Thursday, May 21, 2015

Spot Check

After a long, lonley winter at sea, any woman would look good, but those who greeted Captian Cook's crew in New Zealand in 1796 left a really long lasting impression -- their faces were swathed in red ocher and olive oil that stained the sailors' faces when they embraced.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

After they returned to the ship, the sailors' faces weren't the only things that were "spotted". Outraged by his men's amorous cheekiness, Cook put each and every one of the sailors on report -- the first time in naval history that a blemished complexion led to a blemished record.

Courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger
Friday, May 1, 2015

May Releases


The Tang Dynasty, Book Five
By Jeannie Lin
May 1, 2015

After a failed assassination attempt on a corrupt general, Bao Yang is a wanted man. Taking refuge with an ally, Yang accidentally compromises the man's daughter when they're discovered alone. To save her honor, he must marry the beautiful Jin-mei immediately!

In Yang's arms, Jin-mei feels alive for the first time. She's determined not to lose him, even if it means joining his perilous mission... But when she realizes just how destructive Yang's path could be, can she convince him that their life together could be so much sweeter than revenge?

I can't wait to read this sequel to The Sword Dancer. I love Jeannie Lin historicals! 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Fun Fact Saturday: Medieval Folk Remedies

Medieval folk remedies were used to treat illness, cast out or ward off evil and ensure good crops. Folk remedies included stuffing mattresses and pillows with herbs, laying herbs on the body, making herbal infusions for external use and herbal teas for internal use. Medieval folk remedies extended beyond the use of herbs and also included superstition and using animal urine and excrement.

Outlander (2014-)
Angelica, or wild celery, was used as a remedy for coughs. Angelica leaves were made into necklaces and worn to ward off illnesses and to protect against witchcraft. In medieval times it was believed that angelica was the only herb not used by witches. Growing angelica in the garden or keeping angelica in the home was considered a defense for a woman suspected of being a witch.

Anise, a licorice-flavored herb, was used as a treatment for hiccups, headaches, asthma, insomnia, lice, nausea and infant colic. Anise was also used for bad breath and as a perfume.

Blackberry was used to treat gout, bleeding gums, burns and dysentery.

was used to treat jaundice, hemorrhoids, gout and arthritis. Buckhorn was also used as a laxative.

Burdock was used to treat leprosy, tumors, skin infections, ringworm and fever.

Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe in Outlander (2014-)
During medieval times, it was believed that wearing buttercups in a bag around the neck would cure insanity. Buttercups were also used to treat jaundice.

Caraway was used to treat indigestion, gas and infant colic.

Cinnamonwas used to treat colds and the flu.

Coltsfoot was a remedy for asthma, coughs, shortness of breath, fever and inflammation.  

Comfreywas used as a remedy for broken bones. In medieval times, different cultures used comfrey to heal broken bones in different ways. Some cultures boiled comfrey and crushed it into a paste, soaked cloths in the comfrey paste and wrapped the affected area with the comfrey-soaked cloth. Some cultures boiled or heated comfrey and placed the warmed plant on the affected area. Comfrey was also made into teas. In Lithuania, comfrey was made into an infusion or tea and drank to treat broken bones. Comfrey tea was used to treat lung and gastrointestinal ailments and disorders.

Caitriona Blafe as Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser
Outlander (2014-)
Dill was used as a digestive aid.  

Eel skin tied around the knees was believed to be a treatment for cramps. 

A toothache treatment in medieval times was to touch the tooth of a dead man. In Lithuania, it was believed that a wart could be treated by rubbing the wart with the fingers of the dead.  

Garlic and mustard were used to ward off the plague. 

Goose Droppings were used to treat baldness. To treat, goose droppings was applied to the bald spots.

was a headache remedy. To treat a headache with heather, the herb was boiled in water and applied directly onto the head.

Tristan and Isolde (2006)
During medieval times, mint had any uses. Mint was used to treat gout. It was also used to calm the nerves and as a digestive aid. In addition, mint was used for bad breath.

Rosemary was a remedy for gout and dandruff.

