Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday Something: Chicken, Vegetable and Rice Casserole

I decided to start a Sunday Something series.

It used to be Sunday Poetry but since there are a lot of other interesting things I find myself wanting to post on Sunday, I decided it could be anything—including food.

I have a pretty busy life. I want to get as much time to write when I'm not working so even though I love good food, I want to be smart about making sure I'm getting as many meals as I could out of the couple hours I put in in the kitchen.

My husband and I like to go out spontaneously—whether it's for a nice drive or just to go shopping, and lately, I've been finding myself scrambling to put dinner together at eight on a Sunday evening. By the time it's done, I've got no time for anything else before hitting the sack so I've come up with a solution.

I've decided to spend a couple of my early Sunday morning hours making a big batch of something that we could have for dinner and lunch for a few days. It's quite nice actually because I get to feel good about letting my husband sleep in (he's not a morning person but then neither am I) while I get to enjoy the solitude of a still-darkened kitchen, sipping my coffee and getting things together for the big meal I'm doing. It frees up the rest of my day and saves me from having to make dinners and lunches for a good couple of days.

Last week, I made a pretty amazing meatloaf (for the first time ever) but I haven't been back to blogging then so I don't even think I have photos for that. We'll skip that until I make it again.

Today, I went with a healthy and relatively simple casserole from a recipe I've found online and tweaked a bit.

It's got chunks of chicken, lots of veggies, and earthy wild rice to add to the texture and taste.

The original recipe is from (submitted by Campbell's Kitchen) called One-Dish Chicken, Vegetable and Rice Bake but the recipe I'm posting is one I've changed up slightly and taste-tested myself.

Prep Time: 15 minutes (including chopping, browning and putting casserole together)
Cook Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes
Servings: 6
Price Range: $ (max being $$$) Most of the ingredients are kitchen staples and can also be easily swapped.

  • 1 (10 oz) can of condensed Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup (can be substituted by Mushroom or Chicken variety)
  • 1 and 1/8 cup of chicken broth (without the added salt if possible)
  • 6 ounces chopped, fresh vegetable mix (carrots, white mushrooms, broccoli crowns) (may substitute with frozen version—don't thaw)
  • 1 cup mix of wild rice and white long grain rice (such as basmati or even jasmine)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided in half
  • 2 large or 3 medium boneless chicken breasts, cut in bite-sized pieces
  • pinch of paprika
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • Heat up oven to 375 degrees F; set rack in the middle.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet and cook chicken until no longer pink and meat starts to brown. Set aside.
  • While chicken cooks, chop up vegetables. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, mix soup, chicken broth, rice, vegetables and half the cheese. Season with paprika, salt and pepper. 
  • Spread mixture over a 3-quart shallow baking dish. Top with chicken and the rest of the cheese.
  • Cover tightly with aluminum foil.
  • Bake for an hour. If there's still a lot of liquid, lift one corner of the foil open and bake for another 5 minutes. Take out and let it sit for another five minutes before taking cover off completely.
  • Add more cheese if your heart desires it! 

Make-Ahead Tips:
  • Cook the chicken ahead of time and keep in fridge until ready to use for the next couple of days. Make sure to cook the chicken thoroughly. I don't bother to temp-check when I'm just throwing it into the casserole right away but if you're storing it in your fridge, make sure it's fully cooked.
  • Chop the vegetables ahead of time and seal in a bowl with plastic wrap to keep them fresh.
  • If you find the casserole too liquidy after you take it out of the oven, take a turkey baster and pump some of the liquid out. This lets you suck some of the fluid out without compromising the flavor or the entire casserole itself in case you have the crazy idea of tilting it slightly over the sink to get rid of the extra liquid. Giving it time to sit allows the moisture to settle and be absorbed by the other ingredients.


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Autumn Love

I'm probably not the first one to say this but fall is my favorite season.

The transition of colors from bright greens to a blend of yellows, oranges, reds and browns, the gradual quiet the world's momentum slows down to from the upbeat summer, the coziness of warm fabrics and rich flavors of fall staples like hot chocolate and freshly baked apple pie—nothing else is like it.

Moving to North America definitely gave me an appreciation for the changing of the seasons and the lesson that things don't last forever and you've got to make every moment count.

This fall, I'm determined to enjoy everything I love about this season.

You should too. =)


Crossing Story Worlds

Finally, I'm getting back to writing.

It's was a very slow process. For a while, I wasn't even turning my computer on at all. It's very hard to stay in a story-world when your real life is changing and demanding all of your attention and effort at adjusting.

I have a much more regular schedule now so I can integrate my writing better into my schedule. Also, it's fall (yay!) and with the cooler temperature, I have less things to do outside, which means more time to dedicate to writing. Also, I can actually tolerate sitting in my office and writing comfortably without feeling like I was getting broiled in an oven.

Anyway, I've started on a new story that also occurs in Cobalt Bay. Since I've invested the time and imagination to build this city, I figured, I could use it again and again for a lot of my stories. It also allows me to occasionally re-introduce some characters you may have already run into in previous stories. This new story is slowly cooking in the back burner—I get to it whenever I feel like it.

I've slowly gotten back to writing TMMM. This one was originally set in a vague city in the east coast US but I eventually picked out Boston for it. This is practically on the other side of the country from Cobalt Bay but it doesn't mean that the stories couldn't overlap.

I've decided on having a few characters from the Cobalt Bay series drop in and run into Charlotte. It'd be very minor but this opens the door to maybe let Charlotte and Brandon pop in and say hello in some of the future Cobalt Bay stories.

I don't know if my readers will like it but I think it adds a dimension to the stories and give it a different sense of perspective you may have not had reading the other stories because they were told in first person.

Oh, well. We'll see how it turns out! =)


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Review: MacRieve by Kresley Cole


Ever since I stumbled into Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series last year, I'd been hooked. 

It started with Lothaire, and after devouring that book for a day, I bought and read everything she'd printed for the series in a week. 

I usually prefer my romance contemporary—not a lot of paranormal ones appeal to me.

The world of the Lore and all the creatures in it though, are both so surreal yet real at the same time. We're talking millenia-old beings with incredible powers in a secret supernatural world that has woven so neatly with humanity. As a mere human reading the many books, I couldn't help feeling like I really drew the short straw on species selection. LOL!

The characters are often larger than life—the males are guaranteed Alphas, even those who are vulnerable and scarred. 

With every book, you're guaranteed your fix of dominant, brooding yet endearing males who infuriate and seduce you at the same time. If you don't like the headstrong types, this may not be for you. But if you find out-of-this-world gorgeous, arrogant, physically powerful males irresistible, especially as they fight their demons to love and protect the female who'd captured their hearts, you must read every book from this series. 

You. Simply. Must.

And the books are not just about the males. The females of the Lore and those who somehow become entangled in it, are mostly fierce and feisty. The female leads have strong personalities and always give it as good as they've got. Even the supporting female characters (who are going to get book of their own later in the series because it's unimaginable that they wouldn't), are so well-developed and present in the interwoven plots that their every appearance in the story adds to the experience—and amusement.

Seriously. Nucking Futs Nix, anyone?

Anyway, before I get too sidetracked from an actual review, the point I'm trying to make is—the Immortals After Dark series is pure genius.

It's highly erotic, captivatingly fantastical, and so much fun. It's got the complete formula. And no, it's not all romp and roar—the characters will catch you off guard with how well-developed and relatable they are—even if they have a few hundred or thousands of years ahead of you.

So, MacRieve.

This story has some parallelisms with Lachlain and Emmaline's story but this has a unique conflict of its own.

Will, short for Uilleam, is half of the MacRieve twins—Hot and Hotter (although they are not fond of this nickname).

A childhood trauma marred him young with tragedy, shame, and an obsessive aversion that eventually leads him down a dark, desperate path.

Having been abducted and vivisected (rib-cracking, organ-mincing procedure) by the Order, was the last straw.

Chloe is an adorable yet ambitious soccer star full of attitude about to burst right into the Olympic scene. She's got everything going for her except one thing—her ancestry.

No one else could've possibly been made more unfortunate by the fact that one can't choose one's family. Either side of her parentage has made her a loathed target by the Loreans.

Just as MacRieve was about to go off the edge, the alluring possibility of vengeance brings his fate smack to that of Chloe's.

The fun begins.

The start of their romance is full of sweetness but just as things start to turn around for the both of them, a discovery rips them apart.

Chloe's fortitude through every ordeal she goes through, from the moment she unwittingly gets thrown into the world of Loreans to the emotional betrayal she finds with the only man she feels safe with, is admirable. Many times throughout the book, I kept wanting to pat her on the shoulder and tell her she's a champ. She's been beaten down so many times—especially by the two men she'd trusted to care for her—but she unfailingly pulls herself together to fight and have faith, even with very little to encourage her in that direction. I loved her little mantra: Rub some dirt on it. Some of her trials required a lot more dirt that normally required but the girl kept going.

As for MacRieve—it was a difficult, heart-wrenching struggle to sympathize with his pain after the childhood tragedy that screwed him up, and to want to smack him in the head for failing to see everything he's got to gain if he could only look past his own misdirected hatred. You want to grieve the boy he'd been who was lost that night his life changed forever, and yet you couldn't help but simultaneously adore and admonish the broken beast of a man he'd become. You wonder how he'd ever possibly get over his obstacles in loving Chloe but the fierceness of his love proves to be capable of just about anything in the end.

It's a beautiful book.

