Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Two For the Price of One...

Sabrina's Month of Love

I'm wrapping up Sabrina's Month of Love with a final version of
Better Than Sex Cake... and a confession.

I'd been told by some friends that I needed to read some books written by Robert Crais. I'm not sure why I waited so long, but now that I've been introduced to the two men in this series it's going to take a lot of discipline on my part to keep my review schedule... on schedule. Plus, I'm not sure how I'm supposed to balance my feelings between two incredibly hot characters- one a wise-cracking Casanova, and the other practically invisible, yet... dangerously attractive with his silent presence. For the life of me I'm not quite sure what Mr. Crais had in mind when he thought he could write a series with two strong male leads without getting a girl like me in trouble.

I mean, I'm a lover of male fictional characters, people. I read a good book with a strong male lead and my heart beats a little faster and I fall... in love. Sure, maybe it only lasts the length of the novel, but I develop feelings along the way and before I know it I'm eating, drinking, and sometimes dreaming of these men that I know must have been written just for me. Okay, maybe they weren't written just for me... but it sure does seem like it. *sigh*

Yeah, I've got a two for the price of one special happening in this Elvis Cole / Joe Pike series... and I'm tossing out my Reacher Worthy Chart and jamming to the tunes of Corey Hart... I Wear My Sunglasses at Night. Ooooooh, no... I'm afraid I've lost my mind. I've fallen... and I've fallen hard. What on earth will my friends think of me now? 

Well, while I try to figure out how I'm supposed to love two men at the same time... why don't y'all have some cake! And, thanks for joining me this month. It's been lots of fun.

Better Than Sex Cake – Version Three

·        1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix

·        1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice

·        3/4 cup white sugar

·        2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix

·        3 cups milk

·        1 cup heavy whipping cream

·        1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

·        1 teaspoon vanilla extract

·        3/4 cup flaked coconut, toasted

·        1/2 cup chopped pecans

·       Directions

1.     Prepare and bake cake mix according to box directions for a 9 x 13 inch cake pan.

2.     While the cake is baking, combine pineapple with juice and 3/4 cup sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes until thick and syrupy, stirring occasionally. Pierce top of hot cake with fork at 1 inch intervals. Pour pineapple mixture over cake. Cool completely.

3.     Beat pudding mix with milk until smooth. Spread pudding over cooled cake.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Dark Mission Novels by Karina Cooper

Sabrina's Month of Love

So, I told my friends that I would drag out my Black Dagger Brotherhood novels by J.R. Ward, give some highlights of each book, and list the page numbers to my favorite love scenes. But, after thinking about it for a couple of days it dawned on me that the majority of my friends already know what my favorite love scenes from the BDB series are. I mean, it's not like we don't discuss this stuff during breaks at work. And if I shared with the world all of my favorite love scenes from the BDB series I'd literally have no secrets left.  I'm pretty much an open book... but some things... well, some things just can't be shared.

Plus, I wanted to reintroduce you to Karina Cooper and her Dark Mission novels. I found Karina on Twitter (surprise) and had heard about her series when she was just about to release Before the Witches. Before the Witches is a novella giving us some back story to the Dark Mission series. You can read a little bit about it 
----->>>> here.  I think I made a plea for my coworkers to join me in reading the series, and, surprisingly, quite a few of them purchased copies of the first two books that were available at the time. So, with that in mind, I thought I'd give a couple of quick reviews, give you some page numbers to watch for, and let you know about the third book in the series that's now available for purchase. 

First up... Blood of the Wicked. Set about 50 years after the earthquakes that took place in Before the Witches, Blood of the Wicked tells the story of an independent witch named Jessie Leigh. On her own since her mother's death and her brother took off, Jessie's been living below the "grid" by hanging in the dives found in the lower surfaces of Seattle to avoid being captured by the Holy Order. But, after becoming a little too complacent in her surroundings, Jessie is tracked down and captured by, Silas, a soldier from the Holy Order (witch hunter) in an attempt to locate Jessie's brother, Caleb, and execute him. So, as you can imagine, Silas... the hard-as-a-rock witch hunter out to destroy witches that are threatening what's left of the world, finds himself falling for the incredibly beautiful, Jessie. And, Jessie... finds herself falling for a witch hunter that's using her in attempt to locate her brother, kill him and any other witch that happens to get in the way.  Eventually the attraction between both parties causes belief systems to crumble and passion to ignite... repeatedly, beginning with pages 122-127, and continuing throughout the book. Looks like this witch hunter is about to learn the hard way just how nice it is to have a witch on his side. 