Saffron was used to treat jaundice and insomnia.

Sage was used as a cure-all during medieval times. Wet sage was used as bandages. Sage-infused vinegars were used as disinfectants. Sage was also used to treat snakebite, epilepsy, intestinal worms and lung and chest ailments.

St. John's Wort was a treatment for snakebite. It was believed that the herb could drive away evil spirits. On St. John’s Eve, Christians would have bonfires, burning St. John’s Wort to ward off evil spirits and ensure healthy crops.St. John's Wort was also used to treat fevers.

Thyme was used to treat depression. As with other herbs historically used to treat depression, mattresses were often stuffed with thyme as a remedy for depression. Thyme was also used to treat coughs, intestinal worms and digestive disorders.

Yarrow was used to treat jaundice, inflammation, bleeding and as a mild sedative.

Courtesy of Sophie Reynolds via
BuckthornBuckthorn was used to treat jaundice, hemorrhoids, gout and arthritis. Buckhorn was also used as a laxative.

Read more :

Medieval folk remedies were used to treat illness, cast out or ward off evil and ensure good crops. Folk remedies included stuffing mattresses and pillows with herbs, laying herbs on the body, making herbal infusions for external use and herbal teas for internal use. Medieval folk remedies extended beyond the use of herbs and also included superstition and using animal urine and excrement.

Read more :
Medieval folk remedies were used to treat illness, cast out or ward off evil and ensure good crops. Folk remedies included stuffing mattresses and pillows with herbs, laying herbs on the body, making herbal infusions for external use and herbal teas for internal use. Medieval folk remedies extended beyond the use of herbs and also included superstition and using animal urine and excrement.

Read more :
Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Show Must Go On

In 1828, Nelson Howard's role as "bareback rider" in the Buckley and Wicks Circus took on new meaning when his costume failed to arrive on time. Undaunted, he stripped down to his long johns, which -- dubbed "circus tights" -- have been the preferred costume for circus performers ever since.

Reese Witherspoon in Water for Elephants (2011)
Another nineteenth century performer's choice of costume was more calculated. What to wear if you're the most famous French circus aerialist, heart-throb, and body beautiful to boot? Between somersaults, the performer gave it a lot of thought -- and his name -- to the answer: a leotard.

"If you want to be adored," Jules Léotard advised, "put on a more natural garb which does not hide your best features."

Courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger.
Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April Releases


Contours of the Heart, Book Three

By Tammara Webber
April 27, 2015

She’s his one moment of sacrifice in a lifetime of survival.

He was damaged and wild, but resilient.
She’s always been obedient; now she’s restless.

Home for the summer between college and med school, Pearl Torres Frank knows two things: Boyce Wynn is the embodiment of everything she should run from, and everything she wants to run to. Rebellious and loud. Unconcerned with society’s opinion of him. Passionate. Strong. Dangerous.

And one more trait he hides from everyone but her:

 I can't wait to read this book!! The first book in the series is one of my all-time favorite New Adult novels.



By Harper St. George
April 1, 2015

The moment Merewyn sets eyes on the warrior standing atop a Viking raiding ship, something inside her stirs. By all rights, she should fear him, should run from him, yet she cannot help but be drawn to him.

Eirik has never before taken a woman captive, yet Merewyn inspires a longing that calls to the darkness within him. He takes her back to his homeland as his slave, where they finally succumb to passion. And as the lines between captor and captive blur, Eirik realizes they have crossed into dangerous territory…

I love me some Vikings! 

 What's on your must-read list this month? Do share!

Book blurbs from authors' website.
Friday, March 27, 2015

My Friday Love

Things I loved this past week...

Hart of Dixie. Farewell, Bluebell. Oh, how I'm going to miss you and your small-town charm.

I'm not ready to say goodbye to you and all the people in town. I love them all so much.

These people are my Friday night pleasure, my little piece of Heaven every week. They're like a popsicle on a hot summer day. Sure, they can be silly and stupid at times. But they are fun! They fill me up with sunshine and make me smile. They make me forget my troubles for an hour.

 So thank you, Zoe and Wade, Lemon and Lavon, George and AB.

It's been a pleasure watching you these four years. I'll miss you forever.

Kiss of Steel. So apparently I'm WAY behind the times because I'm only now reading Kiss of Steel, which was published back in 2012. I hate to say it, but I never considered reading the London Steampunk series by Bec McMaster because it's... Well, it's Steampunk. For some reason I've never enjoyed reading books in this genre. I don't know why. I love historical romance and Alpha heroes very much. Maybe it's because I'm more interested in real history than alternative history. *shrugs*

Anyway, I'm glad I picked up Kiss of Steel. Ohmygod, I love it!! And Blade!! He's my new favorite book boyfriend. *swoon* The story is amazing, too. It has fabulous characters, oodles of pulse-pounding action, and loads steamy sexual tension. I can't turn the pages fast enough! Seriously.

I can't wait to read the rest of the books in this awesome series.

What are you loving this week? Do share!
Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Five Ideas for a Victorian St. Patrick's Day

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! I don't do much for the holiday, except wear green in honor of my Irish ancestors on my father's side of the family. Oh, and indulge in a Shamrock Shake from McDonald's. I used to love those bright green, frosty treats from my childhood. Unfortunately, the last time I tried one --maybe a year or two ago--it just didn't taste as good as I remembered. So this year, I'll skip that old tradition and perhaps get a yummy drink from Starbucks or eat a St. Paddy's Day cupcake instead.

Here are five ways you and your family can celebrate St. Patrick's Day, the Victorian way.

Cameron Diaz in Gangs of New York (2002)

Did you know that the first St. Patrick's Day parade wasn't in Ireland, but in New York in 1762? Stationed in Boston due to the French and Indian War (known in Europe as the Seven Year's War), a group of Irish men serving in the British army marched through the streets of New York City.

Today, the largest parades are in Boston and New York, while the oldest continuous parade is held in Savannah, Georgia.

Nicole Kidman in Far and Away (1992)
During the Victorian era, St. Patrick's Day was (as it still is) a religious holiday in Catholic Ireland, its atmosphere comparable to that of Thanksgiving in America; traditionally, one would attend mass in the morning and feast with family and friends in the afternoon.

While the holiday fell in the middle of Lent --the 40 days of fasting that last to Easter-- the Roman Catholic Church lifted restrictions against eating meat for the day so the Irish communities could celebrate their patron saint. As a result, corned beef and cabbage became an extremely popular St. Patrick's Day dish. Other popular traditional dishes include Irish soda bread, baked potato soup and fruit tarts.

Read great literature aloud. Some of the best literature written in the English language was penned by the Irish between 1800 and 1914. Whether you want to read scary stories by firelight or act out a comedy with the kids, these Irish writers will give you what you need:

Leo DiCaprio in Gangs of New York (2002)
  • For a good scare: Introduce your teenage Twihards to real literature with Dracula by Bram Stoker (1847-1912), the first modern vampire novel.
  • For a good laugh: Pick up The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), a hilarious satire of the British upper class.
  • For magic, monsters and fairy maidens: Delve into “The Wanderings of Oisin,” a collection of  poems based on Irish myths (and featuring St. Patrick himself!) by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), who became first Irish writer to win the Nobel Prize in 1923.
  • For a realistic portrayal of Ireland, 100 years ago: Savor the short stories in Dubliners by James Joyce (1882-1941), who is often credited with “inventing” literary modernism
  • For a sing-along dramedy: Rediscover Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950). Shaw remains the only writer to have earned both a Nobel Prize and an Oscar for the same work–his stage play and screenplay for Pygmalion, which was later adapted into the beloved musical My Fair Lady. 

In the 1850's, the Industrial Revolution, well, revolutionized the concept of the greeting card, transforming it from an expensive, hand-made object d’art into a mass-produced piece of ephemera that one could purchase in an ordinary store.

When one thinks of St. Patrick's Day in the Victorian era, one can't evade the Irish potato famine, which lasted from 1845 to 1852, killing one million Irish men and women and forcing another million to leave their homeland. Caused and exacerbated by the British Parliament's mismanagement and neglect, the "Great Famine" prompted the rise in Irish nationalism and unrest that led to the war for independence in 1919-1921.

