Review: Howl for It by Shelly Laurenston and Cynthia Eden

Format: Trade Paperback, ebook
Pub Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Kensington Brava
Length: 315 pages
FTC: ARC courtesy of the publisher

I'm weird, but anything with less than 3 stories in one book does not qualify as an anthology for me. It's a two-in-one book (duology?). The first story is the one that really piqued my interest, having become what can only be described as a squeeing fangirl of Shelly Laurenston's books. Her humor just does it for me, but I was curious how she could turn the scariest, most violent character in her series into a hero. We find out in this prequel novella, Like a Wolf with a Bone.

Egbert Ray Smith is one scary guy. Even his own family is leery of him and the ease with which he takes life. But he is also very protective, and those protective instincts take center stage when he saves the youngest Lewis sister, Darla Mae, from an attack. And once he has her in his care, he's reluctant to let her go. Darla, a pastry chef for a ritzy shifter restaurant, is intrigued by this taciturn wolf who is at ease with violence.


The Most Stubborn Fire in the Known Universe

 (Smoke plume, taken by me last week.)

For those who haven't been following the incessant tweets, retweets, links I've been posting on Twitter, here's what's going on: We have one gigantic fire in our area. I am safe, aside from the horrific air quality that has forced everyone to stay indoors since the fire began at the end of last month.

Firefighters are having a heck of a time stopping the north-eastern spread of the fire. And that means it's burned up to the shores of a very popular reservoir camping area and is headed towards some small (I mean tiny) towns. If you are in Northern Nevada or Northern California, you're likely being impacted by the smoke from this fire. It has now burned more than 70 square miles.

Review: Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pub Date: May 2011
Publisher: Avon (Harper Collins)
Length: 374 pages
FTC: Purchased myself

I haven't really loved a Julia Quinn book since somewhere in the middle of the Bridgerton series.  I detested Eloise, Francesca, and Gregory's stories, and was apathetic about most of those novels that came after the series' end. At best, they were fun but forgettable.

Then came Ten Things I Love About You. It is what I consider a turning point for Julia Quinn's writing. Where she gave up any pretense of writing with depth and just churned out cutesy, polished writing with superficial characters and superficial emotion. Deciding to give her one last try, I picked up Just Like Heaven after letting it linger in the TBR for a year. The lingering was on purpose, because I suspected I would be disappointed. Sadly, I was correct.


Recipe: Lemon Yogurt Cake

This is my favorite pick-me-up recipe that doesn't involve chocolate. It has a bright, strong lemon flavor, a spongy, firm texture, and slices beautifully.  This cake received a Best of Division at the county fair least week (I'm totally bragging).  It is that good.

Recipe by Ina Garten. My commentary and adjustments are in italics. Photo is my own.

Lemon Yogurt Cake by Ina Garten

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons) (Microplanes are a godsend!)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice


Summer in the Mountains

We've been really lucky this year that the fire season has held off. Winter was short and dry, with no snow pack and very little rain.

Our luck ran out  last week, with not one, but TWO fires in our National Forest. One was to the east and quickly contained. The other, with the smoke plume shown here, is currently out of control and burning in a steep, windy canyon about 20 miles west of our little town.

The smoke is so bad that it is affecting the Central Valley of California and Northern Nevada, too.

We have some terrific wildland firefighters out west. And already, we're seeing crews from Nevada and all over California heading in to fight this fire. I'm hoping they get a handle on this quickly, because when the smoke settles in the valleys at night, it's like breathing mud. *fingers crossed*