The Southern Chocolatier – Chocolate Poke Cake

I think I may have truly died and gone to chocolate heaven!

This Chocolate Poke Cake is out of this world. SO chocolatey! So moist! Amazing. I dare you to try and keep your fork out of it.

Chocolate Poke Cake - so moist and to die for!
Chocolate Poke Cake - so moist and to die for!

Poke cakes have quickly become one of my favorite things to make when I’m looking for an easy but delicious cake. I love a beautiful layered cake, but sometimes easy ones are the way to go. And since poke cakes are defined by the holes that are poked into it and filled with flavor, there are so many possibilities.

It occurred to me that I didn’t have a single chocolate poke cake on the blog and that seemed criminal. Chocolate is a necessity in all things, so I went full out – chocolate all the way. In every bite.

I started with a devils food cake. I used a cake mix, but if you have a from scratch recipe you prefer, go for it. Sometimes boxes are a wonderful convenience. You could also use a regular chocolate mix, but the devils food makes this oh-so-chocolatey and I fully recommend it.

Chocolate Poke Cake - so moist and to die for!
Chocolate Poke Cake - so moist and to die for!

Once the cake is baked, poke holes all over it. I actually have a steel knife sharpening rod that I use to poke my holes, but you could also use the end of a wooden spoon, or something similar.

Believe it or not, I’ve never actually sharpened a knife with that rod. It’s only been used as a device for poking holes in cake. Seems appropriate for me, no?

Instead of just pouring plain sweetened condensed milk over the cake (because that would be boring, right?) I basically poured chocolate ganache over it. I melted the chocolate with the sweetened condensed milk, instead of the usual heavy whipping cream and used that. It’s amazing. So not boring and so good.

To top the cake off, I made chocolate whipped cream, the covered the cake with mini chocolate chips and chocolate sauce. Just in case there wasn’t enough chocolate already. I mean, can you even have too much chocolate? I don’t think it’s possible.

And in the case of this cake, it’s perfection. So much chocolate, but so balanced and delicious. Totally to die for.

You are welcome.

Chocolate Poke Cake - so moist and to die for!
Chocolate Poke Cake - so moist and to die for!

Chocolate Poke Cake

Yield: 9×13 cake

Ingredients

15.25 oz box Devils Food Chocolate Cake Mix, plus ingredients listed on box
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Chocolate Whipped Cream Topping
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp cocoa
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
mini chocolate chips
chocolate sauce

Instructions

1. Bake cake according to box directions in a 9×13 cake pan.
2. Once cake comes out of the oven, poke holes all over the top of the cake.
3. Place sweetened condensed milk and chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
4. Whisk chocolate and milk until smooth, microwaving more, if needed to melt the chocolate.
5. Pour chocolate mixture over the cake and spread to fill in holes.
6. Set cake aside to cool, about an hour, then refrigerate until completely cooled.
7. To make whipped topping, whip heavy cream until it begins to thicken.
8. Add powdered sugar, cocoa and vanilla extract and whip until stiff peaks form.
9. Spread whipped topping evenly over cooled cake.
10.Sprinkle mini chocolate chips over cake and drizzle with chocolate sauce. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

Borrowed from – http://www.lifeloveandsugar.com/

Summer in Snow Valley – It’s Christmas in Summer – $.99!



Summer in Snow Valley is available for pre-order for only $.99. Release date is June 1st and the $.99 special will last until June 6th. If you haven’t read

Christmas in Snow Valley, now is your chance to buy it May 24th through the 31st for only $.99.

Buy Christmas in Snow Valley on Amazon 

#1 Bestselling Authors of Christmas in Snow Valley, have teamed up again with six wonderful summer novellas that are sure to make your summer sweet and sassy!

Buy Summer in Snow Valley
 on

Amazon

Catching Caytie by Amazon Top Seller Cindy Roland Anderson
On the night Caytie Holbrook intends to break up with her cheating boyfriend, he blindsides her by announcing their engagement at a dinner party. When Caytie discovers her father is in on the scheme, she runs away from her home in Beverly Hills to hide out at her uncle’s ranch in Snow Valley, Montana. While Snow Valley is a beautiful place, Caytie only plans to stay until her twenty-fifth birthday when she’ll inherit a trust fund her grandmother left her, allowing her to pursue her dream to move to Italy. That is until she meets Jace McAllister, an incredibly sexy—although somewhat grumpy—cowboy who threatens to disrupt her plans.
Tin Foil Tiaras by Amazon Top Seller Jeanette Lewis
Cameron Elliott has come to Snow Valley to coach Annalisa Drake in the Miss Snow Valley pageant, and prove to her demanding boss that she deserves a place at the prestigious Westbrooke Agency. But Annalisa’s handsome and protective big brother, Kyle, is determined to keep his sister from becoming a reluctant beauty queen. As Cameron tries to win Kyle over, Kyle insists some things are more valuable than a title and as crazy as it sounds, Cameron might just believe him.
A Touch of Love by Amazon Top Seller Cami Checketts
Annie Stirland has endured a lifetime of teasing, embarrassment, and isolation due to her speech impediment. When irresistible cowboy, Luke Wilson, seems to be falling for her, she’s certain he’s too good to be true. A tragedy involving his ex-girlfriend proves she’s right. What man can resist sheltering someone they once loved? Annie knows she should walk away, but Luke isn’t ready to give her up.
First Love by Amazon Top Seller Taylor Hart
Janet Snow doesn’t expect to get caught in a full-blown make out session at her brother’s wedding. Especially not with Michael Hamilton, the boy she’d written off ten years ago. Even though they both agree to no complications, Janet’s not sure they can stick to it given their past. After a trip to the hot springs, a helicopter ride, and a proposal, even the most cautious single mother would start to wonder if true love really is just about the timing. Now Janet has to make a choice—play it safe or trust that her first love could also be her last.
Romancing Rebecca by Amazon Top Seller, Kimberley Montpetit
Rebecca Dash loved spending her teen summers swooning over Jane Austen and helping her aunt at the Starry Skies Bed & Breakfast in Snow Valley. But as a recent college grad, she’d rather write sappy romance novels than go out with guys that make her a nervous wreck. When a team of fire-fighters set up camp on the lawns of the B&B and Captain Wade catches her eye, Becca soon learns that there’s more to a happily-ever-after than a flirty fireman with muscles the size of the Montana hills.
Love in Light and Shadow by Amazon Top Seller Lucy McConnell
Mercedes O’Shay has sworn off gorgeous men because they have a tendency to break her heart. When she meets her new neighbor, Chet Bauer, she immediately puts him in the Do Not Date category based on his well-defined muscles and stunning blue eyes. But the more Mercedes learns about the cowboy who reads classics and forges iron, the more she realizes the heart doesn’t see in black and white; it sees light and shadows.

The Southern Chocolatier – Chocolate Muffins

When I first saw these I started drooling. I’m not kidding! With Blue Bell ice cream off the shelves, I am on the prowl to satisfy my chocolate cravings!

I am a huge fan of cupcakes and muffins are quite similar in my book. And, aren’t muffins good for breakfast? I was thinking – why not combine the two? You just can’t go wrong with this muffin!

Post image for Chocolate Muffins

 

These delicious, dark chocolate muffins aren’t over the top sweet, so you won’t feel too guilty about indulging in one as a mid-morning snack. The addition of espresso takes the chocolate experience to whole different level while the semi-sweet chocolate chips offer a little texture and added sweetness.

If you like a little crunch in your breakfast, add some walnuts, sunflower seeds or pecans. They’d all be a wonderful addition to an already pretty phenomenal breakfast experience.

Chocolate Muffins

YIELD: 12 muffins

PREP TIME: 15 minutes

COOK TIME: 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder (Hershey’s Special Dark)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons instant espresso granules dissolved in 2 teaspoons hot water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a standard muffin tin, or line with 12 paper muffin cups.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa, sugar, and 3/4 cup of the chocolate chips.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the milk, oil, egg, dissolved espresso granules, and vanilla; whisk to combine.

4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Batter may be slightly lumpy – that’s okay.

5. Divide the batter between the prepared muffin wells. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips on top of the muffins.

6. Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes or until the muffins are dark, risen and springy.

