Archives for July 2016

In the Kitchen: Blue Apron: Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches

In theKitchen


Hi, Everyone!

In an effort to spend less time meal planning and more time reading, I decided to give Blue Apron a try. It costs less than taking the whole family to a restaurant, and it seemed like a fun way to add some new recipes to my repertoire.

Tonight: Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches with Aioli & Potato Salad


I may have forgotten I had this recipe, so by the time I got around to making it my tomato wasn’t quite green anymore. Oops.



I ended up making this for lunch, so I saved the fingerling potatoes for another day and swapped out the potato salad for some roasted cauliflower . . . I just chopped a head of cauliflower, tossed it in a bag with salt, pepper, olive oil, and curry powder, and roasted it at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes.



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Om nom nom nom, cauliflower!


There was a LOT of bread in this recipe, so I didn’t feel bad about omitting the potatoes, especially for lunch. The calorie count is listed at 750 cal/serving, so cutting out some of those just seemed like the right thing to do.



I mean, I *could* have used my fingers to bread the (nearly) green tomato, but I don’t get to use my tiny tongs very often . . .

I like to toast my bread on a baker’s rack; both the top AND the bottom of the bread get nice and crunchy.







If I make it again: Husband and I are tomato purists, and though this recipe sounded delicious when we picked it, and definitely LOOKED tasty on the plate, we prefer our tomato sandwiches raw.




Melissa kitchen




Sizzling Summer $250 Cash Giveaway!

sizzling summer giveaway

Sizzling Summer $250 Cash Giveaway
July 27th to August 16th


I am so excited to join this awesome group of Authors & Bloggers in this fantastic giveaway!! What are we giving away? We’re giving away $250 in Paypal Cash! Or alternately you can choose a $250 Gift Code!

Sponsor List

I Am A Reader
Jennifer Faye ~ Romance Author
Caroline Clemmons
Simple Wyrdings
Lori’s Reading Corner
Aubrey Wynne: Vintage Romance for Today
Deanna Lynn Sletten, Author
Glistering Bs Blog
Diana’s Book Reviews
Krysten Lindsay Hager author
Leora Krygier Author
A Journey Without Map
B. Kristin McMichael
Laurisa White Reyes, Author
{A Leisure Moment} A Casual Conversation About Our Love For Literature
Erin Unger- Writer of Killer Romance
Darcus @ Rainy Days and Pajamas
Every Free Chance Books
Julie Reece
Pauline Creeden, Author
The Late Bloomer’s Book Blog
Julia E. Antoine
Author Mary Ting/M. Clarke
Suzi Love


Giveaway Details

$250 in Paypal Cash (alternately the winner can choose a $250 Gift Code)


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Ends 8/16/16 – Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via PayPal. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the authors, bloggers and publishers on the sponsor list. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.


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Summer Reading Challenge: Untethered by Julie Lawson Timmer (spotlight)

Summer Reading Challenge


written by Julie Lawson Timmer
published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: When Char Hawthorn’s husband dies unexpectedly, she is left questioning everything she once knew to be true: from the cozy small town life they built together to her relationship with her stepdaughter, who is suddenly not bound to Char in any real way. Untethered explores what bonds truly form a family and how, sometimes, love knows no bounds.

Char Hawthorn, college professor, wife and stepmother to a spirited fifteen-year-old daughter, loves her family and the joyful rhythms of work and parenting. But when her husband dies in a car accident, the “step” in Char’s title suddenly matters a great deal. In the eyes of the law, all rights to daughter Allie belong to Lindy, Allie’s self-absorbed biological mother, who wants the girl to move to her home in California.

While Allie begins to struggle in school and tensions mount between her and Char, Allie’s connection to young Morgan, a ten-year-old-girl she tutors, seems to keep her grounded. But then Morgan, who was adopted out of foster care, suddenly disappears, and Char is left to wonder about a possible future without Allie and what to do about Morgan, a child caught up in a terrible crack in the system.




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Melissa’s Review: Nightfall Gardens by Allen Houston

Nightfall Gardens (Nightfall Gardens, #1)

Nightfall Gardens (Nightfall Gardens: Book One)
written by Allen Houston
published by Flycatcher Books, 2013

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, AmazonBook Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
It’s creepy and awesome: much more than I was expecting. I had a few, “oh, that’s going to be a vocabulary word” moments while reading, but I think with a few literary upgrades this could be an awesome adult novel, too. I’m new to the MG niche, and I’ll be honest, I had nightmares the first few nights after I started reading, but I bet my teenage self would’ve loved the darkness (and, you know, the *teeny* hint of romance). I’m going to start the next book in the series just as soon as I get the kids to bed.

