PUBLISHING INFO: Aphrodisia, 12/31/2013
GENRE: Historical Erotic Fiction
SETTING: England, 1827
SERIES: The Sinners Club, book 1

From Publisher: It’s known as the Sinners Club…a private gentlemen’s club whose members have mysterious pasts and secret fantasies too hot to reveal…

Unsure of his reception, Jack Lennox adopts the guise of his own secretary upon returning to his ancestral home to claim his father's earldom. When he arrives, he's stunned to discover the previous earl's lovely young widow, a woman of beguiling curves and sensual smiles, warming the bed...

Mary Lennox is determined to remain in Pinchbeck Hall and a mere secretary isn't going to tell her otherwise. But Jack Smith is a man of many talents and soon she's succumbing to his erotic games of pleasure. Only Mary may have underestimated the intensity of her wanton longings and the depths of Jack's dark desires...

Author's Note: This book is about Jack Lennox who you met first in Simply Scandalous (House of Pleasure, book 9).

MY THOUGHTS: I should start by saying that I don't feel this should be marketed as romance. I loved it for what it was- erotica, predominately m/m, which is the type of erotica I like best. This book is the start of a new series that's a lot like her previous House of Pleasure series. The novel is chock full of dark and graphic sexual goodness that practically oozes off the pages. There are more than ten sex scenes and only a few of them are m/f.

I liked the plot line a lot. It certainly held my interest, even without the sex. Mary and Simon are as close as almost life-long friends can be. They've been through a whole lot together and they're still going through stuff when they meet Jack. Jack's put a wrench in their plans, uncovers lies and things start to take a downward turn for them. He uncovers who they really are, learns of their not so great past, and it's very interesting, especially the bit near the end involving Mary. It's a WTF moment and I loved it!

Things about his dead uncle, who is Mary's husband, come to light and it ain't pretty folks.  I can't wait to read more about all three of them in future books, assuming they'll be in them.

There's an ebook-only prequel to this called The First Sinners. Same review here.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


coreyPUBLISHER: St. Martin's Press, 10/2013
GENRE: Nonfiction/Memoir

FROM PUBLISHER: Lovable child star by age ten, international teen idol by fifteen, and to this day a perennial pop-culture staple, Corey Feldman has not only spent the entirety of his life in the spotlight, he's become just as famous for his off-screen exploits as for his roles in such classic films as Gremlins, The Goonies, and Stand by Me. He's been linked to a slew of Hollywood starlets (including Drew Barrymore, Vanessa Marcil, and adult entertainer Ginger Lynn), shared a highly publicized friendship with Michael Jackson, and with his frequent costar Corey Haim enjoyed immeasurable success as one half of the wildly popular duo "The Two Coreys," spawning seven films, a 1-900 number, and "Coreymania" in the process. What child of the eighties didn't have a Corey Feldman poster hanging in her bedroom, or a pile of Tiger Beats stashed in his closet?

Now, in this brave and moving memoir, Corey is revealing the truth about what his life was like behind the scenes: His is a past that included physical, drug, and sexual abuse, a dysfunctional family from which he was emancipated at age fifteen, three high-profile arrests for drug possession, a nine-month stint in rehab, and a long, slow crawl back to the top of the box office.

MY THOUGHTS: What a dark book and a bad childhood. Corey (born 1971) came from an abusive family complete with mentally ill, drug-using mother. He didn't interview either parent for this, which is disappointing but understandable since he doesn't have much of a relationship with them. I'd like to know what they think of his being molested and given drugs by grown men, beginning when he was just thirteen. Until he was emancipated at fifteen his parents spent his money as if it was their own. It makes me angry that an adult could spend a child's money.

Being verbally and physically abused by his parents and grandfather, molested by a few grown men, and teased and taunted by classmates when he actually went to regular school likely led to his drug use and two suicide attempts as a teenager. I don't think he mentioned whether or not he's ever gone to therapy. If he has I'd have liked to have read about what they discussed and the therapists' advice and such. The book is just shy of 300 pages and I feel like more could have been said on certain topics and the things I've just mentioned could have been added.