NOTES:

– I sprinkled the tops of my muffins with a little coarse sugar for added sparkle and texture.
– The muffins are best served the day they are made, but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for about 1 day.
– If you don’t have dark cocoa powder, you can substitute regular unsweetened cocoa powder.
– If you don’t have instant espresso granules, you can simply omit this ingredient.

Borrowed from – http://www.mybakingaddiction.com/

Love and Miscommunication by Elyssa Friedland – Review, 5 stars

LoveAndMissCommPBThis unforgettable debut novel asks us to look up from our screens and out at the world…and to imagine what life would be like with no searches, no status updates, no texts, no Tweets, no pins, and no posts

Evie Rosen has had enough. She’s tired of the partners at her law firm e-mailing her at all hours of the night. The thought of another online date makes her break out in a cold sweat. She’s over the clever hashtags and the endless selfies. So when her career hits a surprising roadblock and her heart is crushed by Facebook, Evie decides it’s time to put down her smart phone for good. (Beats stowing it in her underwear—she’s done that too!)

And that’s when she discovers a fresh start for real conversations, fewer distractions, and living in the moment, even if the moments are heartbreakingly difficult. Babies are born; marriages teeter; friendships are tested. Evie just may find love and a new direction when she least expects it, but she also learns that just because you unplug your phone doesn’t mean you can unplug from life.

Buy Link – Amazon

Elyssa.Friedland.HeadshotElyssa Friedland grew up in New Jersey and attended Yale University, where she served as managing editor of the Yale Daily News. She attended Columbia Law School and subsequently worked as an associate at a major firm. Prior to law school, Elyssa interned and wrote for several publications, including Modern Bride, New YorkMagazine, and CBS’s MarketWatch.com. She lives in New York City with her husband and three young children.

* Author Website * Twitter

 Buy Link – Amazon

My Review –

Love and Miscommunication is a cute novel that reminds us to put the phones down, turn off the computer, unplug the iPods and visit! Talk! Listen! Communicate face to face!

How can any of us even think of discarding our much-loved cell phones and computers?! I often hear of friends going out to dinner and all the cell phones are unceremoniously dumped in the center of the table and the first one to pick a phone up – pays. I can think of several, well, actually numerous times when I happen to be having a conversation with someone and they were checking the phone or texting at the same time and I’ve just stopped mid-sentence and they didn’t notice. I’m sure this has happened to us all at some point in our lives – tell the truth.

How does an up and coming attorney come unplugged after being fired for sending way too many emails?

festive chic attire. What the hell did that mean? Whatever it was intended to convey, it felt like a tall order after a ten-hour workday on a Saturday. She pulled open the bifold doors of her overstuffed closet, filled mostly with conservative work suits that blocked the view of her formal-wear options. From the back, she pried out the navy blue crepe dress that she had last worn to her great-aunt’s memorial service. By substituting sensible pumps with strappy sandals and adding dangly earrings, the dress could likely make the transition from funeral to celebratory…Her blackberry screeched like a rattlesnake … as she hastened to throw on lipstick and apply eyeliner… no such luck would it fit in her sequined bag…she didn’t know what to do…Carrying her phone all night was out of the question. Her friends would be merciless about her “Crackberry” addition. Leaving it home was also a nonstarter…Quickly, and trying as best she could not to consider the implications for the rest of her evening, she hiked her dress over her waist and slipped the PDA into her cotton panties… Evie checked her Blackberry so often that it was actually fitting it should take on the role of a bodily appendage. Someday, a more evolved version of her would emerge from the womb with a smart phone already implanted. She reached back down to lock the keys so she wouldn’t accidentally call anyone from down there. When her phone was safely secured between the grooves of her body and the fabric of her underwear, she actually felt somewhat satisfied with her solution and took a deep breath…everything would be okay…

Love and Miscommunication follows Evie for a year-long sabbatical of being unplugged and falling in love. The book is well-written and contains its fair share of comedy that will make you laugh. I actually can’t wait to read more by this author and I encourage you to add this book to your list of books to read.

 

My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. A free book may have been provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. 

 

The Southern Chocolatier – Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love chocolate – couldn’t tell could you? I’ve been posting some absolutely wonderful chocolate recipes from around the web and suddenly realized that there may be some fans out there in need of a gluten-free cookie (I apologize for the oversight there). Here’s one just for you.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies will become your new favorite. Don't forget the milk!These gluten-free chocolate chip cookies are perfectly soft and chewy and are sure to rival your current favorite!Before trying these gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, I hadn’t really found a gluten-free version that I loved just as much as the traditional kind with gluten. My previous attempts were either gritty or lacking in chewiness. Being as I don’t have any issues with gluten, I decided to just be lazy and go back to making my favorite recipe.

When I decided to give it another shot, what I was really hoping for was a gluten-free version of my favorite chocolate chip cookies – the New York Times chocolate chip cookies. If you’ve never tried them, you owe it to yourself to make them! I’ve even made a healthier version of those cookies which are just as delicious.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies are loaded with chocolate. Soft, chewy, and heavenly.

So I found a recipe for gluten-free chocolate chip cookies on the Land O’Lakes website that looked really promising, but I did a few things more like in the original NYT recipe since my goal was to recreate those. First, I refrigerated the dough for 24 hours, which contributes to the awesome texture of the NYT cookies. Then, to get mega-sized cookies, I weighed out 3 1/2-ounce balls of dough. When they came out of the oven, they looked absolutely gorgeous but when I bit into them, I was totally disappointed.

They were extremely gritty and cakey. I remade version after version, all coming out dismally, until I finally decided to just follow the instructions in the original Land O’Lakes recipe. And they came out perfectly!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies are great for kids and adults alike. Everyone will devour them!
They’re not as monstrous as the New York Times cookies, but they’re just as chewy and tasty and there’s absolutely nothing funky going on with the texture. I shared them with a few people and nobody had a clue that they were gluten-free. And as a bonus, you don’t have to chill the dough because it doesn’t have any effect on the texture.

I’ve provided gram measurements for the flour and recommend using them if you have a scale. Most people measure flour a little differently and when it comes to gluten-free baking, which can be a little more finnicky than traditional baking, I much prefer to weigh the ingredients to ensure success. As far as making substitutions for the gluten-free flours listed, I’ve only tested these with the listed flours so I can’t say if any others would work or not. If you experiment, let us know how it goes in the comments!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

YIELD: 24 cookies

PREP TIME: 20 minutes

COOK TIME: 9 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups (240 grams) white rice flour
1/2 cup (96 grams) potato starch (not potato flour)
1/4 cup (30 grams) tapioca flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 12-ounce package (2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided

Note: If you need these to be gluten-free, make sure all your products are certified gluten-free.

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the beater blade, beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until light and creamy. One at a time, add the eggs and beat until well combined. Add the vanilla and then gradually add in the flour mixture. Beat just until combined. Stir in 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips.

4. Form balls of dough, about 50 grams or a little less than 3 tablespoons in size, and roll the tops and sides of the balls in the remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Place the balls 2 1/2″ apart on the prepared baking sheet.

5. Bake for 9-12 minutes or until lightly browned and the surface no longer appears wet.

6. Let cool for 5 minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Borrowed from – http://www.mybakingaddiction.com/

The Southern Chocolatier – Move on over Girl Scouts! The Thin Mint is here!

 

But Thin Mints are truly unique cookies.  They’re the all time top seller for the Girls Scouts, and people have been known to hoard them in their freezer.  Couple that with the fact that no commercial bakeries are allowed to market them, and you’ll understand why I jumped on this one.

It’s not often that a recipe hums along, step by step, without a hitch.  Especially when it’s a copy-cat recipe that depends on an exacting replica of the original.  The color, shape, texture and taste of these cookies was perfect.  Eerily perfect. I can tell you without hesitation that this is the perfect Thin Mint recipe.   If you’re one of those people who loves Thin Mints, put your face right up close to the screen and listen carefully…run, don’t walk, to the nearest store to get what you need to make these.  Seriously.

I could tell the minute I cut out the cookies that something special was about to happen.  Even unbaked, the cookies already look like they’re going to be the perfect Thin Mint.  An added bonus is that the dough itself is wonderful to snack on, and there are LOTS of little leftover bits in between all those perfect little circles!

I tasted one of the cookies just out of the oven.  Still perfect.  I was getting really excited.