4.5 stars


Would I recommend it: Yes. I sort of want to see it as a real-life Disney movie. You hear that, Disney? Let’s get working on it!



About the book – from Goodreads: 
Vain Lily Blackwood and her shy brother Silas wonder if their family will ever settle in one place long enough to lead a normal life. When a mysterious stranger arrives claiming to be their uncle, they discover their parents have been hiding a secret that turns their world upside down.

The two are kidnapped to Nightfall Gardens, the family’s ancestral home, a place shrouded in ancient mystery, where they meet their dying grandmother and learn of an age-old curse placed on Blackwood females.

Lily must take over as protector of the house and three haunted gardens that hold mythical beasts, fairy-tale nightmares and far worse. If she doesn’t, the evil trapped there will be unleashed and bring on a new dark age.

While she deals with malevolent ghosts inside the house, Silas is put to work in the gardens, where one wrong step means death.

Along the way, they search to unlock the secrets of the house and to stop the creatures in the gardens before time runs out and the world is destroyed.


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Gina’s Review: Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Tell the Wolves I'm Home

Tell the Wolves I’m Home 
written by Carol Rifka Brunt
published by Random House, 2012

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: I ugly cried because of this book, and if you’ve been reading my reviews long enough, you know that’s a good thing. If I have to use a half a box of tissues to mop up the tears a book caused, it was good. I went into this book knowing after I read the back of it that I was going to cry. A book with a character who has AIDS can’t end well, especially if it takes place in the ’80s. However, this book was written so beautifully that every chapter pulled me in deeper, and the more I learned about these characters, the more I felt. I cried with them. I laughed with them. I rooted for them. This book makes you think and question yourself. What would I do in this situation? How would I feel? It’s definitely a book you could read in a matter of days. I stayed up all night trying to finish it. I needed a few cups of coffee the next day to function like a human.



“That’s the secret. If you always make sure you’re exactly the person you hoped to be, if you always make sure you know the very best people, then you won’t care if you die tomorrow.”


5 stars


Would I recommend it: Yes, read it!



About the book – from Goodreads: In this striking literary debut, Carol Rifka Brunt unfolds a moving story of love, grief, and renewal as two lonely people become the unlikeliest of friends and find that sometimes you don’t know you’ve lost someone until you’ve found them.

1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life – someone who will help her to heal and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.

At Finn’s funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn’s apartment and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she’s not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most.

An emotionally charged coming-of-age novel, Tell the Wolves I’m Home is a tender story of love lost and found, an unforgettable portrait of the way compassion can make us whole again.


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Summer Reading Challenge: The Choices We Make by Karma Brown (spotlight)

Summer Reading Challenge


The Choices We MakeThe Choices We Make
written by Karma Brown
published by Mira, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: Following her bestselling debut novel Come Away with Me, Karma Brown returns with an unforgettable story that explores the intricate dynamics between friends and mothers

Hannah and Kate became friends in the fifth grade, when Hannah hit a boy for looking up Kate’s skirt with a mirror. While they’ve been close as sisters ever since, Hannah can’t help but feel envious of the little family Kate and her husband, David, have created—complete with two perfect little girls.

She and Ben have been trying for years to have a baby, so when they receive the news that she will likely never get pregnant, Hannah’s heartbreak is overwhelming. But just as they begin to tentatively explore the other options, it’s Kate’s turn to do the rescuing. Not only does she offer to be Hannah’s surrogate, but Kate is willing to use her own eggs to do so.

Full of renewed hope, excitement and gratitude, these two families embark on an incredible journey toward parenthood…until a devastating tragedy puts everything these women have worked toward at risk of falling apart. Poignant and refreshingly honest, The Choices We Make is a powerful tale of two mothers, one incredible friendship and the risks we take to make our dreams come true.




About the author: KARMA BROWN is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer, who probably spends too much time on her laptop in coffee shops. When not writing, she can be found running with her husband, coloring (outside the lines) with her daughter, or baking yet another batch of banana muffins. Karma lives just outside Toronto with her family. COME AWAY WITH ME is her first novel.

Find Ms. Brown here: webTwitter, Goodreads



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State of the Blog – July 25, 2016

State of the Blog


Hi, Everyone!

