Review: Then, Again by Karen Stivali

Then, AgainTitle: Then, Again
Author: Karen Stivali
Genre: Romance/ Foodie Romance
Grade/Rating: 4 out 5

Synopsis:

Sometimes you have to lose it all to find what you really need.

Photographer Kay Turner is dealt a double whammy when she flies home for her grandmother’s funeral to find her boyfriend with another woman. Now with two losses to mourn, she retreats to her newly inherited beach house to clear her head.

Everything at the beach is familiar: the sounds of the ocean, the scent of her grandmother’s perfume—and the irresistible smile of James Margolis. The man Kay spent her adolescence pining for is every bit as charming as she remembers.

James always thought of Kay as “a nice kid”, but he feels something very different for the woman she’s become. Especially when he asks if she’d be willing to part with some of her grandmother’s recipes for his new restaurant—and they wind up sharing much more than culinary secrets.

But as their relationship deepens, Kay finds herself caught between the demands of her dream career as a travel photographer, and a chance for happiness with the one man she’s wanted for a lifetime.

Warning: This foodie romance contains sensual scone baking, a heroine who discovers one bad apple hasn’t spoiled her appetite, and a delicious hero you can’t help but crave. Blend well, serve hot.

My Review:

                Then, Again is a story of love and strength but also finding and then holding on to what matters most in life. 
Continue reading

BLOG TOUR for HOLDING ON by Karen Stivali

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When you have everything you’ve ever dreamed of, the hard part is Holding On.

British NYU professor Daniel Gardner thinks life can’t get better than the day his three-year-old stepdaughter, Ella, calls him Daddy for the first time. Then his wife Marienne tells him she’s pregnant. Daniel is thrilled, but worried about Marienne’s health. Not wanting to cause her stress he turns to writing to calm his nerves. He pens a screenplay, thinking it’s nothing more than a mental health exercise, but when a colleague reads it and hands it to a producer, it turns into a production contract. Daniel accepts the offer and transfers to a teaching position at Dartmouth, hoping that small town living and a shorter commute will simplify his life.

As he attempts to juggle his new responsibilities he gets an unexpected letter from Roger, the father he never knew. For the first time since they met, Daniel and Marienne are at odds; she wants him to give Roger a chance but Daniel wants nothing to do with the man he thinks abandoned his mother. As Daniel and Marienne struggle they must contend with interference from Daniel’s sexy ex-wife, who appears to want him back, and a handsome, all-too-helpful single dad who desires Marienne as more than a play-date pal. They must both confront deep-seated issues with trust and acceptance if they’re going to find a way to make their marriage work and hold on to the love they share.

Purchase Links:
AMAZON | SMASHWORDS | BARNES & NOBLES

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January 21
Black Raven Reviews

January 22
Jessy’s Book Club

January 23
What’s On The Bookshelf

January 24
Literati Literature Lovers

January 25
Manic Readers

January 26
A Little Fiction of Every Flavour

January 27
Guilty Pleasures

January 28
Mrs. Condit & Friends Read Books

January 29
My Life Beyond Lables

January 30
Love, Laughter, Friendship
Sugar and Spice Book Reviews

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Karen Stivali is a prolific writer, compulsive baker, and chocoholic with a penchant for books, movies, and fictional British men. (source Goodreads)
Website | Goodreads

Review: Holding On By Karen Stivali

Title: Holding On
Author: Karen Stivali
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Stars: 5 out of 5

Synopsis: When you have everything you’ve ever dreamed of, the hard part is Holding On. British NYU professor Daniel Gardner thinks life can’t get better than the day his three-year-old stepdaughter, Ella, calls him Daddy for the first time. Then his wife Marienne tells him she’s pregnant. Daniel is thrilled, but worried about Marienne’s health. Not wanting to cause her stress, he turns to writing to calm his nerves. He pens a screenplay, thinking it’s nothing more than a mental health exercise, but when a colleague reads it and hands it to a producer, it turns into a production contract. Daniel accepts the offer and transfers to a teaching position at Dartmouth, hoping that small town living and a shorter commute will simplify his life.

As he attempts to juggle his new responsibilities, he gets an unexpected letter from Roger, the father he never knew. For the first time since they met, Daniel and Marienne are at odds; she wants him to give Roger a chance, but Daniel wants nothing to do with the man he thinks abandoned his mother. As Daniel and Marienne struggle, they must contend with interference from Daniel’s sexy ex-wife, who appears to want him back, and a handsome, all-too-helpful single dad who desires Marienne as more than a play-date pal. They must both confront deep- seated issues with trust and acceptance if they’re going to find a way to make their marriage work and hold on to the love they share.