By the time I dipped the cookies in the peppermint infused chocolate I was positively giddy.  These are exact replicas of Thin Mints.  Clones, actually.

Homemade Thin Mints

WHAT YOU WILL NEED

For the cookies:
    • 1 cup (8 oz, or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Dutched dark cocoa powder which worked well)
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • ¾ teaspoon salt
    • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour (fluff the flour before scooping and leveling the cup, too much flour will result in a dry dough)
For the coating:
  • 16 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
  • 1 ½ teaspoon peppermint extract or oil (Make sure you get peppermint, not spearmint, and make sure you get extract, or oil, not flavoring)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Set the oven to 350F
  2. Cream butter until light and fluffy, then add the powdered sugar and mix until combined. Stir in the salt, vanilla and cocoa powder. Mix until the cocoa powder is integrated and the batter resembles a thick frosting. Add the flour and mix just until the flour is combined, making sure to not over mix.
  3. Form dough into a ball. Knead a few times to bring together, then flatten into a disk between half an inch and one inch thick, cover in plastic wrap then place in freezer for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove dough from the freezer and roll it out really thin on a floured surface, about 1/8-inch. Cut cookies using 1 1/2-inch cutter (I used a small cordial glass that measured almost 2″ and it was the perfect size).
  5. Place cookies on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool completely on a wire rack. While the cookies bake, make the peppermint coating. Chop the baking chocolate into very small, thin pieces. Place in a glass measuring cup or similar container and microwave in short 15-20 second bursts. Stir in the peppermint extract. Feel free to add more peppermint as you see fit. (Don’t add any more, the amount is perfect)
  6. Gently drop the cookies, one at a time, into the coating. Turn to coat entirely, then lift the cookie out of the chocolate with the fork and bang the fork on the side of the pan until the extra coating drips off. Place on a parchment or plastic wrap-lined baking sheet, and repeat for the rest of the cookies. Place the cookies in the refrigerator or freezer to set. (I didn’t need to do this, they set up fine after about 1/2 hour at room temperature, but then again, we were having a blizzard, “room temperature” is relative!)

NOTES

The dough is a little stiff and tended to crack while I was rolling it out. I just smooshed it back together with my fingers as I went. Melt the chocolate just before you are ready to dip, and make sure you stir in the extract well. A large glass measuring cup works well for the melting and dipping. Recipe adapted from The Chicagoist

 Copy Cap Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies

Borrowed from – theviewfromgreatisland.com

London Lovers Series by Amy Daws – Media Blitz

LondonBound_graphic
London Bound Becoming UsBecoming Us

London Lovers # 1

Blurb:

The dreaded friend-zone… The last place I ever want to be with college basketball God, Jake LaShae. I am losing my mind trying to figure out what this gorgeous and confident man wants from me. I need to break through his walls. What is it about me that makes him not go there? What am I lacking? When a mind-blowing betrayal knocks the wind out of me, and I think I can’t feel any lower…Brody stumbles into my path-barefoot no less, and sexy as hell. His direct and mouth-watering swagger is a breath of fresh air. The feelings this man gives me are like nothing I’ve ever experienced. But Brody has a past. A past that makes it nearly impossible for him to trust me and let us become us in whatever capacity that may be. Just when Brody and I truly connect, just when I think that finding my soul-mate in college isn’t a total joke, Jake comes back into my life…and messes things up…possibly for good.

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24343923-becoming-us

Buy Links:

AmazonKindle

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/becoming-us-amy-daws/1121080072?ean=9780990325284

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/becoming-us/id957419358?mt=11

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/becoming-us-1

London Bound A Broken UsA Broken Us

London Lovers # 2

Blurb:

The moment those words come out of the doctor’s mouth, I feel sick.

So sick.
The life I have dreamed of…obliterated.
And Brody.
God, Brody.
How will he look at me?
How can he accept me?
He’ll know what I hid from him.
He’ll know everything.
It’s over. It’s completely over. I can’t tell him “I love Us” anymore.
Even though I do.
Even though it will kill me.
I can’t tell him anything. Everything is ruined. Pummeled. Broken.
I have to leave him. I have to give up us.
I know he’ll come after me.
I just have to do something to make him not want to.

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23591842-a-broken-us

Buy Links:

Amazon: Kindle

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-broken-us-amy-daws/1120361694?ean=9780990325246

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/a-broken-us/id921908413?mt=11

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/a-broken-us

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00008]London Bound (London Lovers #3)

Release Date: May 14, 2015

Blurb:

***After falling in love with “us” in the first two installments of the London Lovers Series, now…it’s Leslie’s turn in this spicy series stand alone.***

When Leslie Lincoln, a spunky, red-headed American, suffers an awkward moment with an arousingly-sexy British man—she thinks her life can’t get any more pathetic.

She’s done with men.
She doesn’t need them.
She especially doesn’t need their muscular thighs.
No siree, she’s going to forget all about the brooding, complicated, and seductive “Theo” who captivated her on the dance floor of a London nightclub.

Keep telling yourself that, Lez…..

Immersing herself into a new type of romantic cleanse, Leslie thinks she’ll never lay eyes on Theo again. But somehow, he’s managed to bulldoze his way back in—her cheetah-print onesie pajamas be damned.

He wants more.
She wants to run.
But he can’t seem to let her go.

Both of them have a past—and neither want to share.

How can love possibly survive in darkness?

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24703334-london-bound

Buy Links:

Amazon: Kindle

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/london-bound/id990700481?mt=11

Excerpts: 

CHAPTER Five

“I think you need a spruce, Lez,” he states deadpan.

“A spruce? And what the hell does that entail?”

“Like a spa visit?” Angela asks excitedly.

“Not a spa exactly. More like…a cleanse.” Frank fixes a salacious grin on me as he appears excited for what he has in mind. I squirm, feeling nervous about where the hell this is going.

“I’ve done cleanses before, they are miserable,” Angela says, dramatically raising her glass and taking a drink.

“This is a different kind of cleanse. It could be miserable for Leslie, but I know many mates who would bloody love it.”

“What’s involved?” I ask warily. Why the hell would I agree to something that might make me miserable?

“It’s…what I would call…a seven-step program. You have to follow all of the steps in order to gain the maximum benefits and achieve full happiness. Do you agree to it?”

“Agree to what? To doing this crazy cleanse that I have no clue what’s even involved? Absolutely not! I can’t even drink black coffee, Frank. If this cleanse drink tastes disgusting, I can’t do it.”

“Nothing will taste disgusting on this cleanse, I assure you,” he replies cryptically.

“I don’t know.”

“You need this, Leslie. You’ve been in a funk ever since Finley got engaged to that sex monster, Brody.”

I blanch. Frank has a huge man-crush on Brody. It all started when he got a full-frontal Magic Mike image of Brody and Finley one morning at the house. Brody’s a good-looking guy, don’t get me wrong. But I see him more like a brother.

“So, this cleanse you’re suggesting will get me out of this funk?”

“Without question,” Frank says, and turns his wide brown eyes on me. He’s sincere. I can see it in his demeanor. He genuinely wants me to do this.

“I’m not interested in a boyfriend, Frank. I don’t want a relationship.”

“That’s not what this is about. I promise.”

I smirk sneakily and Frank jumps up thrusting his hands into the air in victory, knocking his chair down in the meantime. Several people gawk at his obnoxious display.

Holy balls. This is Frank. What have I gotten myself into?

 

Author PhotoAmy Daws is a goof of epic proportions. She enjoys making dumb videos and laughing at herself…a lot. It gets awkward. She thinks she should have tried her hand at improv theater but figured she’d learn how life looks behind the lens of a camera first.

She also thinks talking about herself in the third person isn’t awkward at all.

Amy lives in South Dakota with her husband, Kevin, and their miracle daughter, Lorelei. The long-awaited birth of Lorelei is what inspired Amy’s first book, Chasing Hope, and her passion for writing.

Amy’s contemporary romance books are a part of the The London Lovers Series and currently have two installments out with more to come. Her writing style is emotional and self-deprecating with awkward humor sprinkled in. Basically, if she makes you cry happy and sad tears…she’s achieved her goal. Extra points if you have to blow your nose.

Amy’s inspiration for writing is and always will be her six precious angel babies and her daughter, Lorelei. On most nights, you can find Amy and her family dancing to Strawberry Shortcake’s theme song or stuffing themselves inside children’s-sized playhouses because there is nothing they wouldn’t do for their little miracle.