It has been a very busy week here at EFC. So many books, editing jobs, and new web designs! And I am loving every minute of it! =)

As you can see, the new blog design is finished!!! I absolutely love it! Jane at DigitalArtsi did a fabulous job on the backgrounds and design elements. Lori at Imagination Designs did another fabulous job pulling everything together for the blog and for EFC Services, LLC. She also did our Facebook header, sidebar buttons, and other graphics. Lori is wonderful to work with, too. Thank you, Lori!!!!

And now for some really exciting news . . .

We have officially launched EFC Promotions! We will have details regarding our first tour soon.

  • Authors, if you have any questions about our promotional services or would like to schedule a promotional event, please email us at:
  • Bloggers and Reviewers, if you sign up to be a tour host this week, you will be entered in a giveaway for a $15 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. If you are an international host, you will be eligible to win $15 in books from Book Depository. Sign up using this Google Doc. The drawing will be held on August 1.

Stay tuned for more reviews, giveaways, and other fun stuff! Be sure to check out our Current Giveaways page for all the open giveaways.


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June 2016 Subscription Boxes

what's in the box 4

Hi, Everyone!

Here are our subscriptions from the month of June:


Muse Monthly

June muse

Lit-Cube Stars Hollow Monthly


Stars Hollow Monthly

So far, I love the Stars Hollow monthly box. I’m currently using the “Oy With the Poodles Already!” wallet, and the coffee cupcake bath bomb was awesome. I love the bracelet, too! I can’t wait to see what July brings!



june 2016 uppercase

Owl Crate

Owl Crate June 2016 (2)

Owl Crate June 2016 (1) Owl Crate June 2016 (3)

Fresh Fiction


june fresh fiction


Ever After

june ever after

The Bookish Box



This was a special edition Harry Potter-themed Bookish Box. I couldn’t pass it up. I love it!


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June 2016 Birchbox




june 2016 ipsy




DSCN2940  DSCN2945


This is the finished Kiwi Crate for last month! Such a cool Pinball machine!

What do you think of month’s boxes?

Do you subscribe to any boxes? If so, which ones? I did include my referral links, so if you’re interested, please feel free to use them! I know I would appreciate it.




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Story Time: Alfred the Time Traveling Dinosaur by Brandon Cullum


Story Time


Alfred the Time Traveling DinosaurAlfred the Time Traveling Dinosaur 
written by Brandon Cullum
published by Brandon Cullum, 2015

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, AmazonBook Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
My kids thought it was entertaining, but I didn’t really enjoy it. The rhythm and rhyme weren’t quite right, and I found myself stumbling to read it aloud. It could have just been the after-dinner-ZOMG-is-it-bedtime-yet mood I was in, but I barely made it through the whole story. I’d like to tell you I’ll give it another go sometime when I’m not as cranky, but, well, I won’t.

I like that readers can vote on Alfred’s next adventure, but I’d recommend Mr. Cullum spend a bit more time polishing his text.



Would I recommend it: Nope. The rhymes and rhythms don’t flow and there’s lots of superfluous text. Try THIS BOOK instead.


About the book – from Goodreads: Alfred is a dinosaur. He is big and blue and and a little mean as he rules the Jurassic. But he finds himself alone, not getting to play with the other dinosaurs. It might take a little time travel, but Alfred is on a journey to be a good friend.

This is the first book in the Alfred the Dinosaur series. The story for each book is voted on by people like you! Find  more details on how you can join the adventure in the first few pages of the book.


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Gina’s Review: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

The Invention of Wings

The Invention of Wings 
written by Sue Monk Kidd
published by Viking, 2014

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
I didn’t know if I was going to like this book. I love historical fiction, but this time period is not one I usually dive into. I think that’s one of the best things about reading something that you wouldn’t normally pick out for yourself: you go into it thinking there’s a chance you won’t like it, but then the characters and the story take you on a journey. It’s a journey you fall in love with and want to travel to the end. That’s what this book was for me. It was a journey into a time period I wasn’t completely familiar with, and when I was finished, I liked it a lot. The characters felt real, and what’s great is that these are people in history. They did exist and though there were a lot of liberties taken I believe now I want to do a little more research.



“My body might be a slave, but not my mind. For you, it’s the other way round.”



Would I recommend it: Totally! I think this would be a great book for someone who enjoys historical fiction.


About the book – from Goodreads: Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world—and it is now the newest Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 selection.

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.


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