangerous to know.
Bron's secret may be the most dangerous of all. 

My review:

*note, I reviewed a non-enhanced copy of this e-book, print only.

I instantly felt empathy for Bron, a teen who had been handed from foster home to foster home and who hasn't allowed himself to love or be loved.

The prologue drew me in and let me know that Nightingale is no ordinary book. In its digital pages I sensed the promise of adventure, sacrifice and an unexplored world. I wasn't disappointed.

What teen boy wouldn't want to be Bron? Handsome, wicked talented on the guitar, able to control opponents just by willing it to be so, and looking forward to the time when he will emit a scent that will draw every female for miles around. With its focus on action and adventure, Nightingale will certainly appeal to both the male and female teen readership.

The world of masaaks is interesting and unique. The memory keeping and leech aspects of the race (the ability to take will and even life from a victim and add vitality and years to the masaak) reminds me of the dedicates in Farland's earlier fantasy series, Runelords. I like the idea and it feels natural in a YA urban fantasy novel.

The settings in Nightingale are masterfully painted and Farland transports his readers away from their daily grind. From small Alpine, Utah, to St. George, Utah with its red rocks and Tuacahn theatre, to the swamps of New Orleans, a palpable sense of place grounds the novel in reality. Readers are then free to make the fantastic jump into Bron's world.

I prefer to read books that have a female point of view and Nightingale is aimed at the YA male market, but I settled right into Bron's point of view. The violence and at times crudeness that come with a male protagonist are not on par with what I usually enjoy reading. They weren't overpowering though and I am certain, that Nightingale will appeal to the young ladies as well as the young men.

I enjoyed the first half of the book the most--the part that deals with high school and love interests and emotional stakes. The last third of the book bogged me down with violence and backstory about the malevolent half of the masaak population. I'll be anxious to see more of Tuacahn High School for the Performing Arts and Bron's emotional struggles in the next book in the series.

An exciting new urban fantasy with vivid settings and a unique twist on the paranormal, Nightingale is unlike anything I've ever read--you won't want to miss it.

I can't wait to see what the multimedia enhancements have to offer.

Farland has plans for three more books in the series: Dream Assassin, Draghoul, and Shadow Lord.

For more information about Nightingale and East India Press click here.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Block It Banana Cake

Block It Banana Cake for
Becoming Bayley by Susan Auten
Block It Banana Cake

Bayley doesn't exactly know where she fits in after her senior year in Star Valley.  An avid soccer player, Bayley in Becoming Bayley, by Susan Auten, alternates between being a tomboy, and wanting to attract a certain boy's attention. This banana cake transforms a simple banana into a confectionary delight, just like Bayley's transformation. This banana cake is my grandmother's recipe, recently transformed by my mother into a multi-layer masterpiece for use in my parent's restaurant. You can make it in your own home.


3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 large, ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 unbeaten egg yolks (save the whites)
3 cups cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 egg whites, beaten stiff
slivered almonds, optional

Fluffy Icing:

1 package vanilla pudding (not instant)
1/2 cup milk
6 Tablespoons shortening
6 Tablespoons butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla

Spray two round cake pans with cooking spray. Combine butter, sugar, bananas, and vanilla. Cream until fluffy. Add yolks and continue beating until light. Sift the cake flower and baking powder three times. Combine milk, vinegar and baking soda. Add the flour mixture and the liquid mixture to the butter mixture. Mix until well blended. Fold in the egg whites. Bake at 375' for 30-40 minutes.

Allow to cool completely. Remove cakes from pans. Cut each round in half with a large, serrated knife.

Mix pudding and milk and cook in a thick pan or double broiler until thickened. Cool. Add shortening, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Beat until smooth and creamy. Spread on a cool cake. Frost each layer.

*Tip:  To help ease the hardship of removing the cakes from the pans, trim circles of parchment paper to place on the bottom of the pans.  The cakes will slip out like a miracle.

Becoming Bailey by Susan Auten

Bayley Albrecht's dream is to play soccer on BYU's South Field. When she is invited to soccer camp the summer before her senior year in high school, she just knows she's one step closer to her dream. Things get even better when she meets Matt Macauley, the star of the men's soccer team. When they decide to write each other while Matt is on his mission, Bayley figures her life can't get any better. But it certainly can get worse... 

After she receives a minor concussion from playing soccer, Bayley discovers she had a disease called alopecia which causes her to lose her hair. As Bayley struggles to deal with the reality of her baldness she finds herself having to make some tough decisions. Can she still play soccer? Does she even want to? More importantly, should she tell Matt? And will he still want her when she does? Becoming Bayley is the story of one girl's journey through self-discovery, of the definition of true love, and of the realization that as a daughter of God, she is of infinite worth. 