Website: http://amydawsauthor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amydawsauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/amydawsauthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8193655.Amy_Daws

Superman Teaser

 

 

The FTC Disclaimer – My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. A free book may have been provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55.

For Those Who Hurt On Mother’s Day

Originally posted on john pavlovitz:

Tear

Today is Mother’s Day.

For many people that means flowers and handmade cards and brunches and hugs and laughter. It means celebration and gratitude and rejoicing.

But for some it just means tears.

For many moms and adult children out there, this day is a stark unsolicited reminder of what was but no longer is, or it is a heavy holiday of mourning what never was at all.

This day might bring with it the scalding sting of grief for the empty chair around a table.

It might come with choking regret for a relationship that has been horribly severed.

It might be a day of looking around at other mothers and other children, and feeling the unwelcome intrusion of jealousy that comes with comparison.

Consider this a love letter to you who are struggling today; you whose Mother’s Day experience might be rather bittersweet— or perhaps only bitter.

This is consent to feel fully the contents of your own heart…

View original 181 more words

The Southern Chocolatier – Double Chocolate – so much better than Single Chocolate!

I have to say, there’s only one thing better than plain ole’ chocolate – it’s DOUBLE DARK CHOCOLATE! These little bites of chocolate are wonderful and guess what? You don’t have to share! Just pop ’em in your mouth!

Double Dark Chocolate Cookie Cups - rich chocolate cups are topped with dark chocolate frosting to create an irresistible treat!

 

Double Dark Chocolate Cookie Cups - rich chocolate cups are topped with dark chocolate frosting to create an irresistible treat!

Dark chocolate cookies are topped with extra dark chocolate frosting. Real chocolate and dark cocoa powder creates a rich chocolate treat that is perfect for all chocolate lovers. They are unique and different than your standard cupcake or cookie. In fact, these little cups are the best of both with a crumbly cookie shell and smooth chocolate frosting. Best of all, they are single serving so you don’t even have to share!

Double Dark Chocolate Cookie Cups - rich chocolate cups are topped with dark chocolate frosting to create an irresistible treat!

Double Dark Chocolate Cookie Cups - rich chocolate cups are topped with dark chocolate frosting to create an irresistible treat!

Double Dark Chocolate Cookie Cups - rich chocolate cups are topped with dark chocolate frosting to create an irresistible treat!

Double Dark Chocolate Cookie Cups - rich chocolate cups are topped with dark chocolate frosting to create an irresistible treat!

Here are a few tips for making perfect cookie cups:

  • Press cookie dough into bottom of cup in an even layer and press about 1/2 way up the sides of each cup, forming a cup shape before you place them in the oven. You can also use the back of a cookie scoop.
  • Immediately upon removing cookie cups from oven, use the back of a cookie scoop to make an indentation in the cup.
Double Dark Chocolate Cookie Cups 
Serves: one dozen
Ingredients
For the cookie cups:
For the dark chocolate frosting:
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • raspberries, for garnish
Instructions
  1. To make the cookie cups, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 12 standard size muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add egg and vanilla; mix until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing on low speed until incorporated.
  3. Using a 1½ inch cookie scoop, scoop dough into muffin tin, dividing the dough evenly among cups. Press cookie dough into bottom of cup and press about ½ way up the sides of each cup, forming a cup shape. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven. Using the back of an ice cream scoop or tablespoon, press down on the center of each cookie to form a cup. Allow to cool 15 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely.
  5. To make the frosting, melt chocolate in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Remove from heat and let cool until no longer warm to the touch (you don’t want it to get so cool that it hardens).
  6. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together cream cheese and butter. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Slowly add sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt. Mix until well combined. Add melted chocolate and mix until well combined. Beat on medium-high speed for one minute.
  7. Pipe frosting onto cups and garnish with raspberries. Serve immediately.
Borrowed from – Spoonful of Flavor

Le Me Love You Again by Anna DeStefano – Giveaway, Review, 5 stars

An endearing series about love, family, and the magic of small-town life.

Selena Rosenthal left behind her high school sweetheart, who was the love of her life, seven years ago.

Now, she and the once-rebellious Oliver Bowman are back in Chandlerville—after his foster father’s heart attack and Selena’s contentious divorce—to deal with her secrets, the recklessness that caused their breakup, and the almost-strangers they’ve become to each other and their families.

As soon as his father is stronger, Oliver must return to the successful career that helps support a new generation of foster kids. But he’s falling for Selena again, her daughter has a hold on his heart, and he can’t imagine leaving behind his brothers and sisters once again.

More attached by the day to their charming hometown and families, Selena and Oliver fall in love for the second time.

Has fate brought Chandlerville’s prodigal children together again…this time forever?

Purchase on Amazon

My Review –

Let Me Love You Again picks up where Here in My Heart leaves off. Anna DeStefano weaves a wonderfully deep story with  complex characters. This book is more than just a wonderful love story, it delves into the foster care system and how loving parents can make so much difference in the lives of their foster children, so much so that the lines of original birth cease to exist.

It is a story about re-visiting the past and mending broken hearts to find new love. Let Me Love You Again is a heart-warming story that will stir emotions down deep inside as you read the book.

The writing was suburb and I am giving the book five stars.

Author – Anna DeStefano is the award-winning, nationally bestselling author of more than twenty-five books, including the Mimosa Lane novels and the Atlanta Heroes series. Born in Charleston, South Carolina, she has lived in the South her entire life. Her background as a care provider and adult educator in the world of crisis and grief recovery lends itself to the deeper psychological themes of every story she writes. She currently writes in a charming northeast suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, not all that different from her characters’ beloved Chandlerville. A wife and mother, she is also a workshop and keynote speaker, a writing coach, and a freelance editor.

Get to know Anna at annawrites.com/blog and the Anna DeStefano: Author page on Facebook, where she shares her inspirations, her challenges, a healthy dose of honest optimism, and tidbits about upcoming projects.

Purchase on Amazon

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. A free book may have been provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. 

The Australian by Lesley Young – Book Spotlight

The Australian

The Australian Tour Badge

The Australian (#2 Crime Royalty Romance)

  • Fall in love with an unforgettable female heroine!
  • Lose yourself in multiple plot twists!
  • Take a trip down under for only $2.99!

Charlie Sykes takes everything and everyone at face value, and believes life would be a lot easier if everyone else did, too. Jace Knight, international Aussie hotelier and purported playboy, has never met anyone like the absurdly literal and obliviously beautiful American who applies to his personal assistant position. The trouble is, how do you seduce a woman whose definition of flirting comes straight out of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary? That, and he’s not the only one after Charlie. Seems Mr. Knight may not be a reformed criminal after all. Charlie soon finds herself caught up in a whirlwind of dangerous international espionage that takes her from the hip streets of Sydney to the majestic Great Barrier Reef and the wild, desolate outback. A terrible trap’s being laid, but how will Charlie protect herself and prevent a devastating betrayal when she can’t even sort out what her heart’s telling her?

 Purchase on Amazon

My Review – will be coming soon

Lesley YoungLesley Young is a genre-defying author of unforgettable heroines who experience thrilling life- and love-altering journeys. Her debut novel was Sky’s End; her most recent stand-alone series, Crime Royalty Romance, includes The Frenchman and The Australian. She loves to hear from readers. Follow her at Facebook.com/LesleyYoungBooks, @LesleyYoungBks and lesleyyoungbooks.com/blog.

 Purchase on Amazon

The Southern Chocolatier – What could be more Southern than Southern Chocolate Cookies inspired by a trip to Charleston?

Southern Chocolate Cookies

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Hello everyone.

I absolutely love chocolate cookies, and the ones I’m sharing with you today are just heavenly…

I was inspired to make these cookies after visiting a café in Charleston, South Carolina. In that café they had chocolate cookies like these, dipped in dark chocolate and sprinkled with pecans, coconut or sprinkles.

Southern Chocolate Cookies

  • 12 oz. (340 g) chocolate
  • 1/2 cup (115 g) butter
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups (275 g) regular sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (65 g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ¾ oz. (250 g) chocolate chips
  • 6 oz. (170 g) pecan nuts
  • 5 oz. (140 g) walnuts

Optional:

Preheat oven to 350 ˚F (180 ˚C). Line a baking tray with baking parchment and set aside.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, or use the microwave. Leave to cool completely.

