Monday, September 18, 2017

Favorite Recipe: Eggless Sugar Cookies

What do you do when you don’t have vanilla extract? Obviously, you make eggless sugar cookies...

Today, I’m here to talk about another one of my favorite recipes to use. And let me tell, this is a versatile recipe—more on that later. So, what are eggless cookies? Obviously, cookies that don’t use egg but are still delicious anyway. I’ve had my fair share of hit and misses, but I’ve narrowed my collection down to a few recipes that work the best for me. The one I’m talking about today is: Fluffy Eggless Sugar Cookies (Breathtaking Delicacies).

Since this is kind of a smaller batch of cookies, I typically double the recipe. It’s also incredibly easy to make, which is great because I love making food—particularly breads and desserts—that don’t require too much time. Hence, this recipe will always be one of my favorites.

I’ve made it a bunch of ways including substituting the butter for margarine or Crisco, and adding things like chocolate chips, raisins, and chopped nuts—sometimes all three at once. I also use the milk interchangeably with just regular old water. The most recent batch I made didn’t actually involve any vanilla extractor butter, because, as it just so happened, we were out of those two ingriedients. So, I went ahead and made the cookies anyway using margarine, extra water to make up for the lack of vanilla, 1 tsp of cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp of nutmeg to give the cookies some flavor. They turned out just fine. The edges were crisp, the top was crinkled with cracks, while the inside was light and fluffy. Honestly, I didn’t even miss the vanilla extract since the flavor was vaguely cinnamon roll-ish. It was the best result I could have hoped for, because you never know what the outcome will be once you start tinkering with a recipe.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Cover Reveal Blitz & Giveaway: Haven by Mary Lindsey


Today Mary Lindsey and Rockstar Book Tours are revealing the cover for Haven, which releases November 7, 2017! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to win an ARC! On to the reveal! 



Title: HAVEN
Author: Mary Lindsey
Pub. Date: November 7, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 400

Synopsis...

Sometimes beauty is the beast…

"We all hold a beast inside. The only difference is what form it takes when freed."

Rain Ryland has never belonged anywhere. He’s used to people judging him for his rough background, his intimidating size, and now, his orphan status. He’s always been on the outside, looking in, and he’s fine with that. Until he moves to New Wurzburg and meets Friederike Burkhart. Freddie isn’t like normal teen girls, though. And someone wants her dead for it. Freddie warns he’d better stay far away if he wants to stay alive, but Rain’s never been good at running from trouble. For the first time, Rain has something worth fighting for, worth living for. Worth dying for...
Early Praise...

"Dangerous, dark and a definite page turner. Mary Lindsey rocks this book.”
- New York Times bestselling author C.C. Hunter

“A smoking hot hero and spine-chilling mystery = total win.”
- #1 New York Times bestselling author, Jennifer L. Armentrout

"This electrifying tale will take you on an unexpected journey into a secret world of witchcraft and shape shifters. Romance, adventure, and magic! Lindsey leaves you breathless and wanting more."
- Adriana Mather, #1 New York Times bestselling author of How to Hang a Witch

"This is not your mama's paranormal! Sexy, dark and intense. Unputdownable!"
- Sophie Jordan, New York Times bestselling author of Firelight

"Lindsey writes a hero with fire and gasoline. Then she lights a match with break-neck pacing, and scorches a path to readers' hearts. Don't blink for a moment."
- Victoria Scott, bestselling author of Fire & Flood

"Gripping and gritty, HAVEN had me glued to the pages from beginning to end! Rain is the best kind of hero -- tough, sexy, sweet, loyal. He charges through this action-packed tale that had me tearing up more than once, and I was perfectly happy to follow!"
- Pintip Dunn, New York Times bestselling author of Forget Tomorrow.

"An utterly gritty and satisfying resurrection of the monster genre.Rain is an intense narrator and you won't know whether to scream or swoon. Haven is an instant classic!"
- Courtney Moulton, author of Angelfire

"Darkly compelling and deliciously chilling, Haven hooks you from the first line and never lets up. Gritty, spine-tingling, and full of nail-biting tension.”
- Amalie Howard, bestselling author of Bloodspell

"Dark, different, sexy, and edge-of-your-seat intense."
- Shawna Stringer, bookseller

Mary Lindsey is a multi award-winning, RITA® nominated author of romance for adults and teens. She lives on an island in the middle of a river. Seriously, she does. When not writing, she wrangles her rowdy pack of three teens, two Cairn Terriers, and one husband.