Next... Lure of the Wicked. Naomi West, witch hunter extraordinaire from the Holy Order of St. Dominic, has been sent on an undercover mission to Timeless, a luxurious spa in New Seattle, to capture a rogue agent. A woman that would rather be in the gym than wearing designer clothes, Naomi soon finds herself battling a killer witch, saving the life of a guest, and fighting off the advances of one Phinneas Clarke,  the seriously handsome bachelor, and *cue music* underground witch rescuer. Doesn't take long for things to heat up between the two as showcased on page 79... and again on pages 152-157... and... and... and... just when Naomi thinks she can easily walk away from what's been started, tragedy strikes, and a gift is given that leaves Naomi just as vulnerable as the witches she's been hunting all these years. So, can the love that's developed between Phin and Naomi survive all of their hidden secrets?   All of them? Really? I guess you'll have to read the book to find out.

Witch (see what I did there?) brings us to All Things Wicked.  The Coven of the Unbinding never forgets what's theirs. Juliet Carpenter thought of the coven as family, but when she falls for a man who betrays them all, she's left alone and desperately searching for a reason why. Caleb Leigh has spent the past year in hiding, unable to escape his demons. When Juliet finds him again, her need for vengeance clashes with the hunger still burning between them.

It's a fight born from the embers of a half-forgotten attraction and the wounds of a past too raw to ignore. With enemies circling and secrets threatening to consume them all, Caleb has no choice but to fulfill a promise made long ago -- protect her, save her. Even if it costs him his blood, his body... and what's left of his mind. 

All Things Wicked is book three in the Dark Mission novels, and like before, if any of my coworkers would like me to put this on my next purchase order for them... just holler at me. Karina's created a pretty incredible world in this post apocalyptic Seattle. The series is perfectly written and wonderfully descriptive, her characters have depth, and the love scenes... well, we've got run down cathedrals, limos, streams, and gyms. Not to mention the book covers. Seriously, ladies, what are you waiting for?

After weaving happily ever afters for all of her friends in school, Karina Cooper eventually grew up (kind of) and fell in love with writing. She broke into the scene with her gritty Dark Mission series, introducing a world that RT Book Reviews calls “an electrifying start”.

One part glamor, one part total dork, and all imagination, she writes dark and sexy paranormal romance and Steampunk-flavored historical urban fantasy. When she isn’t writing, Karina is an airship captain’s wife and Steampunk fashionista. She lives in the beautiful and rainy Pacific Northwest with a husband, four cats, two rabbits, the fantasy of a dog and a passel of adopted gamer geeks.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Turning by Dawn Kirby


In Deeper

Matt dropped his head, barely able to hold it up anymore. Thank God the sun had come up. One more beating and he was sure he wouldn’t be able to feel anything ever again. Blood trickled from a deep cut above his right eye, dripping down his eyelid. Between that and the immense amount of sweat pouring off his body thanks to a fever, he didn’t even bother opening his eyes anymore. The pain was already bad enough, why invite more?

He shifted in the chair, readjusting his bound hands in an effort to keep the circulation going. He’d been tied up like this, arms behind his back, secured to the back legs of the wooden chair. His feet had been tied to the front legs. The weres had made sure he wouldn’t be able to even attempt to help Carly the night they’d decided to take her away. First by knocking him into near unconsciousness. Then by finding the simplest chair in the house and attaching him to it.

As soon as they’d left with her, Ben had begun beating him. What started out as nothing more than a hot-headed tantrum had turned into a nightly routine. Matt knew it by heart now. Ben woke, ate, and came looking for him. Why he thought beating the woman’s brother he claimed to love more than life itself would help him win her heart any was anybody’s guess. Then again, Ben wasn’t one to think logically. He’d seen that for himself on more than one occasion.

Nobody was safe here. Not the help. Not the people Ben claimed were his friends and certainly not women. From what he could tell, Ben used them, abused them, drained them and then moved onto he next. He treated them like an all-you-can-eat buffet. Matt had counted no less than twenty since the night he’d been here. They all walked in, but none had ever walked out.