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Put the eggs into a bowl and beat for 30 seconds, then add the sugar and vanilla and beat for another 15 minutes.

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Add the cooled chocolate, flour, baking powder and salt, and beat until everything is well blended.

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Add the chocolate chips, pecan nuts and walnuts and fold them in with a rubber spatula.

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I use an ice cream scoop (2 inches/5 cm diameter) to arrange equally sized mounds of dough on the baking tray.

Make sure that the cookies are well spaced apart to allow for spreading while baking.

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Bake for about 20 minutes.

If you want to dip them in chocolate and sprinkle with some coconut, pecan nuts or sprinkles, leave the cookies to cool completely before you do so.

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I hope you’re tempted…

Borrowed from – http://en.passionforbaking.com/

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The Southern Chocolatier – Not for the faint of heart – Caramel AND Chocolate!

When I say not for the faint of heart – this cake has both chocolate and caramel! My mouth is watering!

3 Layered Chocolate & Caramel Cake

PicMonkey Collage

This is a 3 layered chocolate cake with a smooth and silky caramel frosting…

Here is the recipe, enjoy!

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Chocolate cake (basic recipe)

  • 1 portion silky caramel frosting (see recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 320 ˚F (160 ˚C).

Spray the inside of three same size cake pans with non-stick baking spray, line the bases with baking parchment and spray again.

I use three 8-inch (20 cm) pans, you can use one 11 or 12-inch (28 or 32 cm) pan instead, but then you will have to divide the cake into three layers after it has been baked.

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Make the strong coffee and pour it into a bowl. Mix the coffee with the cocoa powder and sour cream. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Sift it all twice more for extra added air.

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In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for about 7 minutes until pale and fluffy.

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Add the sugar and brown sugar and beat for another 7 minutes.

Add the eggs one at a time beating between each addition, then add the vanilla and beat until everything is well blended.

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Add the flour mixture in two additions, alternating with the cooled cocoa mixture.

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Divide the batter equally among the three prepared pans.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

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Leave to cool completely.

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Make the caramel frosting…

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Start by making a caramel sauce:

  • 1 cup (225 g) regular sugar
  • 1/4 cup (65 ml) water
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon (250 ml) heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt (optional)

Put the sugar and water in a saucepan and place on a medium heat. Stir gently until the sugar has dissolved.

Increase the heat to high and bring to the boil without stirring.

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Allow to bubble away until the mixture turns to a rich amber colored caramel, then take the pan off the heat.

Pour in the vanilla extract and the cream, but use caution when adding the cream to the pan as the mixture will bubble up.

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Put the pan back on the heat and stir well until everything is well blended, about 1 minute.

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Caramel frosting

  • 16 oz. (450 g) dark chocolate
  • 2 cups (450 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • caramel sauce

Put the chocolate into a mixing bowl and pour over the warm caramel. Stir until the mixture starts to cool down.

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Then add the butter, little by little, beating until everything is smooth and well blended.

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The frosting is done when the texture is soft and silky…

If you added the butter while the mixture was still warm, just place the bowl in the refrigerator for a few minutes and continue beating.

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Spread one-fourth of the frosting over the first two cakes, then spread the rest over the top and sides of the cake.

To make circular swirls on top: place the cake on a turntable, hold a spoon in the middle of the cake and slowly move it further out (to make larger and larger circles) whilst turning the turntable. Remove the spoon when you’re getting close to the edge.

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Freshly Baked… this is just sooo good…

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I hope you’re tempted…

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I wish you all a wonderful weekend, take care of each other.

Hugs from me to you.

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Borrowed from – http://en.passionforbaking.com/

 

Lindsay McKenna, author of RUNNING FIRE, on tour April/May 2015

Running Fire by Lindsay McKenna_book coverAbout Running Fire

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HQN Books (April 28, 2015)

He was a haven in the midst of Hell…

Temporarily assigned to the Shadow Squadron in a troubled region of Afghanistan, Chief Warrant Officer and pilot Leah Mackenzie is no stranger to conflict—even if most of her physical and emotional scars are courtesy of her vicious ex. Still, she’s got a bad feeling about picking up a team of stranded SEALs. A feeling that’s all too justified once enemy fire hits their helicopter and all hell breaks loose…

SEAL Kell Ballard’s goal was to get the injured pilot out of harm’s way and find shelter deep in the labyrinth of caves. It’s a place of dark intimacy, where Leah finds unexpected safety in a man’s arms. Where prohibited attraction burns brightly. And where they’ll hide until the time comes to face the enemy outside…and the enemy within their ranks.

Praise for Lindsay McKenna’s work:

  • “Fans of military romance will appreciate.” –Booklist
  • Taking Fire is a pure page-turner.” – RT Book Reviews
  •  “…fast-paced romantic suspense that renders a beautiful love story, start to finish. McKenna’s writing is flawless, and her story line fully absorbing. More, please.” – Library Journal
  • Chosen as a Library Journal Editor Spring Picks 2015
  •  “When it comes to women in combat, McKenna never disappoints. As always, her battlefield action is rapid-fire and relentless. The sounds and imagery seem so real they draw the reader into the crossfire.” –ReaderToReader.com

Add to Goodreads badge

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Lindsay McKennaAbout Lindsay McKenna

A U.S. Navy veteran, she was a meteorologist while serving her country. She pioneered the military romance in 1993 with Captive of Fate, Silhouette Special edition.  Her heart and focus is on honoring and showing our military men and women.  Creator of the Wyoming Series and Shadow Warriors series for HQN, she writes emotionally and romantically intense suspense stories.

Connect with Lindsay

Website | Facebook | Twitter

My Review –

Running Fire was an amazing read. The writing was superb. The action keeps you on the edge of your seat. The romance leaves you swooning.

I truly don’t know what else to say about the book. It was a perfect story. Running Fire depicts real life in the military. It picks you up, flies you in a helicopter, and sets you down in a front row seat of war. The action swallows you whole. You never quite know what lies around the next corner, in the next cave, or the next mountain. It is a story of trust, betrayal, and taking care of one’s own.

If you’ve never read a Lindsay McKenna book, start with this one. You will soon find yourself devouring every one of her books.

I wish there were more than five stars. 

Lindsay McKenna’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, April 13th: Book Mama Blog – author guest post

Monday, April 20th: Feminist Reflections

Monday, April 20th: Books a la Mode – author guest post

Tuesday, April 21st: Palmer’s Page Turners

Wednesday, April 22nd: The World As I See It

Thursday, April 23rd: Romance Novels for the Beach

Friday, April 24th: Sara’s Organized Chaos

Monday, April 27th: The Romance Dish – author guest post

Monday, April 27th: Hot Guys in Books

Monday, April 27th: Booked on a Feeling

Tuesday, April 28th: My Life. One Story At a Time.

Wednesday, April 29th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Thursday, April 30th: Mignon Mykel Reviews

Monday, May 4th: Books and Spoons

Tuesday, May 5th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Wednesday, May 6th: Bibliotica

Thursday, May 7th: The Pen and Muse

Friday, May 8th: From the TBR Pile

Friday, May 8th: Written Love Reviews

Monday, May 11th: Life is Story

Wednesday, May 13th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Thursday, May 14th: Read Love Blog

The Southern Chocolatier – Brownies can only be improved on in one way!

There’s only one way in my mind to improve on brownies, and that one way is to add ice cream!

Mint Chip Brownie Ice Cream Squares

Mint Chip Brownie Ice Cream Squares - Simply INCREDIBLE!!

Love brownies?  Love mint chip ice cream?  You are going to really love these Mint Chip Brownie Ice Cream Squares!

Of course when you layer brownies, ice cream, chocolate fudge and whipped cream… there is really no way it’s going to be bad! =)

Mint Brownie Ice Cream Bars - Easy to make and so incredibly good!!

Print

Mint Chip Brownie Ice Cream Squares

Mint chip ice cream is layered on fudge brownies, then topped with a layer of chocolate, whipped cream and mini chocolate chips… this is the PERFECT summer dessert!

Yield: 1- 9″x13″ pan (12-16 servings)

ingredients:

Brownie Layer-
Choose a boxed mix designed for a 9″x9″ pan. I used Ghirardelli Fudge Brownies.