Inexplicably, her favorite animal is the giant anteater and at one point, she had over 200 "pet" Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. The roaches are a long story involving three science-crazed kids and a soft spot for rescue animals. The good news is, the "pet" roaches found a home... somewhere else.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest |  Goodreads
5 winners will receive an ARC of HAVEN, US Only.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Review: Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Defy the Stars (Constellation, #1)Title: Defy the Stars
Author: Claudia Gray
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Little Brown Books For Young Readers; April 4, 2017
Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

She’s a soldier.

Noemi Vidal is seventeen years old and sworn to protect her planet, Genesis. She’s willing to risk anything—including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she’s a rebel.

He’s a machine.

Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel has advanced programming that’s begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he’s an abomination.

Noemi and Abel are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they’re not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they’re forced to question everything they’d been taught was true.
I haven’t read a book by Claudia Gray in years. The last book I recall was Evernight, and I read that back before I started blogging. So I was eager to try Defy the Stars since science fiction is one of my favorite genres to read, and I’d heard a lot of good things about it. It took me a couple of days to read Defy the Stars, but I wasn’t disappointed by the story. Actually, Defy the Stars is now one of my favorite books.

You know, there are stories that deal with traveling from one place to another. Those types of stories can go either way for me. I’m specifically talking about ones that take place in space. Defy the Stars is one of the good ones. There was a lot of travel, but I kind of appreciated that because it gave the characters an adequate chance to get to know one another.

Defy the Stars was about an interstellar war with a daring plan. So there were battles, space ships, intelligent machines, and an interesting take on how technology would potentially advance in a future setting. I was expecting that. However, there were some things brought up in Defy the Stars that were almost like a mirror to current society. Especially how the stability of the environment is taken for granted. So, there was a moral conundrum going on that played into the philosophical element of the story. I wasn't expecting the philosophical aspects, but I liked how it actively challenged the characters and their way of thinking. It called their beliefs into question, and put them in situations where they had to take a second look at what they knew about the worlds they called home. It was an interesting direction to take the story, and it ultimately paid off.

I liked the main characters, Noemi and Abel. There was a clear difference between the two, and not just because of their respective allegiances. She was an ordinary person, and he was a Mech. Putting the two of them together in the same environment was entertaining, to say the least.

All that being said, the beginning was exceptionally good but my favorite part of the book didn’t happen until the later chapters. The end was phenomenal, and I’m excited to see where Gray takes the story in the sequel, Defy the Worlds.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Thought Corner: Canson Watercolor Paper

Campany: Canson 
Type of paper: Watercolor
Source: Purchased

Other info: 140lb; 300g
Size: 9in X 12in
Number of sheets: 30


More information:

Ideal for watercolor, acrylic, ink, and other wet techniques. Surface sizing to control absorbency. Durable surface allows for reworking. 
Today, I have a different kind of review to share on the blog. I'm going to be talking about one of my recent purchases: Canson Watercolor Paper. The example I’m going to be using for this post are from a page of birds that I painted on August 16th, 2017. Birds are actually sort of one of my weaknesses, and usually I'll draw quick simplified ones that don't require much of anything at all. I had a lot of fun with this page; although, I feel like I could have done a little better with the Christmas Robin. But it is what it is. Luckily, I'm only using the pelican as a example. The European Robin is just the sad bird that hangs out in the corner of a couple of the pictures.

Some things to know...

  • Like with any paper, you really have to test it out for yourself to see what works best for you. This post is my opinion based off of my experience.
  • Price was fair for thirty individual sheets.
  • I used Reeves Watercolor paint for these paintings.

Canson is a brand that came highly recommended—thanks Adri—and I was eager to try their watercolor paper for myself. Here's what it essentially looks like. Outward appearance is pretty normal for what you would expect from watercolor paper. The size is also pretty standard when compared to what I've used before.