Holding On, the sequel to Meant To Be, will be published by Turquoise Morning Press on November 26, 2012.

 

Review
This is a public service warning, DO NOT, I repeat do not read this book; because if you do read it, it will ruin your life as it has ruined mine. I have fallen for another woman’s husband. The object of my desire is Daniel Gardner, the male lead in the book Holding On; he is beyond wonderful. Maybe I better rewind and get back to the beginning.

We were asked by author Karen Stivali if we would like an ARC (advanced reading copy) of her soon-to-be-released book to review. Michelle Eck, my fellow lover, had reviewed her previous book Meant To Be, and our blog was part of her blog tour. Due to other commitments Michelle wasn’t able to review this new ARC. To be honest I had not read Meant To Be; but I had read Michelle’s review, and it was in my to be read pile. If I was going to read Holding On, I wanted to read it’s predecessor. I wanted to get a feel of the author’s writing style and experience the characters from their first meeting. Therefore, I read Meant To Be. Continue reading

Recipe: The Ultimate Chocolate Brownie Recipe

After reading Meant to Be, I was craving brownies because Marienne, the heroine in the book, loves to bake and bakes a lot!

Today, the author, Karen Stivali, was tweeting about making brownies.  Since she couldn’t send me any, she was nice enough to share her personal brownie recipe.  (Of course, I always think food tastes better when it’s made by someone else.)

 

If you like extra-chocolaty brownies with just the right mix of chewy edges, ooey-gooey middles, and a thin flaky top layer, then look no further, you’ve found the Ultimate Brownie Recipe. So easy you’ll never go back to a mix. Seriously. I’ve actually never made brownies from a mix, but friends who’ve asked for this recipe very often tell me they’ll never make mix brownies again. Whip up a batch and let me know what you think!

  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (I use Baker’s unsweetened)
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract (go a little over rather than a little under)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (I use Gold Medal)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I use Nestle’s)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Lightly butter a 9×13 inch metal baking pan. (Note: If you only have a glass pan that will work too, but lower the oven temp to 325 degrees.)

Place butter and chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for two minutes. Stir butter/chocolate mixture until all the chocolate is completely melted. (Note: If you don’t have a microwave you can do this in a pot on top of the stove, just make sure to do it over low enough heat that you don’t brown/scald the butter.)

When all the chocolate is melted, stir in 2 cups of sugar. Mix until completely blended.

Add three eggs and the hearty teaspoon of vanilla. Stir until completely blended.

Stir in 1 cup of flour.

Stir in 1 cup of chocolate chips.

Spread evenly in buttered pan.

Place pan on the center rack of the oven and bake for 33 minutes.

Remove brownies from the oven and insert a toothpick in the center to test them. If the toothpick still has wet batter on it, put them back in for a minute or two. If it has fudgy crumbs stuck to it or comes out clean, you’re done. (You’re aiming for fudgy crumbs, but honestly it depends what you hit when you stick the toothpick in—if it looks like you stabbed a chocolate chip and the toothpick has melted chocolate on it, take a fresh toothpick and try again.) DO NOT OVERBAKE THESE BROWNIES—a few extra minutes in the oven will turn them from a delightfully soft chewy/gooey treat into chocolate flavored bricks. Better underdone than overdone.

Let the pan cool on a rack for at least an hour or so (if you can wait a few hours that’s even better).

Once the pan is completely cool you can cut the brownies into squares (or rectangles, or whatever other shapes you please). Use a very sharp knife, or a pizza cutter, or a sharp-edged spatula. Store any brownies you’re not planning on eating immediately in an airtight container or cover tightly with plastic wrap. Air is not their friend and they will dry up if left uncovered.

Individually wrapped brownies travel well and are great for bake sales, packed lunches, or kept in a purse or briefcase for potentially stressful moments.

For an extra-special treat these can be topped with a swirl of your favorite chocolate frosting and a pretty M&M, but really, they don’t need it.

They’re pretty tasty under ice cream and hot fudge as well.

Whatever you choose to do with them, enjoy!

For more of Karen’s (Marienne’s) recipes, be sure to check out the link on her site.

Review: Karen Stivali’s “Meant to Be”

Title: Meant to Be
Author:  Karen Stivali
Genre:Women’s fiction with strong romantic elements/ Contemporary romance (cross genre)
Grade/Rating: 5 out of 5

Synopsis:  Sometimes you’re already committed to the wrong person when fate finally brings you the right one.

When NYU professor Daniel Gardner’s career-obsessed wife convinces him to move to the suburbs, he hopes it’s a first step toward starting the family he longs to have. Instead of domestic bliss he finds his neighbor, Marienne Valeti. She loves her freelance design job, but must contend with a growing sense of isolation created by her husband’s indifference. A penchant for good books, bad movies, and Marienne’s to-die-for brownies sparks a powerful bond between them. Passion simmers, but they resist its lure, surrendering only in the seclusion of their minds. Their friendship helps them weather every hardship, from divorce to widowhood, leaving them both secretly wondering if it can survive a first kiss.

Note:   This book contains mature themes and adult situations and language. Sex scenes are not closed door and are sensual (not erotic) heat level.

Read an excerpt from Meant to Be.

The above three lines were the inspiration behind Karen Stivali’s first full-length novel, Meant to Be.  How do we know which purpose someone is filling when they come into our life?  We don’t.  We can never predict who our “lifetime people” will be.
Continue reading

Meant to Be Blog Tour: Karen Stivali Interview & Giveaway

Which author influenced your writing the most, and how do you prepare yourself to write an erotic love scene?

I don’t know that there is one single author who has most influenced my writing. As a kid I read almost constantly. I was one of those cliché kids that hides a flashlight under the pillow and reads until all hours of the night. Even at a very young age I gravitated toward adult novels and I read everything I could get my hands on. My biggest influences were probably writers such as Judy Blume and Erica Jong, who taught me that not only can women craft fabulous stories, but those stories could (and should) be free to discuss all aspects of the character’s lives, the good, the bad and the sexual. Other writers, like Anton Myrer and Erich Segal, made me realize that my favorite stories are those in which you learn so much about the characters you feel like you know them personally. And countless writers from novelists to poets taught me to write about love, in all its most wonderful and most painful moments.

As far as erotic love scenes go, I prepare myself for them the same way I prepare to write any scene. All of my stories play out in my head like movies. I watch them over and over, taking in the details and listening to the dialogue until I can transcribe the whole thing. Then I write. I try to make sure that I have put myself in the mind and body of every character so I know exactly what they’re thinking and feeling. It doesn’t matter if I’m describing a meal they’re having, a laugh with a friend, a flirtatious moment, or the steamiest of sex scenes. The method of writing is the same: be in the moment with the characters.

Do you have a daily writing goal or do you stick to an outline?

I don’t have daily writing goals (unless I’m working on some sort of deadline). There are some days where I practically write nonstop and others where I don’t write at all. If I’m in a good groove on a particular story it’s not unusual for me to churn out 3-4k words in a day. Other days I can’t put together a paragraph. On those days I know it’s best to do something other than write.
Continue reading

Coming Soon: “Meant to Be” Blog Tour

We’re so excited to join some of our blogging friends for the Meant to Be Blog Tour at the end of the month.

Author, Karen Stivali, will give a digital copy of one of her back list at each tour stop. Tour grand prize will be a gift card to Amazon or B&N.

Tour Schedule

Monday, October 29           Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews
Tuesday, October 30          The Black Raven Erotic Cafe
Wednesday, October 31     Regina Ray Moss’s Blog
Thursday, November 1       Melissa Kendall Blog
Friday, November 2            Literati Literature Lovers
Monday, November 5         Love, Laughter, Friendship
Tuesday, November 6        My Secret Romance

Book Description

Sometimes you’re already committed to the wrong person when fate finally brings you the right one.  When NYU professor Daniel Gardner’s career-obsessed wife convinces him to move to the suburbs, he hopes it’s a first step toward starting the family he longs to have. Instead of domestic bliss he finds his neighbor, Marienne Valeti. She loves her freelance design job, but must contend with a growing sense of isolation created by her husband’s indifference. A penchant for good books, bad movies, and Marienne’s to-die-for brownies sparks a powerful bond between them. Passion simmers, but they resist its lure, surrendering only in the seclusion of their minds. Their friendship helps them weather every hardship, from divorce to widowhood, leaving them both secretly wondering if it can survive a first kiss.

Note:   This book contains mature themes and adult situations and language. Sex scenes are not closed door and are sensual (not erotic) heat level.

Genre:  Women’s fiction with strong romantic elements/ Contemporary romance (cross genre)