Being a watcher of porn I want to mention that when Corey was fifteen porn actress Ginger Lynn gave him a blow job in her Porsche- she was twenty-four.

He mentioned his friend and fellow actor Corey Haim (born 1971) quite a bit. Corey H. was molested at eleven and had been on a downward spiral since. He became a very heavy drug user I think after being molested again by a man when he was fourteen, during the filming of the movie Lucas. He was extremely hyperactive and hypersexual and even tried to have sex with Corey Feldman a few times.

Now for the negative: He didn't mention how he got into acting, didn't mention if he even enjoyed it or if he does it still because it's what he's done for most of his life. He gave a vague reason for why his second marriage ended (lack of trust). I don't see how you can talk about something as personal as being molested yet not mention much about your marriage or the woman you were married to. He didn't mention when and why he became vegetarian. He told us that sex acts were preformed on him as a teen by a few men but never once said whether he preformed them on others. I found that a bit odd but I'm going to assume he did those things and didn't want that mentioned. How do you write a book about yourself, mention that your mother hated your nose and said it 'wouldn't stop growing' (as she held him down) and never once mention your two nose jobs? I had to learn that here. Most importantly he didn't give a reason for why he never told his parents, directors, other cast mates, or the police, that he was being molested.

I like reading about the darker side of life so needless to say I enjoyed this book. Yes, it could have been a bit better and more detailed in some areas. I hope he writes a follow-up book in the future.

Here's an interview with him from October 2013 to promote the book.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

ONE BOWL BAKING: Simple, From Scratch Recipes for Delicious Desserts by Yvonne Ruperti With Book Trailer

one bowlPUB. INFO: Running Press, 9/2013
FORMAT: Trade Paperback and E-book
ISBN: 9780762448951

From Publisher: Yvonne Ruperti, recipe developer extraordinaire, will tempt readers into the kitchen with a uniquely simplified approach to baking. In this one-of-a-kind recipe collection, Yvonne shows how to create beautiful, delicious, and wholesome desserts from scratch using just one bowl. No mixer, no food processor. It’s for anyone looking for the ease and convenience of box mix baking, but with quality ingredients and gourmet results. Best of all, practically all of the recipes are mixed and in the oven in just 15 minutes or less. That’s it! Layer cakes, cookies, muffins, scones, tarts, cheesecakes, and more!

Table of Contents: Muffins and Scones, Cookies, Bar Cookies, Cupcakes, Snack Cakes, Quick Breads/Pound Cakes/Bundt Cakes/Tube Cakes, Party Cakes, Cheesecakes and Tarts, Pudding Cakes, Upside Down Cakes and More.

Images below came from inside the book.

apple barsAPPLE CRISP BARS: I love apples, hadn't baked with them in a while, so was anxious to make these. These bars have a simple thin crust that doubles as the topping which gets sprinkled on top of thinly sliced apples.

I don't really like the brown sugar in these so next time I'll use powdered or white sugar. I was worried about the apples not cooking completely, though they're sliced very very thin, so here's what I did- I put the sliced apples on a large plate and microwaved them for four minutes (my microwave is very low watt), put them back into the mixing bowl, stirred in cinnamon and sugar then spread the almost-completely-cooked apples on the crust, topped with remaining crumb mixture then baked them. I saved myself some baking time by precooking the apples. I also made half the recipe in an 8" square pan and used two large apples.

Make sure you let the bars cool in the foil-lined pan completely before lifting them out. The bottom crust will bend and crack unless it's cooled. I didn't like the bottom crust at all because the brown sugar was really noticeable and absorbed the moisture from the apples. Though the topping is the same mixture as the crust, it got sprinkled on top of the apples and got really crunchy, as all crumb toppings do, and you'd have never known it was the same as the bottom crust. I will definitely use the filling and topping again for these but use a different bottom crust recipe. I've used apples a lot for baking but never have I sliced them thinly for quicker cooking, nor have I ever thought to. I learned that from this book. Grade: B

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE MUFFINS: These turned out pretty as a picture. They baked up nicely and were crackle-topped. They're cake-like. I made half and got seven. The batter uses oil so the batter is thin. I used a 1/4 c. dry measuring cup to scoop out the batter. That's the amount of batter I always use when making cupcakes and muffins in a standard size pan. They baked in about 14 minutes.