~Published May 9th 2012 by Deseret Book Company

Food to Eat While Reading: Block it Banana Cake

Bayley is such a real character in this book that I wouldn't be surprised to bump into her on campus. She is spunky, loveable, and perfectly flawed. Her romance with Matt is sweet and riddled with uncertainty and insecurities--just right.

My hometown is the setting for part of this book, and my little sister is a tomboyish soccer player there. It's fun for me to read about Star Valley in the book.

The romance is balanced just right with Bayley's trials with alopecia. Bayley deals with her feelings of self-worth and her changing reflection with believable human emotions.

I love the spin off thread of Bayley's brother Chase, and her friend India. It made me smile.

The book is set at Brigham Young University and her boyfriend serves an LDS mission, however, Becoming Bayley is a book for young adults of all religious faiths.

Becoming Bayley is a book for anyone who has dared to dream--and won, despite the obstacles thrown in their way.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The 2011 Book Blogger's Cookbook is FREE on Amazon

 Amazon has price matched The 2011 Book Blogger's Cookbook and now it is officially free!  Please grab yourself a copy, and if you like it, don't forget to sample The 2012 Book Blogger's Cookbook as well.  

Great books, bloggers, and recipes meet in this fresh and unique cookbook that helps you experience books, not just read them.

 Books were selected from the author’s book review blog and paired with delectable recipes like “Fairy Touched Calico Brownies” from the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull, “7-Day Layer Dip” from Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall, and “I Hate Chocolate Cake” from Amanda Hocking’s Switched.
 Mouthwatering photos complement every recipe.

The 2011 Book Blogger’s Cookbook includes a foreword by Amanda Hocking, author of the USA Today Bestselling Trylle Trilogy and showcases over seventy reviews with links to book review blogs and author websites.

Whether you're a food lover, an avid reader or a book blogger, there’s something for you in The 2011 Book Blogger’s Cookbook.

Trailer Blitz for Altercation by Tamara Hart heiner

If you haven't read Tamara Hart Heiner's books, I recommend them for your reading pleasure.  I read Tamara's first book, Perilous last year, and I loved it.  Altercation is the sequel.  Take a look at the trailer:

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Of Grace and Chocolate by Krista Lynn Jensen

If someone told Jillian Parish moving on is easy, she would argue that it depends on what someone is leaving behind, and how much chocolate is available.

Jill has worked hard to build up a life far different than the one scarred by her mother's alcohol abuse. She works at a busy publishing house, is writing the novel of a lifetime, and goes home alone every day to a little dog, a spotless apartment, and a piece of 70% cacao and sugar. But in one day, Jill’s phone is stolen, she is tackled by a childhood love who has no idea who she is, and finds her long-lost sister on her front doorstep. In two days, Jill’s carefully controlled world is turned upside-down. In three days, she wonders if chocolate will ever be enough again.

When Scott Gentry moves to the city of Portland, Oregon and spots Jillian at church, he learns her reputation as a lost cause. But something compels him to get Sister Parish's attention, no matter how difficult that may prove. As Scott stumbles, crashes, and falls into Jill's guarded world, he finds himself with more attention than he bargained for, and more willing to do anything he can for the woman who is not made of stone, but of strength.

Grace brings Jill and Scott together, but can grace erase the past, or save the abandoned hearts left in its wake?

~Published January 2012 by Covenant Communications, Inc.

Food To Eat While Reading:  Hint of Spice Chocolate Brownies

I can't resist stories about book lovers and writers, and I could relate to Jill's desire to publish a book--oh and her love of chocolate.

Of Grace and Chocolate has such a fun beginning. You will be hooked, I promise.

I've met Krista Lynn Jensen a few times, and she is as sweet as her book sounds.

All of the characters are very real. Jill, with her sister's problems, and her mother's substance abuse; Scott, whose father's accident left him a vegetable; and even little Shiloh, who began life in an uncertain place.

The romance and action are balanced. The tension between Scott and Jill is playful and interesting and I wanted them to get together. I was intrigued that they had a past. The backstory of their past was descriptive and lurred me in. I long to visit Costa Rica now!

I loved how many of the characters have their own personal burdens that they have to come to terms with, and how each of them helped Jill reconcile her own demons.

My only complaint is that the beginning of the book doesn't seem to match the rest of the story. The beginning feels like chick lit, and the rest is more of a romantic suspense.

Save this book for a time when you can tuck it away with you, like you would a piece of fine, dark, Dove chocolate.