A noise outside the window made him force his eyes open. Nobody ever came around here during the day. As he focused on the welcome figure in the window, he tried his best to get his hands loose. It was a feeble attempt, but seeing Carly again had given him a reason to try.

“Get still,” a gruff voice mumbled from behind him. He stopped struggling and let the man cut the ropes. “Can you walk?”

“Hell if I know, “ Matt said, rubbing his bloody wrists. “I haven’t tried to move my feet in days.”

“Humans,” the man sighed. He tossed Matt’s body over his shoulder and tromped back outside to the van waiting in the driveway. Carly jumped in just as her escort dumped Matt in the back. He shook his head at her and slammed the back doors shut. Climbing into the driver’s side, he looked into the back and motioned to the blanket in the corner. “It’s not much, but it’ll keep him warm. Knowing that Vamp’s temper, he’s more than likely got a lot of healing to do and unless he’s a were and doesn’t know it, he’s got a fever.” He shook his head again and put the van in drive. “Why you want average is beyond me.”

“Average is safe,” Carly shot back at him. “Average doesn’t use me. Average doesn’t expect me to read minds and manipulate their rivals. Average loves me for me. Not what I can do for him.”

“Whatever floats your boat, sugar,” he snorted. “Your loss.” As he turned onto the road, he turned up the radio, determined not to listen to the sappy reunion that was sure to come.

“How did you-”

Carly put her hand over his mouth and gestured toward the driver. “As much as I want to fall in your arms right now and have you tell me everything will be okay, I can’t. They respect strength. I need you to muster up as much as you can.” She looked at his battered body and smiled. “I’ll take care of you behind closed doors, but in front of them, you have to stand on your own two feet. I know it’s a lot to ask, but it’s critical.”

“To who?” he asked. He wasn’t mad, he just needed to know who’s tail was on the line if he screwed up. “You or me?”

“Both of us.” Carly laid the blanket over him and laid his head in her lap. “I told them I wouldn’t tell them another thing unless they agreed to go after you. They resisted at first, but when Alana sent her cop friend to check them out, they figured it was better to at least try to get on her good side.”

“Cop friend? Alana?”

“Chris,” she answered. “Apparently he knows where she is. He’s trying to get her away from Nicholas, but I’m not sure he’ll have much luck. She’s torn, Matt. She loves him, but she can’t wrap her mind around what he is. What he has to do to live.”

“He hasn’t turned her then?” Relief washed over him when Carly shook her head. Nicholas was a nice guy, but he wasn’t so sure he wanted Alana with him if it meant she had to change. “Where are they?”

“Chris won’t say. He’s afraid Ben will find out somehow and go after her.”

“So what’s the plan? How do we get out of this alive? All of us.”

“We deal with the weres first.” She glanced at the driver to make sure he wasn’t listening and leaned down to whisper in Matt’s ear. “Chris has agreed to turn a blind eye so they can have their little war with the understanding that the winning side help eradicate Ben altogether. They want him gone anyway so that wasn’t a hard sale.”

“What else?” He could hear worry in her voice.

“They want Nicholas gone too.”

Matt sat up, maybe too quickly. He shook off the dizziness and grabbed Carly’s wrist. “Dead gone or out of town gone?” Either way he stood to lose his little sister.

“Either. They want this territory to themselves.”

“Does Alana know?”

“No.” Her eyes met his. There was far more to this plan than she wanted to tell him now. “Chris is handling that. He’s planning to talk to Nicholas about it tonight. Alana doesn’t know that either.”

“She will when he shows up.”

“No, she won’t.” Carly cleared her throat as the van came to a stop. She couldn’t risk the driver overhearing any part of Chris’s plan.

“Just tell me she’s okay.”

“I can’t.” The truth was, Nicholas had blocked her from entering his mind. The last memory she’d seen was of him feeding off Alana while she slept.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Little Levi-Lovin' with Moses McGuire

I was introduce to the incredibly talented author, Josh Stallings last year when his debut novel Beautiful, Naked & Dead was pretty much forced on me by my good friend, Fiona Johnson.  It was love at first lap dance... or was that pole dancing? Hmmm... whatever it was, my heart fell even harder for the guy with his return in Out There Bad.  Moses might be an ex-con, ex-marine, ex-husband in debt to the ex-wife and ex-bookie, but if there's one thing I've noticed about Moses McGuire it's that the guy has a strong desire to be loved. His love life might not have worked out for him over the last couple of books, but I'm sure one day a lovely lady will come along and sweep him off his feet... even without a lap dance or two. Well, here's hoping, anyway.

Josh was kind enough to send me an excerpt from Out There Bad showcasing a lovely little scene with Moses and one of his love interests.  Its perfect for Sabrina's Month of Love, and  it was the first scene that came to mind when I sent Josh an email requesting a little something for the blog. The fact that he chose this particular scene makes me think Josh knows me a little too well... After reading it this morning and seeing the reference to red velvet curtains, I couldn't help but add a recipe for Moses McGuire Red Velvet Cupcakes... I know,  I know. I'm hopeless with the cupcake thing! Enjoy!

Warning:  this scene does contain strong language, so... considered yourself warned.

From OUT THERE BAD...
“Buy me drink?” she said, absentmindedly tracing her finger down the line of her dress, pulling my attention to her breasts. They were mounded by a push-up bra into marvelously lush cleavage.
“Nice move,” I said, my eyes following her finger, “but unnecessary. I already noticed how good you look.”
“I don't know what you are talking about,” she went wide-eyed and innocent.
“You're hot, you know it. I know it. I'm way out of my league here, so I'll buy you a drink, chit some chat while you scope your next victim, but you have to turn down the heat, ok?”
“Spasibo, it was much work, pretending to like a big handsome man like you.” She smiled broadly, showing me that gap in her teeth. “Betty, please, a RĂ©my,” she called to the bartender.
She had expensive taste when someone else was paying. I wondered what she drank when it went on her tab. I ordered myself another McCallans that I probably didn't need, but sure wanted.
“Na zdororve!” she said, clinking my shot glass with her snifter. I knew she got a cut of any booze the chumps bought her, but I didn't care. It was worth every penny to sit listening to her accented broken English.
“Scorpio, yes?” she asked.
“I don't know.”
“What is your birthday?”
“October twentieth. What? Why are you grinning like I just dropped a hundred on the stage?”
“Scorpio. Casanova, Scorpio the lover. Ruled by Mars, a lover and warrior.”
“And you?” Astrology is pure mumbo jumbo, but I would have said anything to keep the conversation going.
“Me, Aries. We are fire and water.”
“Is that a good thing?”
“Yes.” She slew me with a look of deep longing. “My beautiful man, I knew you were for me, first time I saw you,” she said, simply as if it were an obvious fact.
“I thought we agreed you were going to dial it back,” I said, hoping she would turn up the heat.
“Scorpio,” she shook her head, mulling the thought over, “I have to be very careful with you, if I fall for you it would be very bad for business.”
“Why me? Look around, plenty of younger, richer guys here.”
“They are boys dressed like men. You are man.”
“Dressed like a boy.” I smiled looking down at my Pogues concert shirt, faded jeans and Doc Martens. I spent my nights looking after girls, but here was a woman. My back straightened and my chest puffed slightly. She made me want to be the man she seemed to think I was.
Katy Perry blasted happy pop over the sound system. I noticed Earl and his schoolgirl had disappeared into the VIP room, so I guessed his date was going fine. Over our drinks, Katerina told me she was from Yaroslavl, a small city two hundred miles from Moscow. “When I was fifteen, my mother passed away and left me to take care of my baby sister and my pig of a father.”
“Sounds rough.”
I never knew my old man and by the time I was sixteen I was in the Marines being shot at by towel heads in the Root. To get away from my drunk mother, I had stolen my big brother's birth certificate and they shipped me off to that jug fuck in Lebanon. I didn't tell Katerina any of that, I just told her I had grown up poor, too. We had a bond that children forced to grow up too soon share. A bond of pain and longing. A bond of anger and the desire to be loved. Over our words, a separate conversation flowed between our eyes, a conversation of longing and need.
“Come, I'll dance for you. I want to.”
“Sorry, I don't do that anymore,” I said, with zero resolve.
“Yes, I know... come.”
She took my hand and led me willingly across the room and through the red velvet curtains into the VIP room. Earl must have gone home while we were talking, because we had the room to ourselves. It was a low ceilinged dimly lit cave of lust. Plush crushed velvet tuck and roll surrounded the room like it was one big low-rider Chevy. There were several tables with chairs and candles. Generally the couch is $35-$40 bucks and the chairs are $20-$25. That's before tip, but only about half the pricks tip the girl who dances on them. The law states that the man cannot at any time touch the girl, she can touch him, but not in a lewd manner. Trying to legislate morality is like trying to hold back the sea with a chain link fence.
Katerina pushed me down in the soft padding, over the speakers, Cee Lo Green started singing about wishing he had enough cash to keep the girl. She put her knees between mine and pried them open, moving slowly ever closer. I was used to lap grind, make a guy come and get on with your day dances. But she was seducing me, one move at a time. As she swayed closer, I could feel the heat emanating from her before any skin touched. Her lips brushed across my cheek, I could feel her breath, smell the faint cigarette mixed with brandy. Just when I thought she would kiss me she pulled back. It took all I had not to pull her down on top of me. The song ended and Katerina rose up taking a small step back. Her eyes flicked down to my lap.
“One more, yes?” she said.
“Why not.” I fought to sound like I could take it or leave it. Chili Peppers' Breaking the Girl filled the air around us.
Katerina slowly unfastened her shirt, letting it drop to the floor. She stepped out of her leather skirt and stood for a moment so I could look at her. She had a ragged appendix scar. A small jailblue tattoo started on her hip and ran down disappearing into her thong. It was maybe two inches long, a straight line with a cross bar near the top and below it a second line set more diagonally. Marina had a similar tat, it must be a Russian thing.
Looking up at Katerina, I knew whatever she wanted was hers, she was that beautiful. Sounds shallow but there it is. Moving between my legs, this time she pushed her leg until it was against my erection. I let out a shudder as she began to stroke me with her thigh. Moving up she brushed her breasts across my face, I kissed her ivory skin. She didn't pull away. She moved slowly down, I kissed her neck, and then she brought me her lips. Gift of all gifts, a real kiss. Hookers and strippers alike will tell you they will fuck and suck all day long, but to kiss is just too personal.
Katerina's lips pressed against mine. She bit at my lower lip, her eyes were closed and her breathing had the rhythm of arousal. Her hand wrapped around the line in my jeans, she let out a small gasp. I ran my hand up her thigh. Continuing the kiss, I pulled her down on top of me. And like two Catholic teenagers, we went at. She ground herself against my bulge, pushing her tongue into my mouth. How many songs came and went while we pounded against each other I haven't a clue, I was lost in the rush. Her breathing turned into a deep rasp.
Suddenly her eyes popped open in crazy surprise. She sank her teeth into my shoulder to muffle her scream. Then like a rag doll, she collapsed into the couch next to me with her head on my shoulder.
“Oh, oh... you didn't finish... I sorry... I,” she said with weak but genuine concern.
“Ain't nothin but a thing.”
“But...”
“Hush... you smell so human.” I nuzzled her neck.
“What?”
“You don't cover up with a bunch of perfume, you smell human.”
Her eyes drifted closed, maybe she wanted to block out the room around us.
“What's your name? It's not ‘Katerina’.”
“You don't like it?”
“It's fine, just not yours, least not the one you were born with.”
She thought about this for a long moment, screwing up her fine features. “What is your name?”
“Moses McGuire.”
“That's funny.”
“The only book my mother ever read was the bible. Brother's name is ‘Luke’. Guess we're both lucky we didn't get stuck with ‘Jesus One’ and ‘Jesus Two’.”
She opened her eyes, making sure I knew what she was giving me. “Anya Kolpacolva.”
Somewhere out in the club, the DJ was calling for all the girls to line up for a two for the price of one lap dance special.
Anya let out a laugh. “Oh my god, how long have we been here? You are bad for business, I know this the moment I see you.”
“Do you mind?”
“No,” she said laughing. Jumping up, she pulled on her shirt and skirt in faster time than an Indy pit crew. Reaching down, she tugged me up and out of the couch. Arm in arm and giggling like high schoolers, we walked out of the VIP room.
When I slipped $200 into her purse she rolled her eyes but she didn't refuse. She had rent to pay like everyone else.
From the bar, I watched the money mating dance gyrate around me. Anya slipped like a shark through the sea of men, hustling them, then stopping by to give me a wink or a kiss in between trips to the VIP room. I realized one of these fat fucks was gonna wind up dead if I didn't get out of there soon.
“Want a dance?” Anya had slipped up behind me while my concentration was on buying a last shot of scotch.
“Love to, but I'm broke.” I don't know why I lied, fact was I had a wad in my pocket and more cash stashed in my hideout hole in the car. I guess I was hoping she would offer me a freebee, a way she could show that I was different than the other slobs.
“We have ready-teller.” She made it sound sexy, purring like it was some exotic love toy.
“Do I look like the kind of guy they'd give a bank card to?”
“Everyone has bank card.”
“I don't.”
“Too bad,” she was leaning into me, making sure I got a grand glimpse down her dress at what I was missing. She kissed my neck. “You are so bad for business.”
“When do you get off? I'll take you to breakfast,” I whispered.
“A date?” She closed her eyes, smiling inwardly at the idea. “No, not tonight.” Past my shoulder, she surveyed the room for her next client.
“Whatever.” I turned back to the bar, trying to pull off indifference, though petulant may have been closer to the effect.
“Here.” She was on the move, she slipped a piece of paper into my hand. “My cell number, call me.” She started to disappear into the crowd, then turned back. “You do have a cell phone?”
“Nope, but I've got some change and a working finger.”
“My beautiful man. Are you sure you are American?”
“Only because my parents fucked here,” I said. Anya laughed, running her hand through my hair. I gave her a stolen kiss the manager didn't see and promised to come back the next night. Then stumbled out into the evening.

BEAUTIFUL, NAKED & DEAD is available from in PRINT and for  KINDLE.
OUT THERE BAD is available in PRINT  and for both the KINDLE and the NOOK.

Josh Stallings is your average ex-criminal, ex-taxi driver, ex-club bouncer, film making, script writing, award winning trailer editing, punk. Over his time in Hollywood he wrote and edited the feature film “The Ice Runner,” a Russian/American co-production. “Kinda Cute for a White-Boy” an independent feature he directed and co-wrote with novelist Tad Williams, won best picture at the Savanah International Film Festival. He also wrote “Ground Zero Texas,” a best selling Sony video game with Edward Neumeier (writer of RoboCop). His first novel BEAUTIFUL, NAKED & DEAD is garnering great notice from readers and reviewers alike. OUT THERE BAD (Moses #2) Will be published early summer. He is currently working on the third Moses McGuire novel. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife Erika, his bullmastiff Nelson, Lucy the lab pit mix and Riddle the cat.

You can read more about Josh Stallings at his website HERE!

Moses McGuire Red Velvet Cupcakes

MOSES MCGUIRE RED VELVET CUPCAKES

Ingredients

Cupcakes:
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons red food color
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/8 cup Sugar In The Raw®
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup low fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Stevia Extract In The Raw® Cup For Cup
  • 2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 2 1/4 cups Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup Stevia Extract In The Raw® Cup For Cup, plus
  • 1 tablespoon Stevia Extract In The Raw® Cup For Cup
  • 1/4 cup 1% low fat milk
Directions

Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

1.     In small bowl combine cocoa, red food color and vanilla, set aside.

2.     In large bowl beat together butter and Sugar in the Raw and Stevia Extract in the Raw. Add yolks one at a time and beat well after each addition. Add cocoa mixture and blend well.

3.     In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, set aside. Combine buttermilk with salt. Combine cayenne pepper and baking powder with cake flour. Add buttermilk mixture and flour mixture to cocoa mixture, alternating a third at a time beating after each addition. Combine baking soda and vinegar then add to batter and blend well. Fold in egg whites.

4.     Fill each heart-shaped silicone baking cup 2/3 full with batter. Arrange cups on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper and bake 13-15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

5.     Remove from oven and let cool 5-10 minutes before removing from baking cup. Cool cupcakes on rack before frosting.

6.     Cream Cheese Frosting: In a medium bowl combine all ingredients and blend well. Makes enough frosting for 36 cupcakes.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sabrina's Month of Love - Winners & Cupcakes

We've got two winners to announce today.

A BIG THANKS to those that have participated in both contests!  Enjoy the goods.  Please send me your addresses to sabrinaogden@gmail.com.

Oscar Martello -

The incredibly kind Steve Weddle sent me a lovely email with some Oscar Martello links! Woot! Woot! You can find those below... And the winner of a box of candy and an Oscar Martello button is ... LINDA RODRIGUEZ! Congratulations, Linda. Just send me your address and I'll get this in the mail.