I don't think they were quite sweet enough so next time I'll add a few more tablespoons of sugar, maybe brown sugar. I used mini semi-sweet chocolate chips and used slightly less than called for. You can use however many you'd like and they can be omitted too. They were slightly dry so I'll try checking them after sooner next time. The batter was slightly bitter and the first few baked muffins I ate were slightly bitter but that seems to have gone away somehow. Research told me that can happen when a recipe has too much baking powder in it. I'll use less next time.

Though these could be improved upon I like them (they remind me of a similar muffin recipe I use) and how they look. I know with the changes I'll make they'll be even better. Grade: B+

coffee cakeSOUR CREAM COFFEE CAKE WITH WALNUT STREUSEL: I hadn't made a cake like this in several years so was happy to try this one. I made half the recipe in a lined 8 1/2"L x 6 1/2" W x 1 3/4"D pan and it baked in 32 minutes. The batter filled it 2/3 of the way and the cake baked up almost level with the top of the pan. The top was flat, just like in the photo. I used less brown sugar in the streusel topping than called for, omitted the cocoa, and instead of adding chopped walnuts to the streusel, I added 1/2 c. ground toasted almonds to the cake batter. I dumped the streusel on top and swirled it all through the batter with a butter knife. I also made a thicker powdered sugar glaze for the top using 1 T. melted butter, 1/8 t. each vanilla extract and almond extract, 3/4 c. powdered sugar and a little water. I spread it on the cake while it was slightly warm.

The cake has good flavor but wasn't as moist as I'd though it would/should be, since it has a good bit of sour cream in it. The butter flavor was mild, which is how I like it. The top of the cake is really firm from the brown sugar/cinnamon on it but the glaze softened it up. I will make this again and use a 9 1/2" round pan that I have. Grade: B

MOCAHOLIC HOT FUDGE PUDDING CAKE: I've got lots of experience with pudding cake, which is just chocolate cake with a mixture of cocoa, sugar, and water poured over the top of the batter. The cake bakes up and the liquid you've poured on top ends up in the bottom, thickened slightly, and makes 'pudding'. I've been making two different ones for exactly seven years. I've never made one that used egg yolk (or whole egg) so I was curious about this.

I love chocolate and I know that a little bit of unsweetened cocoa powder goes a really long way so read on. I used less than half the cocoa in the cake (I cut back by 5 T.) and omitted the chopped bittersweet chocolate. The recipe as written would have been so bitter you couldn't have eaten it and with the addition of 1/3 c. bittersweet chocolate, too much. The cake part wasn't quite sweet enough so I'll add a few extra tablespoons of sugar next time.

The pudding mixture (water, cocoa, sugar) that you pour on top of the cake calls for entirely too much sugar and cocoa, so much so that I had to shake my head in disbelief. I used the amount of cocoa and sugar that I always use in other pudding cake recipes since this used the same amount of liquid. I used water instead of coffee, since I don't like coffee. I cut back on the cocoa and used 1 1/2 T., not 8 T., and 1/4 c. sugar, not 3/4 c. as called for. Know too that white and brown sugar are interchangeable in the pudding part of this. I added the sugar and cocoa powder to the measuring cup, combined, then filled it with lukewarm water, stirred very well to dissolve the cocoa and sugar and poured it over the top. I didn't sprinkle the combined cocoa and sugar over the top then pour the water over it as told to do. I think it's best to pour the completely dissolved, combined mixture over the cake.

To sum it up I used a grand total of 11 1/2 T. (that's almost 3/4 c.) less unsweetened cocoa than told to and 1/2 c. less sugar.

I baked it in an oval 2 1/2 quart dish for 25 minutes. The top puffed a bit and had long cracks in it and looked very nice. I always eat pudding cake with vanilla ice cream. I can say that with the changes I made to this, it's a very good recipe with better tasting cake than the previous ones I'd made. This will be my go-to pudding cake. Grade: A-

CINNAMON SUGAR SNICKERDOODLES: This is the fourth snickerdoodle recipe I've tried this year. This cookie usually has cream of tartar in the dough and is always rolled in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Every one I've ever tried has tasted the same and has had the same somewhat dry texture. This one looks and tastes like the others I've tried. The cookie is a bit puffy, even after flattening the dough balls and banging the pan of fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies on the countertop to deflate them. I'm not happy about the thickness of this cookie though it still tastes very good. Perhaps it has too much baking powder in them. Most don't use baking powder.

I made half and got 20 cookies. I used a 1 1/2" diameter cookie scoop and they baked in just 8 minutes at a lower temperature. I used far less sugar than specified. I used 1/3 c., not 3/4 c. I think I'll stick to a different recipe that I like slightly better. Grade: B

SOFT AND CHEWY SUGAR COOKIES: I'm very pleased with this recipe! The cookies look good and taste great. They use both melted butter and vegetable oil, which is a bit different for a cookie, as most use softened butter, sometimes shortening. I used a couple tablespoons less sugar and that was perfect.

I made half the recipe and used a 1 1/2" diameter cookie scoop. The cookies baked up to be about 2 3/4" in diameter and baked in 8 minutes at a lower temperature. They were slightly crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. I like mine a bit more crisp on the outside so I'll bake them a minute longer next time, possibly two extra minutes. Half yielded 16 cookies.

Weeks later I baked the other half for two minutes longer and they were perfectly crisp outside and firmer inside, not soft at all. I made the full batch at a later date and got 26 cookies. I divided the dough in half, added lemon extract to half then rolled them in sugar. I rolled the other half in a mixture of cinnamon sugar. So for the full recipe I used 2/3 c. of sugar in the dough, not 1 c. plus 2 T.

I made a chocolate version of this. I left out three tablespoons of flour and substituted the same amount of unsweetened cocoa powder and added 1/4 c. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips. Like in the previous batch, I used 2/3 c. sugar, not over 1 cup. I got 29 cookies out of that batch using the same cookie scoop. They were nothing special.

I made a ground almond and dried cherry version of this that had almond extract in the dough. They were very good and will be made again. Another idea would be to use orange zest or extract and dried cranberries. Grade: A

ROCKY ROAD FUDGE CAKE: Very moist! I'm very happy about that. This tastes a lot like boxed Devil's Food cake and that's meant to be a compliment. The texture of the cake even looks and feels like it. As usual, I made half and used a foil-lined 8" square pan so I could lift the cake out of the pan to cut it. The cake baked in 19 minutes and filled the pan 3/4 of the way. I topped it with my own fudge frosting and 1/2 c. toasted chopped pecans and ate most of it with vanilla ice cream.

The recipe stated to use 6 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa for half the cake. I used 5, knowing that would still be too much and it was. The cake was slightly bitter. I omitted the chocolate chips. They would have been wasted in this cake. I put mini marshmallows in it but couldn't taste them, which is no big deal. I'll omit them too next time. Instead of adding nuts to the batter I sprinkled them on top of the fudge frosting. I should have used 1 1/2 eggs but used just one, making sure to beat it very well. The cake rose beautifully. I used half whipping cream (1/4 c.) instead of all milk because I had an open carton of cream I needed to use up.

I'm really impressed with this cake. A good from-scratch chocolate cake is extremely hard to find. I can only think of one other that's more moist than this. I will definitely make this cake over and over again and use just 3 T. of cocoa powder. Grade: A

SWEET STORY CUPCAKES WITH ALMOND FROSTING: This is a very good recipe. This cake is made with egg whites and maraschino cherries. For years I've been making a cake mix version of this (that's why I already had a jar of cherries on hand) and knew I'd make this one. I used my own frosting recipe which is almost identical to the one in the book.

The cake's not too sweet and is very moist. I made half and got seven cupcakes. I filled the cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full. They baked in 15 minutes. I didn't add walnuts to the batter but did add 2 T. ground toasted almonds. I omitted almond extract from the batter. Instead of chopped cherries I added about one heaping tablespoon of finely minced (in the food processor for about 3 seconds) maraschino cherries and used less vanilla extract. If you don't want to make frosting for this you should add a few tablespoons more sugar. You could also used maraschino juice in the frosting instead of almond extract and milk/water. Grade: A+

Update: I made this again for the second time on 10/13/18. I made the full recipe in a 9"x2" baking dish. It baked in 28 minutes. A used half the amount of vanilla and only 1/4 t. pure almond extract. The cake is good but not as good as I'd remembered.

CHEESY CHEDDAR-SCALLION BISCUITS: Another successful recipe from this book. This is a classic recipe where you cut cold butter into dry ingredients and moisten with milk and egg. I made half and got four large biscuits. I used 1 T. dried chives instead of scallions and added black pepper. Instead of using buttermilk I soured the regular milk with white vinegar. My dough was a little too wet (this is the kind of dough you want for 'drop' biscuits) so I just divided the dough into four parts in the mixing bowl, scooped each portion out, rolling each into a ball with both hands, and flattened each a bit on the baking sheet. That's actually easier and quicker than patting/rolling the dough out on a floured board/countertop and cutting it with a knife or cookie cutter. You could try adding chopped cooked bacon to the dough. Grade: A

PEACHES AND CREAM STREUSEL MUFFINS: Boy are these tender. Very cake-like and not at all dense like most muffins. These have a very fine crumb. I'm so happy with this recipe. I made half and got six. This recipe uses cream and fresh peaches in the batter. I used finely chopped canned peaches. FYI- one 15.25 oz. can of sliced peaches, finely chopped, will give you exactly 1 c. I used 1/2 c. of those peaches in place of fresh ones.

Surprisingly the muffins weren't too sweet but they did need a bit more salt. I'll add a bit of almond extract to the batter next time. I love almond extract with peaches or apricot. I also added three dashes of cinnamon to the batter. I always use cinnamon with peaches. I didn't make the streusel topping. The muffin liners were filled 3/4 of the way and baked in 17 minutes. The full recipe could be made in an 8" square pan or 11" x 7" x 2" pan. Grade: A+

SOUR CREAM CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKE: I'm on a winning streak with this book. Everything has turned out right, including this cake. This recipe uses both butter and oil and a decent amount of sour cream. Like the previously reviewed chocolate cake from this book this too is like boxed Devil's Food cake mix in both taste and texture. I made half in an 8" square foil-lined pan. It baked in 20 minutes and filled the pan most of the way after baking and had a flat top.

I used a bit more salt than called for but it needs more. I used half the cocoa, 5 T, not 10! and it's perfect. I used my own fudge frosting for this and topped it with 1/2 c. toasted chopped pecans. It wasn't as moist the next day. Grade: A-

cherry custardSOUR CHERRY ALMOND CLAFOUTI: This tastes awesome and was so simple to mix up. I love cherries and I'm so glad I now have a new recipe that I can use canned sour pitted cherries in. This is your basic baked egg custard that's got sour cherries, ground almonds and flour in it.

I used two 14.5 oz. cans of drained sour pitted cherries that were packed in water and that was plenty. It covered the bottom of a 10" round cake pan completely. It baked in 25 minutes. I used half and half and used slightly less sugar but it's still a little too sweet. I used more salt than specified and it wasn't enough. Those are two simple things that can be fixed next time.

This tastes so good! I toasted the almonds lightly and that made all the difference. I also added 1/4 t. almond extract and that was just enough to give it a hint of flavor. So next time, less sugar (I'll use 1/4 c.) and more salt and it'll be perfect. FYI- you can easily make just half of this in an 8" round pan. Grade: A

CHOCOLATY BUTTER CUPCAKES: This chocolate cake is pretty much like the rocky road fudge cake that I reviewed previously. Unlike that one this uses sour cream and hot water. The hot water didn't make the cake batter thin like you might expect. I made no changes at all to the recipe and it was perfect. Very moist, exactly like boxed Devil's Food cake mix. The cake didn't taste 'buttery' so I don't know why that's in the title.

Instead of making 12 cupcakes I used an 11" x 7" x 2" pan. That amount of batter will fit in an 8" square pan too. My cake baked in 22 minutes. I used my own fudge frosting for it.

This is one of the best chocolate cake recipes ever. I made another one in the same size pan as the first one, froze it and even after thawing and sitting on the countertop frosted for a few days it stayed very moist. Grade: A++

WARM MIX-IN-A-MUG CHOCOLATE CAKE: This is a horrible recipe. It barely resembles cake. It has no egg or baking powder in it. I mixed and baked mine in a 4" bowl. I used way less cocoa powder and less sugar and it was still too sweet. It was very spongy, gummy, and not the best tasting but that was nothing a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream couldn't cover up. The texture wasn't like cake at all. Grade: F

PEANUT BUTTER CUPCAKES: Great recipe. It's pretty much the same as one I used to make but lost the recipe for. Instead of 12 cupcakes I made this in a 9" by 1 1/2" round pan but it was too much batter for that size so the cake took longer to bake, 24 minutes. Next time I'll use a 10" round. I didn't make the milk chocolate ganache for it but did use my own chocolate frosting recipe. Grade: A+

SUPER MOIST APPLESAUCE QUICK BREAD: This is more cake-like to me than bread-like. It's very moist, dense, and flavorful. I made half in an 8" round pan. I also made a powdered sugar glaze for it that had almond extract in it. I used unsweetened apple sauce. This is a very good recipe. Grade: A

MY THOUGHTS: I love this book. I own a lot of cookbooks and I'll say this is my second or third favorite. My only complaint is that it needs a lot more photos. The recipes are simple, not fancy, difficult, or time consuming. If you've never baked from scratch, or never even used a hand mixer before you'll have zero trouble understanding the recipes. Like most cookbooks this has useful information about baking ingredients and pans/equipment at the beginning and an ever-useful index in the back.

Most of these recipes use all-purpose flour and just a few use cake flour. For the one I made that called for cake flour I used all-purpose flour, making the proper adjustments.

There are plenty more things I want to make out of here but it'll have to wait until next year.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Recipe images came from inside the book.

FOR LOVE ALONE by Shirlee Busbee

for love alonePUBLISHING INFO: Zebra, 12/2013
ORIGNIAL PUB: Warner, 5/2000
GENRE: Historical Romance
SETTING: England, 1809

FROM PUBLISHER: After her husband dies, Lady Sophy Marlowe vows she will never wed again, except for love. So when she is suspected of murder, and Viscount Ives Harrington saves her from the gallows, she is none too pleased to have to marry him in exchange for his calculated kindness. But the union of these two passionate people is destined to become much more than a marriage of convenience.

MY THOUGHTS: This was more of a historical mystery than romance. Both hero and heroine were uninteresting to me. I wasn't too interested in their relationship, to be honest. I didn't care for how they came to be married either.

I really enjoyed the mystery of finding out who the Fox was and it was no surprise that it wasn't revealed until near the end. Surprisingly it wasn't who you'd think. I was annoyed that Sophy, out of nowhere, thought she'd figured out who the owner of the cravat pin was, the pin that belonged to the Fox, who's also a serial killer. We didn't get to see into her mind to understand how she came to that conclusion, she just blurted the name out to Ives.

I tend to like evil characters so I really liked her uncle Edward and Agnes but didn't see the point of Anne, Agnes' ward, being in the story at all. Bringing Anne into the story was how we were introduced to Agnes but I think there could have been a better way of writing her into the story. Sophy's siblings didn't play much of a role in the story either so I could have done without them too.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

WEATHERMAN BLOOPER- Snow is beginning to stick on the asshole!

A few years ago this poor weatherman on a New Jersey news station accidentally says, live, that snow is beginning to stick on the asshole instead of asphalt. Best blooper ever, even better than Shepherd Smith's J. Lo blow job blooper.