Hint of Spice Chocolate Brownies

 Chocolate Sizzle Brownies

Jill, in Of Grace and Chocolate, by Krista Lynn Jensen, likes things a certain way. She loves chocolate and I dare say that she would choose the chocolate lover's brownie. But when Scott enters her life and stirs up a past she's tried to forget, her life becomes anything but predictable. This recipe for brownies is chocolatey enough to satisfy any chocoholic, with a hint of something else, something that might spice up your life, just like Jill. 

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips 
1/2 pound butter (one stick)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350'. Spray a 9x13 inch pan with cooking spray. Heat the chocolate and butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until melted. Remove from heat and stir in the sugars until smooth. 

Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, chili powder, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and salt. Whisk the eggs, one at a time into the chocolate mixture. Add the dry ingredients, mixing until combined. Pour the brownie batter into the pan and bake for 25 minutes. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream, or drizzle with caramel or chocolate sauce (try the sauce for "I Hate Chocolate Cake" in The 2011 Book Blogger's Cookbook).

Meet and Greet for GUTGAA

Deana Barnhart

Welcome to all of my new writerly friends!  My name is Christy Dorrity.  I am a stay at home mom to five great kids.  I am an Irish dancer and an author.  My two Book Blogger's Cookbooks are available on Amazon, and I just recently finished my first novel, a YA mythic fantasy based on celtic mythology. 

Here on my blog I post reviews of the books I read every year, about 20-30.  Along with most books, I post a companion recipe, all of which will end up rolled together in next year's cookbook!

I live in the mountains with my best friend for a husband, my sweet kids, and a good dog.  What more could I possibly want? It's nice to meet you. Stay awhile.

For more info about GUTGAA click here. 

Interview with Amber Argyle, author of Witch Born, releasing September 5th

I'm tickled to death to tell you that Amber Argyle has a sequel to her lovely Witch Song book coming out today!  She is a good friend of mine, not to mention an exceptional writer. See my interview with Amber below. 

You can read my review of Witch Song here.
To purchase Witch Born today, click here. 

Christy:  How did writing a sequel differ from writing the first book in your series?

Amber:  Holy crap it was hard. I've written 8 books, but most were the first in a series, so a continuation was fairly new territory for me. Plus there's all this pressure for the second book to be better than the first book. The first book was out, so I couldn't change anything to make things fit. I had to figure out how to work with what I already had. I think I nailed it though.  

Christy:  You had such vivid cultures, lyrical songs, and even some great foods in Witch Song. Will readers be treated to such goodies in Witch Born?

Amber:  Yup. I wrote some scenes in just for you, Christy. :) I imagined something I really wanted to eat so you could write me a recipe (I'm super sneaky that way). I'm salivating just thinking about it. Here's a taste for you:
Mistin pointed out the best of the greens—one mixed with a dried sour-sweet berry, candied nuts, and a sunset pink dressing that tasted of onions and wine vinegar. Mistin piled their plates high with some kind of meat drenched in a sticky sauce with more dried berries and nuts.
Senna glanced at the numerous faces around the room. She caught snatches of conversations, everything from intercity trade to orders for weapons, while they ate food Senna had come to consider Witch staples—greens and herbs, berries and nuts, growing things that were easy for Witch song to create.
But where Haven’s fish usually was, there was some kind of meat. She bit into it—sweet and sour, like the salad. Why did every nation besides Nefalie think meat needed to be sweetened? “What is this, anyway?”
“Lamb with dried bitterberries,” Mistin whispered.
As the warm savor and sweetness filled her, she had to admit she was starting to get used to it. Like it, even. “Joshen would have loved this meal.”
Wait? What happened to Joshen? I'll leave you with that line as an ending. Mean aren't I???

Christy:  That's awesome!  Thanks for writing some food in for me. :)
Is Brusenna based at all on your own strengths and/or weaknesses?

Amber:  I wrote some things in the book in hopes of helping young girls going through what I went through. I was bullied and struggled with self esteem issues (both of which plague Brusenna). I wanted girls to find someone they could relate to. Someone they could see strand tall and learn to fight for herself, to believe in herself, to love herself. 

Christy:  What do you eat while you are reading/writing?

Amber:  I usually have to have a chocolate break in the middle of my writing, though I'm trying to be more healthy and grab a piece of fruit. Though sometimes a spoonful of nutella is just too tempting. 

Christy:  Is there a Witch Song 3? Are you working on other projects that you can share with us?

Amber:  I'm writing a short prequel, Witch War, that involves a minor character present in both books. I've already started it and it's awesome!
Also, I have a book ready for my editor to start on it. It's called Winter Queen. It's my most powerful work to date. You can learn more about both here: