I'm emerging out of my writing cave today for COOKIES! And also, for being a NaNoWriMo WINNER!

*cue Rocky Balboa's victory music*


Whew. Now I can actually go to bed at a decent hour and take a shower in the morning. Also, sort the laundry that's already wilting in the basket, scrub the toilets, DO MY CHRISTMAS SHOPPING, and yeah, get more sleep.

Proof of my crazy November! Yeah!

I will post about my NaNo journey sometime later...er, mucho later. For now, you all get to drool over COOKIES! because my lovely and uber sweet friend, Angela V. Cook of The Starving Novelist (how appropriate!) is hosting a Virtual Cookie Exchange.

So, perfect timing for a celebration, no?

Here are the links to other blogs participating in this Cookie Fest:

The Starving Novelist

A Book, A Girl, A Journey

By Anna Banks

Publish Novels or Bust

Cookie Monster - cookie-monster wallpaper

I'm not a baking guru. Heck, I hardly bake pastry confections or bread or cookies or pies because while I can cook meals, baking, with its precise measurements and tedious methods, sometimes make me twitch an eye or two. So I generally leave the baking to the pros--like my mother, my sister, and my mother-in-law--and settle for those easy cut-and-pop-into-oven cookie dough available in your grocery aisle. Usually located in the cold shelves with the butter and eggs (at least, it is in my local grocery store).

But! That would not be good enough for this cookie fest. At the very least, Cookie Monster will stalk me and shove cookies in my mouth while I sleep if I don't give you a good cookie recipe.

So, what to do? What to do? I turn to my trusty and beloved cooking idol: Ree Drummond of Pioneer Woman Cooks. If you haven't heard of her, you need to get acquainted ASAP! Because of her, I made my very first Flat Apple Pie (with homemade crust! And to think I don't bake!) with great success. So this woman clearly is a guru, and she makes everything look so easy to make with her step-by-step photos accompanying the instructions.

Therefore, I share with you her website so you can peruse all the delicious meals she features there, and also a recipe that is simply to die for:

Cleta Bailey's Toffee Squares
From: Ree Drummond aka Pioneer Woman


  • 2 sticks Butter
  • 1 cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla
  • 2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 2 cups Chocolate Chips (milk Or Semi-sweet)
  • 3/4 cups Finely Chopped Pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, and flour and mix until combined. Spread on cookie sheet with an offset spatula until thin. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle on chocolate chips. Return to oven for 1 minute. Remove from oven and spread chocolate thinly over the cookie layer.

Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Cut into squares.

Product Details

I have her cookbook, and let me tell you, I use it all the time. My kids will happily eat anything I serve them if I tell them it's from the Pioneer Woman cookbook. Crazy, eh? And I sound like a telemarketer. Believe me, I don't get paid to endorse her or her product. I'm just simply a big fan.

Do you have favorite cookies you bake for the holidays? Care to share? If you want to participate, go ahead and post your favorite cookie recipe, but let me know so I can add you to the list of links!

> . <

Tumbleweeds, NaNo, and Turkeys

Hey, hey, my beautiful people!

Are those tumbleweeds and cobwebs you see on my blog?

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Why, yes. Yes, they are.

This month is almost over (yeah, 'cause we all know that after Thanksgiving day, the rest of the month goes by like this: FRISATSUNMONTUEWED and then Voila! It's Christmas! Ok, ok, not right away). And with my first ever NaNoWriMo participation, it's been crazy-busy...THOUGH I found that it's been actually DOABLE for me (surprise! surprise!). I am normally a slow writer who likes to take her time, but if you give me a challenge, I get that wild look in my eyes and go into sessions of word vomit.

For instance, one day I wrote 4,200 words--which, for all you superhero writers is nothing! But for me, that's like my brain was split open by a mad, evil scientist, and shaken around to  make the words spill out.

*what is with all the morbid imagery? I'm sorry. Will try to tone it down.

And then I would go through periods of hardly-any-writing, which I guess is not as bad as no-writing-at-all days. As of yesterday, I hit the big 40K, which means I have the rest of the month to come up with 10K words.

Hooray for NaNo!

For all you NaNo-ers out there, I hope you're meeting your goal/s. Keep on writing!

So, I am surviving and doing well. And since THANKSGIVING is practically knocking at our doorsteps, I'd like to take the time to say THANK YOU...

...for YOU, wonderful people, who take the time to come and visit my blog (and leave comments), even when it was gathering dust and spider babies.

...for my FRIENDS, both personal and virtual. You guys keep me going! Your stories, your lives, your beauty, your kindnesses...I will be forever grateful for your friendship.

...for BOOKS and ART and MUSIC, because they make life extra-beautiful.

...for my FAMILY, who's always been there for me, even when I'm bordering on stepping over Insanityville, and for understanding my long periods of silence because I'm thinking, plotting, and hacking away at the keyboard for many, many hours.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Book Review: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

I won this book (along with 6 others) from A.M. Supinger's short story contest. (Thanks, A.M.!) I've heard rave reviews of this book before so I was excited to read it.

Blurb from Goodreads:

“Dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret,” the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie were best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies. But now Cassie is dead. Lia's mother is busy saving other people's lives. Her father is away on business. Her step-mother is clueless. And the voice inside Lia's head keeps telling her to remain in control, stay strong, lose more, weigh less. If she keeps on going this way—thin, thinner, thinnest—maybe she'll disappear altogether.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the National Book Award finalist Speak, best-selling author Laurie Halse Anderson explores one girl's chilling descent into the all-consuming vortex of anorexia.

About the Author:

Laurie Halse Anderson is the New York Times-bestselling author who writes for kids of all ages. Known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity, her work has earned numerous ALA and state awards. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists. You can follow her on Twitter, or find her blog here.

The Book: YA Contemporary

I have to admit I was surprised at first by the stylistic construction the author employed to emphasize the protagonist's state of mind. By page three, I was fine. I actually think it renders the book a feeling of being not altogether there...a chopped up perception, a disoriented reflection of Lia's mental being. Which is what our protagonist, Lia, is: a hollow shell of a teenage girl who starves herself to fill up the void inside her. She's not altogether there. Her body image is bloatedly skewed, and her relationship with her family is so messed up she feels like a rag doll being passed from one person to the next.

When her ex-bestfriend Cassie dies in a motel room alone, Lia's downward spiral becomes inevitable. Even though her mom, a heart transplant surgeon always too busy for her, and her dad and his new wife/stepmom, genuinely wants Lia to get better, Lia continues to deceive them by sewing quarters in her weighing robe and appearing to be the perfect, calm daughter as the pounds melt off of her. Lia also begins to see Cassie haunting her, waiting for her to die so they can be together again.

Ms. Anderson's lyrical prose reflects Lia's morbid thoughts. I thought it was really well done and not over the top at all. It is haunting and sad and beautiful at once. It is an insider's peek at what could possibly go through an anorexic person's head. I've read other reviews where someone complained the protagonist was too egoistic to be likable. Too selfish, too self-absorbed. But that's why the author nailed it--people who suffer from such disorders have a distorted sense of reality.

Very well written for a sensitive subject. I give the author a big kudos for tackling such a painful and complex character, for letting us dive into the ugly truth of anorexia and bulimia, and for opening doors to others who may be going through these same experiences. Highly recommended.

How's Your NaNo Going?

I think I'm all mixed up this week because of NaNoWriMo. So I won't attempt a long post, but would like to say HELLO! to all of you, brilliant, talented people! ;) And I wanted to leave you with this:

Keep on writing! May the MUSE be with you. ;)

P.S. Sorry if I haven't been visiting your blogs. But know that I am thinking of you guys in between writing breaks, snack breaks, and...er...well, not so much while I'm sleeping *awkward silence* Sorry. BUT! I love you guys, and the Nanoing is going great!

P.P.S. I'm CherieL over at the NaNoWriMo site, if you ever need a buddy. ;) 

Write on! \m/

Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

I totally bought this book the moment I saw it on the shelf at my local bookstore. Didn't know what the story was about, didn't care to know. They could have been about vamps or zombies or whathaveyou and I still would have gotten it because it's by LAINI TAYLOR!! This author can write. This author can write and blow your mind apart.

Are you drowning in my endless gushing yet?

*dials down adoration scale to prevent readers from fleeing blog*


Blurb from Goodreads:

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

About the Author:

Laini Taylor is the author of three previous novels: the Dreamdark books Blackbringer and Silksinger, and the National Book Award finalist Lips Touch: Three Times. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, illustrator Jim Di Bartolo, and their daughter, Clementine.

Visit her website here. Book site here.

The Book: YA Fantasy/Paranormal

"Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love.
It did not end well."

Ms. Taylor's masterful prose always delivers beautiful, haunting images. It is mostly set in Prague, though we see glimpses of other cities through the portals that Karou enters to "run errands" for her chimaera family. And of course--the world of Elsewhere. Eretz. The otherworldly kingdom where an age-old battle between the angels and the devils continue to rip apart lives and dreams and...love.

In the beginning of the book, Karou does not know who she is or where she comes from. In the eyes of her friends, she's the blue-haired girl whose sketches are extraordinarily real and mystical; the girl who would disappear for days on end to "run errands", and sometimes come home with mysterious scars and bruises. For Karou, she's the girl who can make wishes using her beads, or scuppies, and who must absolutely obey her caretaker Brimstone's orders, even if it meant dragging elephant tusks in Paris back to the portal.

There is so much intrigue and mystery surrounding her and her life with the chimaeras, it's enough to keep you turning pages. When a seraphim tries to kill her, the line between this world and the other begins to blur, and Karou is finally going to find the truth about herself.

This is a MUST read. For anyone who enjoys Fantasy, yes. But more so if you enjoy beautiful writing. There's a wonderfully impossible love story in the mix, too, and a lot of wishing for hope.

For my part, I just wish that Ms. Taylor would never stop writing, would never stop giving us art in the form of her books. I can't wait for the sequel to come out.

Book Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Great title, isn't it? I won this book from Claire Legrand's #ARCAPALOOZA contest on Twitter. Claire is uber generous, and so much fun! Her book, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, is due out in Fall 2012, and I wish there was a time machine so I can get my hands on her book. You can find her website here.

Blurb from Goodreads:

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's in seat 18B. Hadley's in 18A.

Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.

About the Author:

Jennifer E. Smith is the author of the three young adult novels: The Comeback Season, You Are Here, and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. She earned her master's degree in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and currently works as an editor in New York City.

The Book: YA Contemporary

When Hadley misses her flight to London, she ends up waiting in the airport for the next available flight. She's all kinds of mad, and not just because she's barely going to make it to her father's wedding to a British girl he left his family for, and whom Hadley has never even met in person. Hadley, in typical child-resenting-both-parents-for-their-divorce fashion, does not want to go to the wedding, let alone forgive her father for leaving her and her mom in an emotional mess. And did I mention she's claustrophobic, thereby making the thought of flying in a metal tube ten times scarier than meeting the new stepmom?

But Hadley meets Oliver, a British Yalie student, who's also heading to London for a family affair. He offers to help her with her bags, and when they end up seating in the same row in the plane, he helps her forget about the tiny, closed-up space.

I really enjoyed reading this (I finished it in about 2 hours!). It's light, it's cute, and who doesn't like stories of a serendipitous nature, right? While the romance aspect hovers above their heads for most of the story, it is really Hadley's relationship with her father that takes the spotlight. It's about forgiveness and love, for letting go and taking in new risks. There's also a sort of parallel-contrast between Hadley's relationship with her dad, and Oliver's relationship with his dad. While Hadley and Oliver struggled to come to terms with their own individual heartaches, they realized that together, they keep each other grounded.   

This reminds me of a cutesy summer flick that leaves you smiling and feeling fuzzy warm inside after you leave the movie theatre. The conflict's not a matter of life and death (yeah, you know me. I mostly read fantasy or dark fantasy/dystopian/horror so this was different for me), but it's a sweet reminder of how we need to put things in perspective and learn to look beyond our own (hurt) ego. In Hadley's case, her father truly loves the woman he's marrying, and while he knows this hurts Hadley and her mom, it is an unescapable truth.  

So, if you've got an hour or two to spare, or the next time your flying somewhere, pick this up for a pleasant, enjoyable read.

Precy Larkins's books on Goodreads
Winter's Regret: What Might Have Been Winter's Regret: What Might Have Been
reviews: 2
ratings: 4 (avg rating 5.00)



2014 Reading Challenge

2014 Reading Challenge
Precy has read 10 books toward her goal of 50 books.

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Precy's bookshelf: read

Whispering Minds
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Night of Cake & Puppets
The Fault in Our Stars
The Return of the King
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Last Olympian
The Hundred: Fall of the Wents
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The Hunger Games
The Founders' Code
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The Two Towers
The Book Thief
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
The Lost Hero
The Battle of the Labyrinth

Precy Larkins's favorite books »