As always with any of Cole's IAD books, it's wrought with sexual tension, emotional intensity, a nearly savage struggle to possess and protect, and of course, that sense of impending doom when every stroke of fate in the Lore eventually leads to what I would imagine as one explosive Accession.

MacRieve is a thoroughly intense and enjoyable read and I can't wait for more.

Munro, his twin, looks like he's next.

*Fave Line:

"All she knew was that if she had to feed—she furtively gazed over at MacRieve—she'd do anything possible to avoid a Big Mac." - love the pun here; laughed so hard.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Never Too Late For An Update


It's been exactly two months since I last dropped by in here.

The last two months have been a little crazy—in-laws visit, keeping up with my Wattpad stories, responding to tons of comments and messages from my readers and doing my best to edit Virtue and Vice.

I've also been weighing my options about publishing.

It's very difficult to find a quick and successful route to traditional publishing. Nowadays, it almost seems that publishers want to see your book show potential to make money first before they would even look at it. It's a business—making money is one of the primary goals. I totally understand.

This brings me to the concept of self-publishing.

Most of the work is going to be yours—editing, publishing, marketing, etc. The expenses too. But it gives you the opportunity to get it out there and gain an online presence and build readership. Maybe then, once it's good enough, publishers will actually pay attention to it.

It's almost simpler when I was just writing for my own enjoyment and I was my only reader.

Now that a world of possibilities and immense support from my readers have opened and surged in, I can't help but think, what if I can do more?

Anyway, this is what will mostly be on my mind in the next little while.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Current Project: The Mischievous Mrs. Maxfield on Wattpad!

Hey everyone!

Wondering what's been keeping me busy? I've been working on a practice-serial on Wattpad. Something to keep me busy, creative and writing...

Check it out here: The Mischievous Mrs. Maxfield


Eighteen-year-old Charlotte Samuels thought she'd be stuck waiting tables at Marlow's until her father's debts are paid off—in about ten thousand years or so.

She definitely didn't expect a marriage proposal from the arrogant Brandon Maxfield who was blackmailed by his father to make her his wife if he didn't want his least favorite cousin to run Maxfield Industries.

Charlotte's instinct was to say HELL NO! but she's stumped by a few obstacles:

1.) His old man Martin Maxfield is dear to her heart and recently told her that he's got a year or so left to live.

2.) She gets a million dollars if she stays married to Brandon for a year.

3.) She would rather like the opportunity to teach the attractive but awfully rude man a few lessons he didn't think he needed from a 'teenage gold-digger' which was his term of endearment for her on their first date—er, business meeting.

So what's a girl got to do, right?

Sure, she was young and a little rough around the edges but there was something her would-be husband didn't know about her yet—she's nothing like he ever expected.


Copyright 2013 by Nina Tippett. All Rights Reserved. 
Image in cover art by ForeverxButxNever at


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Review: Fever by Maya Banks


Ah, where to begin?

Maybe first with a complaint that this book kept me up last night and caused me two hours of writing time this morning. It was well worth it. The story stayed with me long after I finished reading it. With the amount of romance I read, it's not easy for a story to sink into my consciousness and never leave.

This is the second book of the Breathless Trilogy. I loved the first book. This second one had me fall apart temporarily. I'm a little afraid to read the third one coming in August.

The book is focused on Jace, Mia's older brother, who unlike his two other friends, didn't start out rich but struck gold with his joint venture with his friends. He's the guy who raised his little sister, the brooder, and the other half of the Jace-and-Ash show notorious for their propensity for threesomes.

If you're the kind of reader who gets uncomfortable with the following things: sexual dominance, male high-handedness and kinky threesomes, this book may not be for you because this book runs away with top awards for all three.

Jace already starts out not to be your ideal guy except in the sack and the money department. For a romantic, a guy who doesn't mind sharing his woman doesn't always win your vote. This flaw sets out the tricky beginnings of his complicated relationship with Bethany. It's a stab wound he inflicts on himself and continues to bleed from, from start to finish of this book. While at first I wanted to grab him by the hair and smack him on a hard surface somewhere, his poor judgement in the beginning helped me sympathize with him in his struggle to make sense of how he felt about Bethany and how something that should've been so casual could suddenly mean everything to him. He struggles with the overwhelming change in his perspective and does his best to deal with all the obstacles in his path—including his friendship with Ash and the fragile hold he had on the woman he could never let go of. He screws up a lot but he comes back each time more determined than ever to love, protect and provide.

I loved it when he said, "Yeah, apparently, when I decide to be an asshole, I go all the way." A lot of his concerns were legit but I think his biggest redemption is that he's crazy about her. Just. Plain. Crazy. About. Her. You'd feel bad for the poor guy, I swear.