However, that being said, I do like the interior design. When you open the cover it’s not directly attached to the paper, so you can fold it back and have it out of the way. I found that to be incredibly useful since my desk has a very limited surface space left over between my laptop and art supplies. This feature is particularly useful when I don't necessarily want to take the page off of the stack.

Now, the paper is basically the selling feature. I've used 90lb cold press, and let me tell you it's nothing like the 140lb. For one, the latter is a lot sturdier. Two, I liked the way the paint dried. Reeves already has a matte finish, but between this paper and the one I was using, Canson was noticeably smoother. Three, it handled the water well. It does warp under heavy saturation, but if you have tape around the edges it'll be fine. And four, reworking top layers of paint is easy.

The progress of the Pelican from left to right...

The progress of the pelican shows what I mean about the potential for reworking. This is the only bird I didn't work on continuously. I set it aside for a least an hour before returning and it was easy to get right back to smoothing out some of the edges—particularly in the brown and blue areas along the head, neck, and wing.



 =   
(Finished pelican was touched up with a bit of white Sakura Gelly Roll gel pen around the blue part beneath the brown of the beak.)

Overall, I‘m really happy with this paper and will be buying more from this brand in the future. One more thing: Puffins are now my favorite bird. They’re adorable. I didn't get the progress of the puffins on camera, but I wanted to post them anyway. So, here are a pair of bonus Puffins. If you look in the corner of the picture on the left, the European Robin makes another very small appearance, LOL...

Have you tried any of Canson's paper? If so, tell me about your experience in the comments down below. And if not, would this be something you would be interested in? Or what is u our favorite type of watercolor paper.

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Friday 56 (113) & Book Beginnings: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE
Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.
30095464Synopsis from Goodreads...

The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer...

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human. Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves...
Beginnings: "Let me be clear: I never intended to raise my brother from his grave, though he may claim otherwise."

56: "Unfortunately, the oracle had something very different in mind with me."
Comments: Once again I'm late to the party. The Bone Witch has been on my radar since it came out back in March, and now that I've read it I can say that it's one of the best books I've read this year. My beginning is from chapter one since it's one of my favorite lines from the book.

Whats one book that you've recently read and enjoyed?

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Review: Women in Sports: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played To Win by Rachel Ignotofsky

Women In Sports: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played to WinTitle: Women In Sports: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played to Win
Author: Rachel Ignotofsky
Source/Format: Blogging for Books; Hardcover
More Details: Nonfiction; Sports
Publisher/Publication Date: Ten Speed Press; July 18, 2017
Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

Women in Sports highlights notable women's contributions to competitive athletics to inspire readers young and old. Keeping girls interested in sports has never been more important: research suggests that girls who play sports get better grades and have higher self-esteem--but girls are six times more likely to quit playing sports than boys and are unlikely to see female athlete role models in the media. A fascinating collection full of striking, singular art, Women in Sports features 50 profiles and illustrated portraits of women athletes from the 1800s to today including trailblazers, Olympians, and record-breakers in more than 40 different sports. The book also contains infographics about relevant topics such as muscle anatomy, a timeline of women's participation in sports, statistics about women in athletics, and influential female teams...

 Last year, I had the chance to receive a copy of Women in Science for review, and it ended up being one of my favorite reads of 2016. And now, Rachel Ignotofsky has released a new book, Women in Sports. I'm excited to talk about about this book since it's my latest nonfiction read, and it deals with sports. By the way, I don't follow sports like that. I'm more of a casual observer, but it's nice to know more about those who are considered pioneers in their respective sport—at least by nameand Women in Sports does just that.