Oscar Martello goodness can be found at the links below:

http://steveweddle.blogspot.com/p/terminal.html
http://dosomedamage.blogspot.com/2010/03/dan-oshea-flash-challenge.html
http://steveweddle.blogspot.com/p/uncle-oscar.html
http://www.thecrimefactory.com/2011/10/issue-1/
http://web.archive.org/web/20100112112849/http://beattoapulp.com/stor/2010/0103_sw_MissedFlight.cfm

CITY OF THE LOST by Stephen Blackmoore

The winner of the signed copy of CITY OF THE LOST by Stephen Blackmoore is ... ASYLOS!  Congratulations, Asylos! Send me your address and I'll get this in the mail ASAP!

Again, thanks to all of you for participating. Now, for some cupcakes!


Strawberry Cupcakes &
Fresh Whipped Cream

Ingredients

One box vanilla (or strawberry) cake mix - prepare as directed
Prepared whipped cream - See recipe below
One pint fresh strawberries sliced in half

Directions

Bake cupcakes following the box directions and allow cupcakes to completely cool.
Top cupcakes with clouds of whipped cream then place a strawberry half on top of each little cake.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Whipped Cream Recipe

1/2 cup heavy cream, well chilled
2 tbsp confectioners' sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Combine the heavy cream, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl.
With an electric mixer set on medium speed, begin beating the cream mixture, increasing the speed to high as cream thickens to avoid spatters Beat until soft peaks of whipped cream form.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

City Of The Lost by Stephen Blackmoore


I've never met a zombie that I didn’t like.

That is so not true. Zombies are gross, disgusting. They stink like rotten meat baking in the desert sun, and they’re always oozing all kinds of bodily fluids while dripping flesh all over the freakin’ place.

I’ve never met a zombie that didn’t make me puke… would be more accurate.

Well, not until I met Joe Sunday, that is!

One look at the cover for City Of The Lost and I knew, just knew, that I was going to fall in love with Joe Sunday. I mean, come on… look at him. Look. At. Him. He’s a hottie… with a perfectly kissable jaw line, messed up hair that my fingers long to touch, eyebrows with a sexy but distinctive arch, and a hole in his chest large enough to see the street lamp just down the road from where he’s standing.

Yeah, about that -

Joe Sunday is your average “leg-breaker for hire,” the kind of guy that most of us wouldn't date, and definitely not the kind of guy that if you did choose to date, you’d take home to meet your Mamma. We first meet up with Joe at Henry’s Bar and Grill checking up on his friend, and coworker, Julio. Julio had been sent by their back-stabbing boss, Simon, to retrieve an ancient stone from some guy named Giavetti. But ever since meeting with Giavetti, Julio’s been acting a little strange. Mumbling about his hands not being his hands, breaking his bottle of beer, attacking the bartender, attacking Joe,  and ending the very first scene in this novel by jamming the broken bottle into his throat and… dying, I’d say Julio isn't quite himself anymore.

Now, Julio’s behavior and death doesn't just have Joe asking questions, it has his boss, Simon, confessing to knowing and killing Giavetti back in his younger days. After telling some pretty unbelievable stories, Simon puts Joe in charge of getting rid of this Giavetti guy, finding the stone, and breaking the news to Julio’s wife about Julio’s death. That last part would have been easy to do had Julio not shown up at his home as a newly risen member of the walking dead, and a puppet being pulled by the tight strings of Giavetti.

After walking into a world of chaos and total disbelief, Joe finds himself battling it out with Julio, losing his life, waking to find himself the best zombie Giavetti has ever created, and on the hunt for an ancient stone with the power to grant immortality. 

In this story you’ll read about the one thing Joe needs to eat every day to keep from rotting; a social-working witch that wants to save all the little, not-so-human misfits in Los Angeles; an incredibly crazy Nazi wizard named Dr. Neumann, who happens to know the secrets behind the ancient stone’s power; a midget with razor-sharp teeth; a demon tending bar that likes to talk in riddles; an officer seeking revenge;  the truth behind Giavetti’s beauty secrets; and a beautiful woman named Samantha Morgan... holding one hell of a grudge.

And the stone - wanted by all the characters cast in this deliciously written book - not only has the power to grant immortality to those that seek it, but has the power to destroy the magical world Mr. Blackmoore has so perfectly hidden in plain sight within the City of Angels.  Some want the stone to save others. Some want the stone so they can live forever. And one person is willing to do anything to use the stone for the purpose of destroying another… even if it means killing Joe Sunday in the process.