Ice Cream Layer-
1 carton (1.5 quarts) Mint Chip Ice Cream

Chocolate Layer-
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
-OR- use good quality hot fudge sauce (1 to 1 1/2 cups)

Whipped Cream Layer-
Use 1- 8oz tub of Whipped Topping (Cool Whip)
-OR- 1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Garnish/Toppings-
Chopped Andes Mints, mini chocolate chips, chocolate pearls, etc.

directions:

Brownie Layer
Line a 9″x13″ pan with parchment paper.
Prepare brownies according to package, then spread batter into pan.
Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs, but no wet batter.
Cool Brownies.

Ice Cream Layer
Allow a carton of ice cream to sit out at room temperature about 20 minutes, until soft enough to spread over the cooled brownies.
Once the ice cream has been evenly spread, place the entire pan in the freezer to allow the ice cream to re-freeze.

Chocolate Layer
Heat the cream in the microwave for 1-2 minutes until hot (watch it so it does not boil). Add chocolate chips to the hot cream and set aside (undisturbed) about 3 minutes to allow the chocolate to melt. After 3 minutes, stir the chocolate until the cream and chocolate are fully combined.
Set aside and allow to cool to about room temperature.
Once cool, pour the chocolate over the ice cream layer, and spread evenly.
-OR- Heat a jar of good quality hot fudge until just warm enough to spread, and spread on top of frozen ice cream layer.
Return pan to freezer.

Whipped Cream Layer
Thaw 1 small tub of Cool Whip at room temperature until spreadable,
-OR- whip heavy cream, sugar and vanilla together in an electric mixer.
Spread whipped topping over chilled chocolate layer.

Garnish the whipped cream layer with toppings of your choice. I used a bit of everything I had on hand… a few chopped Andes Mints, mini chocolate chips and chocolate pearls.

Return pan to freezer and FREEZE AT LEAST 3 HOURS before serving.

The entire dessert can be made ahead, and kept in the freezer (covered) up to 3 days in advance.

– – – – – – – – –

Although the recipe will be made in a 9″x13″ pan, I recommend using a boxed brownie mix (or brownie recipe) designed for a 9″x9″ pan so the brownie layer is nice and thin.

Of course feel free to make the brownie layer using a from-scratch recipe if you like.

As much as I love real whipped cream, I usually use Cool Whip (or similar) for this dessert. The smooth texture works well with frozen desserts. If you are not a big fan of Cool Whip, I often use whipped topping from called Tru Whip that I have found at Whole Foods.

Mint Chip Brownie Ice Cream Squares - So incredibly delicious!!

 Borrowed from – http://www.glorioustreats.com/

The Southern Chocolatier – Savoring the flavor of snickers!

What’s better than eating a Snicker’s Bar? You guessed it! Eating a Snicker’s Bar on top of a cupcake!

Post image for Snickers Cupcakes


This is definitely a semi-homemade type of dessert; if you’re opposed to doctored up box mixes, no worries, just sub in your favorite chocolate cake recipe. Personally, I think the cake recipe below is pretty rocking and I use it when I am in a hurry or need an incredibly moist cake. I hope you give this recipe a try because it’s definitely a crowd pleaser!

Snickers Cupcakes

YIELD: 24-30 Cupcakes

INGREDIENTS:

For the cake:

1 (18.25 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix
1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs; lightly beaten
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon of vanilla
24-30 frozen Snickers Miniatures

For the frosting:

2 sticks unsalted butter; room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 pounds confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup caramel topping; plus more for drizzling
1/4 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

For the cake:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Line (2) 12 cup muffin tins with paper liners.
3. In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs, vanilla and water.
4. Evenly divide the batter amongst the prepared pans. {I use a large cookie scoop from OXO to scoop my batter; it holds 3 tablespoons}.
5. Gently push a frozen Snickers Miniature bar into the center of the batter and smooth the surface making sure to cover the candy bar with batter.
6. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean.
7. Cool cupcakes thoroughly on wire rack.

For the frosting:

1. Cream the butter and shortening in the bowl of an electric or stand mixer. Add the vanilla extract, salt and caramel syrup and combine well.
2. Begin adding in the sugar and mixing thoroughly after each addition. After all of the sugar has been added and mixed thoroughly, give it a taste and decide if you want to add in more caramel syrup. For thicker frosting you can gradually add in a little more sugar.

Garnish with chopped Snickers bars and a drizzle of caramel of caramel syrup.

NOTES:

– Not a fan of Snickers? Sub in your favorite candy bar, just make sure you freeze them first.
– Not a fan of vegetable shortening? No worries, simply sub in butter for the shortening.

Borrowed from – http://www.mybakingaddiction.com/

 

Steeped in Southern Tradition – Tea

Today my choice of tea is a Raspberry Tea by Celestial Seasonings served in a pretty blue and white china cup and saucer.

You can’t go wrong with fruit teas.

 

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Never Surrender Your Soul by Brian Michael Good – Media Blitz

“Never Surrender Your Soul” is a synopsis of Brian Michael Good’s life struggles and triumphs, meant to encourage struggling individuals make sense of the world and find hope to live a meaningful life. The book explains how the author was able to rise from the ashes of defeat to live a successful and rewarding life and feel peace and contentment. Brian’s spiritual and lifestyle insights provide the truth and inspiration individuals need for creating significant life changes. The title reflects the heart of the book, as the author beseeches the reader to consider areas of life that can weigh them down, such as hardship, fear, and depression, which can drive them to give up their soul – their very ticket to the afterlife. Decide to keep your ticket to the afterlife by never surrendering your soul. This book will show you how!

BOOK DETAILS

Publisher: Big Bang Publishing

Publication Date: December 29, 2014

Genre: Self-Help/Spiritual/Memoir

Formats: Paperback, Kindle

Print Length: 104 pages

Paperback Price: $8.00

Kindle Price: $2.99

BOOK LINKS

Amazon Paperback: Paperback

Barnes & Noble Paperback: www.barnesandnoble.com/w/never-surrender-your-soul-brian-michael-good/1121024044?ean=9780986252723

Kindle: Kindle

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/book/show/24699224-never-surrender-your-soul

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Never-Surrender-Your-Soul/357581144409444

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Michael Good is a self-made man. He has lived a life buffeted by character-altering hurricanes. His life storms began in his trauma-filled childhood within his dysfunctional family.

He survived childhood verbal, physical, and sexual abuse; the death of two siblings; the stigma of being homeless – not once, but three times; two bankruptcies; a six-pound cancer that was doubling every two months; a near-fatal suicide attempt in 2003; the death of his best friend; three divorces; and the rejection of his only daughter.

How can one man encounter so many hurricanes, survive them, learn from them, and then strive to make the world a better place? This was the question Brian asked himself that led to “Never Surrender Your Soul.”

AUTHOR LINKS

Amazon: www.amazon.com/Brian-Michael-Good/e/B00RL2OGB4

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/10777469.Brian_Michael_Good

Facebook: www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Michael-Good-Author/100000235296330

Twitter: www.twitter.com/1PearlofWisdom

Google+: www.plus.google.com/101467357273510278816/posts

Website: www.brianmichaelgood.com

Excerpt – 

SURRENDERING YOUR SOUL

We are taught to nurture the health of our body, mind, and soul; often they are neglected. While our health declines as each year passes, we value our soul more knowing that it is all that will remain.

We are born with free will, a soul, and a ticket to the afterlife. Your soul comes with a passport and visa with a destination of the afterlife. Your passport is your free will, which allows you to choose your belief system. You should nurture your belief system (your visa) as a mother nurtures an infant. It is best to choose a belief system that allows you to be fair-minded and even-handed. Be aware you may lose your visa based on the belief system you choose, making your ticket to the afterlife with your soul unable to reach your desired destination. Your ticket to the afterlife is your soul. Decide to keep your ticket to the afterlife by never surrendering your soul and count yourself a survivor.

If you surrender your visa, making your passport useless and thus your ticket to the afterlife worthless, one may not make it to the afterlife except for Weshemehe [my universal word for “God”] of second chances.