Like Ignotofsky’s last book, Women in Sports was comprised of 50 profiles of women who excel at what they do. It included names like Serena Williams, Simone Biles, Danica Patrick, Kelly Clarke, Althea Gibson, Kristi Yamaguchi, and many others that I wasn't familiar with. The profiles are relatively short with a page of illustrations and another with a neat summary of early life and crowning/breakthrough moments. I honestly didn't mind because I went into this book expecting summaries. That being said, Women in Sports introduced me to a lot of women athletes that I'd honestly never heard of before. Another thing I want to mention was the overall design of this book. I loved it. The pages were colorful and covered in illustrations specifically tailored to the subject of each profile. I also liked the fact that there were a couple of other things added to this book like a chart on muscle anatomy and a timeline of when major accomplishments were made by various female athletes. Some of my other favorite profiles included:
  • Anita Defrantz (Rower and Athletic Administrator)
  • Deng Yaping (Ping Pong Player) (Professional ping pong is intense. Don't believe me? Look up some of Deng Yaping's matches on youtube). 
  • Gertude Ederle (Distance Swimmer)
  • Ashley Fiolek (Motorcross Rider)
  • and Melissa Stockell (Paratriathhlete)
Overall, Women in Sports is a good reference book and I look forward to Ignotofsky’s future work. I’m definitely going to keep this one on my shelf.
This copy of the book was provided by Blogging for Books for this review.
About the author...

Rachel Ignotofsky grew up in New Jersey on a healthy diet of cartoons and pudding. She graduated with honors from Tyler School of Art’s graphic design program in 2011. Now she lives in beautiful Kansas City, Missouri, where she spends all day drawing and learning as much as she can. She has a passion for taking dense information and making it fun and accessible and is dedicated to creating educational works of art. Rachel is inspired by history and science and believes that illustration is a powerful tool that can make learning exciting. She uses her work to spread her message about education, scientific literacy, and powerful women. She hopes this book inspires girls and women to follow their passions and dreams...

Monday, August 28, 2017

Music Monday (30): Black Eyed Peas, Disclosure and Lion Babe

   Rules:
  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 

Breana: Lately, I’ve gone back and listened to a lot of favorite songs that I haven’t thought of in years. The last time I participated in Music Monday, I talked about Rock Angelz. Well, from there, I’ve gone back to Monkey Business by Black Eyed Peas, Lincoln Park, Christina Agulara, and even Gwen Stefani. Anyway, I’m here to talk about The Black Eyed Peas. Back in 2005 Monkey Business was my go-to music. No playlist, just the album. It’s hard to believe that Monkey Business has been out for twelve years already. My first pick is Disco Club. To this day, Disco club still has one of the catchiest beats I’ve ever heard. There’s something kind of groovy about this song. I love it.


 My second pick is Don’t Lie. After all these years, Don't Lie is still one of my favorite songs from the Monkey Business Album.

Adri:I have a small confession. There are moments in time that I don’t listen to music, at least not like that. When start listening to music again, the first thing I put in the search bar is my pick for Music Mondays: Hourglass by Disclosure featuring Lion Babe. Not only do I love this song but when I found it, I also found a new artist.

What are you listening to this week?

Friday, August 25, 2017

Album Review: Dark Matter by Les Friction

Title: Dark Matter
Band/Artist(s): Les Friction (Even Frankfort, Helmet Vonlichten, Paint), also Featuring Emily Valentine and Laura Fabian
Source/Format: Les Friction; CD
Label/ Release date: Moriposa Lane Music, INC/ Would Work Sound LLC; August 25, 2017

OfficialSite Bandcamp     Itunes     Spotify       Amazon      CDbaby

I first heard of Les Friction in an epic music compilation. This was a few years ago when I first began listening to this genre of music. Like any music junkie, I’ve checked to see if new music was on the horizon. My day lit up when I saw the tweet announcing Dark Matter was coming out.

Not only did this album meet my expectations, it exceeded them. Every millisecond is perfect, starting with Your World Will Fail. This song starts calm and then changes about midway. At this point it morphs into something more, resulting in a pleasant mix of instrumentals and vocals. Other songs including Who Will Save You Now, Dark Matter, and Firewall seems to follow this pattern somewhat too. Obviously, like any album, Dark Matter has calm moments too. I Remember and You Always Knew add a touch of sincere tranquility. These two duets with Emily Valentine and Laura Fabian, respectively, occasionally misted my eyes. The album ended with Kashmir (which is a cover of a song by Led Zeppelin); the only thing I can say is that it is the perfect way to end an album.

Due to the fact that each track was diverse in sound and lyric, the whole album maintained a certain aesthetic. Not one felt out of place. Actually, a host of emotions were elicited as I listened to each song. I’m not even sure they are nameble. To put it simply, it’s like finding that perfectly tailored dress. I love it!


I recieved this CD from Les Fricition for this review.
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