Today, historians refer to the famine as a watershed moment that initiated Ireland into the modern era--and as an event that need not have happened.

So while you feast on beef and cabbage and potato soup, there's good reason to take a moment to be grateful for simple things like the freedom to enjoy goofy, green-dyed food with your family and friends.

Courtesy of Elaine K. Phillips via
Monday, March 16, 2015


The Prince of Wales arrived in the United States in the 1920's and people were impressed with how quickly he could get into and out of his pants, which were equipped with a newfangled contraption -- the zipper. Zipper sales zoomed.

James D'Arcy & Andrea Riseborough in W.E. (2011)
Nine years later, a women's dress manufacturer out to spark business used zippers as a gimmick -- but it wasn't until eminent designer Elsa Schiaparelli put zippers on women's backs in 1936 that women could say, "Darling, help me with this, would you please?"

Elsa Schiaparelli evening gown circa 1935

Mad Men (2007-2015)
Courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger
Saturday, March 14, 2015

Fun Fact Saturday: Medieval Meat Dishes

Meat played a key role in cookery in the 11th-15th century. There was a wide range of dishes made especially for the rich and nobles. In a typical lord of the manor's kitchen there was a provision for spit roasting and broiling of meats on a surprisingly large scale. Feasts and banquets often required many types of meat to be roasted and the castle kitchen had to be able to cope with this demand.

The White Queen (2013)

There was enormous variety of methods for the preparation and presentation of meat dishes and this reflected to class structure of the day. There were simple recipes as cooked by peasants who had limited access to meat and little space in which to cook it, to incredibly elaborate recipes cooked by teams of people in the  medieval castle kitchens of the rich and powerful.

Merlin (2008-2012)

Blawmanger was a common meat recipe using rice and minced chicken. Ground almonds were sometimes added. Simple but staple.

Broiled Venison was a dish reserved for the rich and a popular meat recipe at medieval banquets and feasts. Essentially, the meat was scored or parboiled and then larded before being spit roasted. A basting sauce of red whine and ground ginger, poured over the meat as it roasted on the spit, added extra flavor and richness.

Pork Roast with spiced wine basting was a similar type of dish. The basting sauce's ingredients were red wine and spices such as garlic and ground coriander. Pork was often treated in the same way.

Courtesy of
Sunday, March 1, 2015

March Releases


Highland Heirs, Book Three
By Paula Quinn
March 31, 2015


Known for her beauty and boldness, Abigail MacGregor must preserve her clan’s dangerous secret: that her mother is the true heir to the English crown. If the wrong people find out, it will mean war for her beloved Scotland. To keep peace, she embarks for London, unprepared for the treachery that awaits—especially from her wickedly handsome escort. He is the enemy, but his slow, sensuous kisses entice her beyond reason.


General Daniel Marlow, loyal knight and the kingdom’s most desirable hero, would rather be on the battlefield than transporting a spoiled Highland lass. But Abby MacGregor is unlike any woman he’s ever met, in a ballroom or in his bedroom. Captivated by her daring spirit and seduced by her lovely innocence, Daniel must choose between betraying his queen, or giving up the woman who would steal his country—and his traitorous heart.

 I just read the second book in this series and really liked it, so I can't wait to read Abigail's story.  Paula Quinn's books always have loads of action and romance.
What's on your must-read list this month? Do share!

Book blurbs from authors' website.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015

WIP Wednesday

Normally I enjoy revisions. I especially love them when I have endless pages of notes. That wasn't the case this past week. I had so many notes to sort through, I felt like I was doing a 2,000 plus jigsaw puzzle and couldn't find the crucial corner piece. Why, oh why, did I have so many notes for one chapter?

I was overwhelmed by my notes. So what did I do? I worked on a different chapter.

Days passed. I made great progress on that other chapter. Unfortunately, the one my CP is waiting to read just sat there gathering dust...until I forced myself to sit down and tackle my notes. 