While there might not be any love scenes in City Of The Lost, there’s definitely enough sexual tension between Joe Sunday and Samantha Morgan for City Of The Lost to be added to Sabrina’s Month of Love. I mean, honestly, I’d gladly let Joe Sunday eat the heart out of my chest… as long as he doesn’t shoot me in the head and have my body crushed into pulp at a gravel quarry. Well, actually, knowing me… I’d probably give my heart to him anyway.

Book Contest:  If you leave a comment on the blog, one winner, chosen at random,  will win a signed copy of City Of The Lost by Stephen Blackmoore. Comments must be posted by Tuesday, February 21, 2012.  Winner will be announced Wednesday, February 22, 2012.

City Of The Lost by Stephen Blackmoore can be purchased from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Stephen Blackmoore is a writer of pulp, crime and urban fantasy. His short stories and poetry have appeared in Needle, Plots With Guns, Spinetingler, Thrilling Detective, Shots, Demolition, Clean Sheets, and Flashing In The Gutters. To learn more about Stephen, visit his blog, L.A. Noir.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I'm Still Madly in Love with Oscar Martello

Sabrina's Month of Love

Valentine's Day... the day of love.

The day of red roses and boxes of chocolate.

The day of romantic dates with beautiful flowers.


The day that belongs to Oscar Martello.

Yep, you heard me correctly. Oscar Martello... the older man that stole my heart. Oscar Martello... the man that can make my soul shiver with excitement while using a ceramic hunting knife. Oscar Martello... the man that has me wearing french maid outfits in my dreams. *sigh*

It probably won't come as surprise to many of you when I tell you that my heart still belongs to Oscar.  I think out of all the characters I've read about and fallen in love with over the last couple of years, Oscar... Oscar stays at the top of my list 'cause he likes to play hard to get. I mean, really... this time last year, whenever I wanted my Oscar fix, I could head on over to Steve Weddle's blog and read close to a dozen short stories. Now? Well, now I have to search the Internet and hope that I stumble across a word or two... if I'm lucky, I'll stumble across an entire story available to the public.

Thankfully, Oscar landed on the Do Some Damage blog with a new short story just before Christmas. You can catch up with Oscar on a previous post ----->>>>> HERE.

And you can read the newest short story here ----- >>>>> THE RETURN OF OSCAR MARTELLO!

And since I'm a sucker for giving things away... one lucky commenter, chosen at random, will get a box of candy and a My Heart Belongs to Oscar Martello button! Now, really, who wouldn't want something like that?!

Steve Weddle is an editor, short story writer, and novelist. A former English professor, he holds an MFA in creative writing from Louisiana State University and currently works for a newspaper group. His fiction has appeared in numerous literary and crime/noir journals. In 2009, Weddle and six crime fiction writers created DoSomeDamage, where he blogs on Mondays. In 2010, Weddle and John Hornor Jacobs created Needle: A Magazine of Noir, one of the top journals for contemporary crime fiction. He lives with his family in Virginia.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I Think it's Time for More Cake


Sabrina's Month of Love

Another Better Than Sex Cake recipe, and a link to all the stats for one of my favorite men... Jack Reacher!



Better Than Sex Cake – Version Two
·        1 (18.25 ounce) package devil's food cake mix
·        1/2 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
·        6 ounces caramel ice cream topping
·        3 (1.4 ounce) bars chocolate covered toffee, chopped
·        1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

Directions
1.     Bake cake according to package directions for a 9x13 inch pan; cool on wire rack for 5 minutes. Make slits across the top of the cake, making sure not to go through to the bottom.
2.     In a saucepan over low heat, combine sweetened condensed milk and caramel topping, stirring until smooth and blended. Slowly pour the warm topping mixture over the top of the warm cake, letting it sink into the slits; then sprinkle the crushed chocolate toffee bars liberally across the entire cake while still warm. (Hint: I crush my candy bars into small chunks as opposed to crumbs - I like to have pieces I can chew on!)
3.     Let cake cool completely, then top with whipped topping. Decorate the top of the cake with some more chocolate toffee bar chunks and swirls of caramel topping. Refrigerate and serve right from the pan!