Reincarnation is a possibility. Even if one could prove reincarnation to be true, each life of reincarnation would most likely get substantially harder… especially if you kill, die by suicide, steal, or take someone’s free will. If you screwed up in a lifetime and surrendered your soul in your present life, you have until your last breath to meet your true destiny. A true destiny must be met without greed or thirst for money. It must be unselfish and spiritual in nature, only then will Weshemehe consider giving you a second chance. Continue reading

A Southern Tradition – Tea

Today’s tea is Lady Grey Tea served in a beautiful pink floral tea-cup that I came across in a little shop I visited year’s ago.

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What are you drinking today?

From Louisiana to Walnut Mountain – It’s vacation time! Part 1

We’ve been on vacation this past week. It started off with a bang – literally, and not in a good way. We were only about twenty miles from home and were going through a school zone when a man came running through the traffic waving his arms shouting, “Stop. A cop’s been shot!”

IMG_3010We were just moments behind the flying bullets which took down a deputy. He was shot in the eye, arm, and chest. Even with these injuries, he managed to get off a few shots at the assailant. When traffic was finally released and we passed the scene, five shots were noticeable in the truck’s windshield.

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While we sat in the middle of the highway only a few hundred yards away, but still in range of bullets, police and first responders swarmed in. We had a front row seat to the assailant being taken down by the police.

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What made the scene even more eerily, is this happened in a small town where I attended school as a child and the bus I rode turned in to the school in this very spot. Back then, this was unheard of. When crossing guards motioned for you to stop, you stopped. You didn’t get mad, flee the scene and return with a gun.

After an hour delay, we were on our way to New Orleans. We had just cleared New Orleans East when we came upon two company trucks, pulling road warning signs of all things. I say this because the driver of the second truck was busy texting and in the process wasn’t paying too much attention to how close he was getting to the truck in front of him. Although they were hauling road caution signs, they were not displaying much caution.

People texting while driving really irks me. While hubby drove along side the truck, I looked up the company name on my phone. Once we had the truck number, I phoned in to speak to the safety manager. He was a little surprised at the information we were able to provide. He asked what the driver looked like so he could be sure he spoke to the correct person. We not only provided a description of the driver, but the mile post, direction, time, and truck information.

The safety manager said that he was sure that the driver would deny the accusation, but also remarked that where there was smoke, there was normally fire and with the information we provided, he wouldn’t be able to easily weasel out of the problem. I guess when the driver decided to text, he wasn’t expecting a trooper to be watching. The safety manager thanked us for the information and told us he was glad we had called in.

I think we were heading through Alabama (from Louisiana) when we came across this on the interstate. I couldn’t resist clicking a picture.

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It’s not often you see this!

Our trip originated in Southern Louisiana and we traveled through Mississippi, Alabama, and then Georgia on this trip on our way to the Smokey Mountains in Northern Georgia. You see a lot of strange things out there on the interstate!

We headed through a rainstorm that insisted on following us part of the way north.

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With the morning delay, by the time we made it to Atlanta, we hit work traffic. It was a mess. I’ll never forget the first time I experienced Atlanta traffic. It was years ago. We came off of an overpass and around a curve and saw eight lanes of stalled traffic.

This was only six lanes wide.

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North of Atlanta, we ran into more rain as we headed into the mountains.

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Even with all the delays and weather, we still ended up arriving at Walnut Mountain before dark – just! These photos were taken on the mile drive up to the top of the mountain. This is actually a very steep incline.

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The fog rolled in as we reached the top.

I invite you to stay tuned for more of our adventures!

*Update – On the trip home as I was checking on the condition of the deputy that was shot, I stumbled across the name of the shooter. My heart skipped a beat when I realized that it was someone that I attended school with for five years. It is hard to reconcile the individual who picked up a gun and shot at another human being with someone I knew so long ago. Proves once again, it’s a small, small world.

The Southern Chocolatier – How to package those delicoius cupcakes

Cupcakes are my most FAVORITE thing in the whole world. I think I may have mentioned a time or two just how much I love them; little bits of cake that you don’t have to share! I was looking around on the internet and came across this post on the way I package cupcakes. It makes a wonderful treat to take home or as a presentation at a party.

an easy way to package cupcakes for parties

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All the materials you’ll need are readily available at your local craft store.

How To Package Cupcakes

INGREDIENTS:

DIRECTIONS:

1. Place cooked and cooled cupcakes into plastic cups. If your liners happened to fade during the baking process, add another liner to each cupcake to make the design brighter and more visible.

2. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes and top with sprinkles.

3. Gently place cups into cellophane bags. Add your tags to the twine or ribbon and tie the top of the bag.

NOTES:

– If you are using a soft frosting such as cream cheese, meringue, or Italian buttercream, I would recommend attaching a spoon to your cup.

Borrowed from – http://www.mybakingaddiction.com/

A Southern Tradition – Tea

Today’s tea is Celestial Black Cherry Tea in a Mary Englebriet cup and saucer from my collection. This is the cup and saucer that started my collection. Those are also my cousin’s Koloches in the background. Yummy!

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What’s in your cup today?

Reflections of a Successful Wallflower; Lessons in Business, Lessons in Life by Andrea Michaels – Review

Reflections of a Successful Wallflower can only be compared to reading the diaries of Andrea Michaels, considered to be the backbone of the special events industry. This multiple award-winning business woman shares openly and candidly, not only the public wunderkind but the inner woman. Discover the workings of one of the foremost event producers in the world. You’ll laugh; you’ll cry; you’ll be in disbelief and fascinated at the same time. Andrea is a storyteller, and her stories and her life are great lessons for everyone.

Purchase on Amazon

About the Author

ANDREA MICHAELS

President of Extraordinary Events

Winner of 39 Special Events magazine Gala Awards, Andrea was honored as the“Pillar of the Industry” during The Special Event Gala in 2014. This unique one-time-only achievement award, on the heels of the 25th Anniversary of Extraordinary Events, recognized Andrea for a lifetime of elevating the quality, integrity, creativity and impact of the events industry, as well as spearheading its international outreach. Andrea is also the first inductee into the Special Event Industry Hall of Fame and the recipient of the coveted Special Event Award of Excellence and a Lifetime Achievement Award. Additionally, she has won the M.P.I. Global Paragon Award and a SITE Crystal Award, among many other such honors. Andrea has planned and produced events since 1973, expanding from local Los Angeles based events to a dominant international presence.

How does Andrea stay ahead of the competition and consistently exceed her clients’ expectations? She listens. To her clients. To her vendors. To the industry. Then she integrates that very precise information in order to achieve her clients’ individual goals through creative marketing and integrated special events. What does this mean and how does it benefit you? It means that Andrea will promise that your needs are understood, your goals are met, and your budget is respected. All achieved through listening.

Andrea thinks of each event like a play…with an overture, acts, and finale, which brings a satisfying experience to all who attend her events. She believes in intense communication through marketing strategies designed to fulfill the goals of each individual project.

Whether it’s a multi-day festival at Mall of America, the opening of G.M. Place in Vancouver, hybrid events for MINI, the holiday spectacle for Go Daddy or multi-day programs throughout Europe, Asia or Latin America, no event is too small or too large. All are given equal attention.

Andrea’s conceptualization skills, logistical savvy, and ability to produce the mega-event for thousands of guests are legendary. Each event presented to her is analyzed for its specific needs. Her ever-growing clientele is loyal, and many clients have been with her for more than 20 years. These sought-after relationships are based on proven performance and enriched with trust and ethics. She listened carefully 25 years ago. She listens now.

Andrea is now a published author. Available on Amazon as a hard-bound book or on Kindle, as well as at Barnes & Noble book stores, her book, Reflections of a Successful Wallflower; Lessons in Business, Lessons in Life, is a tell-all, in-depth glimpse into her personal and professional life and is quite a read! Other books co-authored by Andrea include: Stepping Stones to Success with Deepak Chopra and Jack Canfield; Yes You Can! Reaching your Potential While Achieving Greatness with Dr. Warren Bennis and Jim Rohn; Bushido Business – The Fine Art of the Modern Professional with Tom Hopkins, Brian Tracy and Stephen M.R. Covey; and Mastering the Art of Success with Mark Victor Hansen, Les Brown and Jack Canfield.