Of course, that's when my laptop decided to get an attitude and wouldn't let me open Word.

Apparently some updates were corrupted. Or the laptop was possessed. I'm still not sure which one is the truth. Anyway, my hubby fixed the problem. It took him an entire night to figure out what was wrong, but in the end he saved the day. Hooray for hubbies who can fix computers, even though they don't work for Google.

The very next day I got to work on my revisions. I started with a plan: to organize my notes. I didn't worry about dialogue tags or pretty prose. Instead I cut and pasted until my notes were in order, and then I began to flesh out the scenes. And you know what? It worked.

The moral of my story: Ignore the big picture if it scares you. Focus on smaller goals instead -- whatever helps you hurdle the obstacles in your path. Also, never give up. No matter where you are in your process, just keep moving forward. It's the only way to get ahead and reach your goals. 
Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Cold Cause

From the time of Louis XIV, the French court was a magnet and a model for nobles from all over Europe and even as far away as Russia.

Marie Antoinette (2006)
In fact, Elizabeth Petrovna, Empress of Russia from 1741 to 1762, imported all her clothes from France, shunning the homegrown finery. Her court soon followed suit, and from mid-century on, grew immersed in French language and culture, as well as dress. Her successor, Catherine II, disgusted with the extravagance of French dress, attempted to turn the tide -- but to no avail.

Marie Antoinette (2006)

Other European rulers passed similar edicts to curb yearnings of their glamor-hungry subjects. The most successful was King Gustav III Sweden, who designed a national dress and decreed that nobles must wear it, instead of lavish French style.

Gustav III:s äktenskap, a Swedish mini-series (2001)
He won out only because the climate was on his side. Vast panniers, garlanded silks, and fine leather shoes could not withstand the snowbound Swedish winters.

Courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger
Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Day in the Middle Ages

Valentine's Day gained popularity during the Middle Ages. Lovers celebrated the day by exchanging love notes and simple gifts such as flowers. The idea of linking Valentine's Day with love in the Middle Ages was strengthened by the notion that birds began to look for a mate during this time.

Adelaide Kane and Toby Regbo, Reign (2013-)

In fourteenth and fifteenth century France and England, poets further promoted the concept of linking Valentine's Day with romantic love. Geoffrey Chaucer wrote in the 14th century Parlement of Foules:

For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne's day'
Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.

The first known Valentine is said to have been written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. The greeting is part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.

Max Irons and Rebecca Ferguson, The White Queen (2013)

Historians also say that Saint Valentine of Rome sent a letter signed "From your Valentine" to his sweetheart, who was the jailer's daughter, a day before he was executed on February 14, 498 AD. This phrase is still popular among lovers.

One very popular legend of Valentine's Day states that the festival originated from the Feast of Lupercalia -- a fertility festival celebrated in mid February by ancient Roman during pagan times. The festival paired young boys and girls through a lottery system who would fall in love and marry.

Courtesy of
Wednesday, February 11, 2015

WIP Wednesday

Sometimes I doubt myself and wonder if I should give up my dream of becoming a published author.

Today is NOT one of those days. =)
Wednesday, February 4, 2015

WIP Wednesday

Monday is a hard day for me to get into "Writing Mode". There always seems to be a lot of things I need to accomplish on the first day of the week, and I struggle to open my WIP.

 I need to spread out my chores throughout the week. I think it'll help me squeeze in some writing time.
Sunday, February 1, 2015

February Releases

Covent Garden Cubs, Book One
By Shana Galen
February 3, 2015

A master thief...
Marlowe runs with the Covent Garden Cubs, a gang of thieves living in the slums of Seven Dials. It's a fierce life, and Marlowe has a hard outer shell. But when she's alone, she allows herself to remember a forbidden time and name.

A lord suffering from ennui...
Maxwell, Lord Dane, is bored with the same balls, the same debutantes, and the same demands from his mother. When an investigator locates the lost daughter of the Marquess of Lyndon, Dane is intrigued. He agrees to introduce the girl to Society and assist in tutoring her in etiquette, but the lady is a less than agreeable pupil.

Descent into a criminal underworld...
Marlowe knows she'll never escape the Covent Garden Cubs. She's not safe, even among the diamonds and silks gracing the new King's ballroom. Satin, the gang's leader, plans a major racket and needs Marlowe's talents to succeed. When Dane stands in Satin's way, the earl enters a world of danger and violence, where the student has become the teacher and love is the greatest danger of all.

I love the premise of this book.

Electric Empire, Book One
By Viola Carr
February 10, 2015

In an electric-powered Victorian London, Dr. Eliza Jekyll is a crime scene investigator, hunting killers with inventive new technological gadgets. Now, a new killer is splattering London in blood, drugging beautiful women and slicing off their limbs. Catching the Chopper will make Eliza’s career - or get her burned. Because Eliza has a dark secret. A seductive second self, set free by her father’s forbidden magical elixir: wild, impulsive Lizzie Hyde.

 When the Royal Society sends their Enforcer, the mercurial Captain Lafayette, to prove she’s a sorcerer, Eliza must resist the elixir with all her power. But as the Chopper case draws her into London’s luminous magical underworld, Eliza will need all the help she can get. Even if it means getting close to Lafayette, who harbors an evil curse of his own.
Even if it means risking everything and setting vengeful Lizzie free …

 I'm not a huge Steampunk fan, but I'm intrigued by the premise of this debut book.

Darkest London, Book Six
Kristen Callihan
February 24, 2015

When Adam's soul mate rejected him, there was more at stake than his heart. After seven hundred years of searching, his true match would have ended the curse that keeps his spirit in chains. But beautiful, stubborn Eliza May fled-and now Adam is doomed to an eternity of anguish, his only hope for salvation gone . . .

No matter how devilishly irresistible Adam was, Eliza couldn't stand the thought of relinquishing her freedom forever. So she escaped. But she soon discovers she is being hunted-by someone far more dangerous. The only man who can help is the one man she vowed never to see again. Now Adam's kindness is an unexpected refuge, and Eliza finds that some vows are made to be broken . . .

I love this series!!


Breaking Nova, Book Two
By Jessica Sorensen
February 4, 2015

Nova Reed can't forget him -- Quinton Carter, the boy with the honey-brown eyes who made her realize she deserved more than an empty life. His pain was so similar to her own. But Nova has been coming to terms with her past and healing, while Quinton is out there somewhere, sinking deeper. She's determined to find him and help him...before it's too late.

Nova has haunted his dreams for nearly a year -- but Quinton never thought a sweet, kind person like her would care enough about a person like him. To Quinton, a dark, dangerous life is exactly what he deserves. And Nova has no place in it. But Nova has followed him to Las Vegas, and now he must do whatever it takes to keep her away, to maintain his self-imposed punishment for the unforgivable things he's done. But there's one flaw in his plan: Nova isn't going anywhere...

I have the first book in this series on my Kindle. I need to read it this year, now that the sequel is out.

What's on your must-read list this month? Do share!

Book blurbs from authors' website.
Saturday, January 31, 2015

January Wrap-Up

It's the last day of January and time for a monthly wrap-up post.

January was a decent month in spite of the cold weather. I may not have crossed everything off my must-do list, but I did something.


1) Revise All the Words. I revised another chapter. Five times. And then I sent it off to my CP, Natalie.

She gave me a lot of helpful feedback, which made me rethink my action sequences.

I revised the chapter again, sent it off to Nat, and got her seal of approval. Only a few teeny tiny tweaks were required to make the chapter everything I wanted.

2) All the Pretty Photos. I updated the photos on my blog. Want to see? Click here, here, and here

3) Craft Attack. I got crafty and created some promo images for my WIP.

4) Show Me the Money. I renewed my RTBookReviews subscription.


 1) Sweet Tooth Treats. I indulged in pizza and a cupcake at my mom's birthday celebration.

2) Movie Marathon. My BFF and I saw four movies in one weekend.

3) Books, Glorious Books! I read 3.5 books.

How was your month? Did you do anything fun or noteworthy? Do share!