Follow Andrea on https://www.facebook.com/pages/Extraordinary-Events/;https://www.facebook.com/pages/Reflections-of-a-Successful-Wallflower-Lessons-in-Business-Lessons-in-Life/

Purchase on Amazon

My Review –

Reflections of a Successful Wallflower is an extraordinary book. Andrea Michaels tells the story of her life and her life in the business with humor and candidness. You find yourself holding your breath as you read through the exploits and “almost didn’t come to fruition” stories. 

Andrea Michaels is someone who knows how to get it done and has proven this on many occasions. Before reading the book, I honestly had never heard of the author, but I was always curious about how huge events were pulled off. I found the book enlightening in both areas.

Reflections of a Successful Wallflower is both entertaining and informative and written with a sense of humor. I am giving the book five stars.

The Southern Chocolatier – Did someone say Oreo?

No-Bake Oreo Cheesecake!

No-Bake Oreo Cheesecake - this simple recipe makes an absolutely drool-worthy cheesecake without a lot of work time or ingredients

And oh my goodness, the recipe I came up with is incredible!  It is very rich and delicious.  And just the right amount of sweet and tart like any good cheesecake is.  And the best part is that it only took about 10 minutes to prepare!  The bad news is that it had to refrigerate for 4 hours before I could dig into it.  But let me tell you, it was well worth the wait!

This No-Bake Oreo Cheesecake is incredibly delicious and is sure to wow any guests!  This recipe is a keeper!

No-Bake Oreo Cheesecake

NO-BAKE OREO CHEESECAKE

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Beat approximately half of the milk with the cream cheese in a large bowl until well combined.
  2. Add remaining milk and dry pudding mix and beat with a wisk for about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Gently fold in crushed OREO’s and Cool Whip until combined.
  4. Spread into prepared OREO pie crust.
  5. Refrigerate at least 4 hours until firm and leave in fridge until ready to serve.
  6. Can garnish with whipped cream and more OREO’s if desired.

Borrowed from – http://www.simplydesigning.net/

 

Down the Shore by T. Torrest – Media Blitz

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Down The ShoreBlurb:

Livia Chadwick is a photographer by day and a self-proclaimed rock slut by night.

Her dating life is a lackluster parade of evasive jerks and her boss is an unrelenting nightmare of a human being. What else can a girl do but rent a beach house with her girlfriends and blow off a little steam every weekend? But hey, she’s from Jersey. Barhopping down the shore all season is sort of mandatory. All is going according to plan… until she meets Jack.

Jack Tanner is a contractor-turned-musician in a small-town cover band suddenly thrust into the limelight. He’s already had enough of the rock-and-roll lifestyle, and groupies have never been his thing. Then again… there’s a gorgeous brunette in the audience tonight, checking him out with the most incredible green eyes he’s ever seen.

She’s looking for a fling.
He’s looking for forever.

It’s gonna be one helluva summer.

Set in the summer of 1995, Down the Shore takes the reader on a tour through some of the Jersey shore’s hottest hot spots over one, sleepless, flannel-clad summer. It’s a look back to a time when the music was groundbreaking, the rock clubs were king, and bar bands ruled the world. Read when you’re in the mood for: something light, funny, romantic, beachy, and nostalgic. For ages 18+.

***Not recommended for anyone under the age of 18.***

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Buy: 

Amazon


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Excerpt:

Jack’s lips purse together, as if he’s literally trying to bite his tongue. Instead, his eyelids lower to half-mast as he says, “You’re not so tough, you know. You try to put up this big front, but your act is pretty transparent.”

I put a hand to my hip. “What the hell is that supposed to mean? I’m not putting on an act.”

“Sure you are. This whole groupie thing you’ve got going on. I’m not buying it.”

“I wasn’t trying to sell it.”

At that, he cracks a small smile, and it makes me feel more vulnerable than had I been standing there completely naked. You know, kind of like how he almost is. Continue reading

Southern Traditions – Tea

Today my choice of tea is Celestial Country Peach served in a beautiful china teacup and saucer that I picked up on a trip. The cup has magnolia flowers on it.

I am really enjoying the fruit teas by Celestial Seasonings.

 

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Bridges of Paris by Michael Saint James – Review 5 stars

 

Book Details:

Book Title: Bridges of Paris by Michael Saint James
Category:  Adult Non-fiction,  280 pages
Genre: Travel Photography
Publisher: Citron Bay Press
Published: May 1, 2015
Available in: Print
Will send books: Internationally
Tour dates: April 13 to May 8, 2015
Content Rating: G

Book Description:


Bridges of Paris is a large-format coffee-table book, with over 350 original color photographs, which casts new illumination on the City of Light. The 37 bridges over the Seine River emerge as beautiful, historic destinations rather than unnoticed thoroughfares. The book features stunning portraits of each bridge as well as intimate riverside moments. Once you’ve experienced this river tour, you will never see Paris the same way again.

Living as a Parisian for a year, author Michael Saint James left his American lifestyle and spent his days and nights capturing images from over, on, beside and under the bridges of Paris. With over 30 years experience as a photographer, educator and world traveler, Michael immersed himself in French culture to search out his authentic artist self. The result is a visual treasure to share with everyone.

​About the author:
 
​Michael Saint James’ artistic pursuits include award-winning book design, film editing, and sound recording, as well as his first love, photography. Saint James is a world traveler, having visited more than 50 countries – doing everything from photographing penguins in Antarctica to trekking the Himalayas.As an educator with California teaching credentials, he has taught media production and technology arts as well as photography, art history and visual storytelling. He is an expert speaker on Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. Indeed, he walked in Vincent Van Gogh’s footsteps through the Netherlands, Belgium, and France in order to immerse himself in that troubled master’s vision.The father of two grown children, Saint James once owned a café in Berkeley, California. He has bicycled from Las Vegas to Washington, D.C. and is rumored to play a mean blues harmonica.

Connect with Michael:  Website

My Review – 
Bridges of Paris is a magnificant book. It is filled with beautiful colorful photographs. Bridges have always held a fascination for me and this book has been a joy to sit and thumb through. The wonderful stories and history of the bridges added to the fascination of the book.
It was a wonderful journey to be able to view the bridges throughout the different seasons of the year and times of the day.  The layout of the book made it extremely easy to navigate as each bridge had its own section in the book according to where it was located in Paris – Palace bridges, Island Bridges, Upstream and Downstream bridges. I also enjoyed the satelite photos showing exactly where the bridge is located. I love maps and have a great courosity as to where things are located and this was a real plus for me to have this added bonus.
The photos show detail of the bridges that might otherwise go unnoticed. The photographs were of such quality and clarity that I was able to sit and study each photograph at length. By the time I completed the book, I felt that I had been to Paris.
Bridges of Paris is a beautiful book and worth everyone of five stars.
Tour Schedule:
 

April 13 – Readers’ Muse – review / giveaway
April 13 – Girl With Camera – review
April 13 – Library of Clean Reads – review / giveaway
April 14 – Bound 4 Escape – review / author interview / giveaway
April 14 – Seaside Book Nook – review / giveaway
April 15 – Breath of Life – review / guest post / giveaway
April 15 – Bluerose’s Heart – review / giveaway
April 16 – Bless Their Hearts Mom – review / author interview / giveaway
April 16 – 3 Partners in Shopping – review / giveaway
April 17 – Roughseaseinthemed – review / author interview
April 20 – Lavish Bookshelf – review / giveaway
April 20 – Minnesota Girl in the World – review
April 21 – My Life. One Story at a Time – review / giveaway
April 21 – Hello, my name is Alice – review / author interview
April 22 – She Treads Softly – review
April 22 – Life With Katie – review / giveaway
April 23 – Posting for Now – review / giveaway
April 23 – View From the Birdhouse – review / giveaway
April 24 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – review / guest post / giveaway
April 24 – Working Mommy Journal – review / giveaway
April 27 – Psychotic State Book Reviews – review / guest post / giveaway
April 27 – TW Brown on zombies, Border Collies, and the Indie Writing Scene – review / author interview
April 28 – Griperang’s Bookmarks – review / guest post / giveaway
April 29 – Chic Toronto – review
April 30 – Reading Authors – review / giveaway
May 1 – The Bookish & The Romantic – review / author interview / giveaway
May 4 – Svetlana’s Reads and Views – review 
May 5 – Impressions in Ink – review
May 6 – One Frugal Girl – review / giveaway
May 7 – Words and Peace – review / giveaway
May 7 – BooksatVioletCrush – review
May 8 – Create With Joy – review