Bethany, on the other hand, isn't your typical heroine. Sure, she's got the young, innocent, jaded kind of feel about her at first but you quickly discover just how dark her past is but she surprisingly manages to stay in your favor even if sometimes you think she could've done so much better instead of letting it all come to this. I'm biased in the fact that I always root for the young, naive virgins meeting a man of the world and making them putty in their hands but Bethany managed to elicit my fierce vote for her to find love, happiness and security in this story. She had a lot going on that could've totally backfired and work against her but Ms. Banks accomplished the feat to humanize Bethany and endear her to the readers so well, you just couldn't find it in your heart to be disdained by her even if she does some really stupid things.

I won't give away too much except for the plain advice that keep an open mind when you read this book. The characters are familiar, their bonds palpable, their ups and downs relatable but they will take you out of your comfort zone and make you ask a lot of questions.

Those who shy away from BDSM (like I did because suddenly they were everywhere and became more bland than vanilla) might roll their eyes at this and say, 'Here we go again', but if you spend the time absorbing the whole book, you'll realize that the love scenes, intense and wicked as they may be, are necessary to the story, whether in taking the characters to places they wouldn't want to revisit or further deepening their desire for more than just sex—complete and absolute submission of the heart and soul. And don't worry, this book isn't one love scene bridged to another by short paragraphs. The story really is like a fever—starts hot and uncomfortable that you just know something is up—and it continues to burn, play with your consciousness and logic and leave you helpless and desperate until you wake the next day and realize everything's alright now.

I love this story.

It's a darker, more erotic version of Pretty Woman almost, but these characters are more intense, their demons more relentless, the heat of their attraction more scorching.

This is 5 stars for me.

Ms. Banks also did a great job of letting us have a closer glimpse at happy-go-lucky charmer Ash McIntyre who is going to send the next book's pages up in flames. Can't wait.

***I forgot to add: The scene with a drunk Bethany is hilarious. She was so adorable. One of the best scenes ever.


Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday Poetry: Under The Map Of Stars

Under The Map of Stars

When shadows and light play
As embers and char would,
I see where we meet.
In the stolen quiet, 
In flashes of gold-streaked gray,
Under the map of stars
In the countdown to morning,
When the world is still
Except for the matching beats
Of our hurrying hearts.

I wish to have no secret
That your name be a hymn,
Escaping my lips
When I escape for a moment.
I wish to see the blue above us
Cast over our touching heads.
Yet the morning dew has laid claim
To the damp earth beside me
Where in the eve you have lain.
Instead of gratitude,
I loathe the light in its glaring clarity
Showing me without pause or mercy
The empty space beside me
Cold, stark and void,
A haunting in daylight
Until night falls again.

-N. Tippett, 2013

It's been ages since I wrote poetry. I didn't think I could anymore. 
I'm thinking of star-crossed lovers, of the desperate and in love. They make the best romantic tragedies, and the most humorless comedies, the most wistful of poems.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Risk of Falling Now on Wattpad!

Since I can't get enough of sexy, millionaire bosses, here's the new serial I started in Wattpad.


Maxine Moss arrived in Pacific City to start a brand new life complete with her first real job as a marketing assistant in Hedenby Holdings. Life was supposed to be simple but the unexpected happens. After a disastrous first meeting with her infuriatingly sexy boss, an unlikely friendship starts with the man she just couldn't quite figure out. The waters become turbulent and unpredictable as a childhood crush, a perfect boyfriend-material, a crazy starlet and an irresistible attraction get thrown into the mix. As Maxine's world expands into unchartered territories for a small-town, big-dreams kind of girl, she finds herself caught in the spotlight and in a lovestory that keeps getting complicated. Will she run in the opposite direction or will she free-fall?


It's fun to write because I'm writing it as I go along, developing the story with every post so it's not as exhausting as plotting out an entire novel.

The only problem now is I want to post on this all the time I'm neglecting my other writing projects. Can't win! =P

*I do not own the rights to the image used in the cover of this book.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday Poetry: Who Ever Loved That Loved Not At First Sight

Who Ever Loved That Loved Not At First Sight

It lies not in our power to love or hate,
For will in us is overruled by fate.

When two are stripped, long ere the course begin,
We wish that one should love, the other win;
And one especially do we affect
Of two gold ingots, like in each respect:
The reason no man knows; let it suffice
What we behold is censured by our eyes.
Where both deliberate, the love is slight:
Who ever loved, that loved not at first sight? 

-Christopher Marlowe, 1564-93

Love at first sight.

Cynics would probably tell you that there is no such thing. It's already hard enough to fall in love with someone you already know a little bit. How much more with a complete stranger?

For great romantics like Marlowe, Shakespeare and I (yes, I really did just put the three of us together),  it could happen because well, it's written in the stars. Or at least that's the idea here.

The poem tells us that fate overrules our will—that what is meant to be will take place long before we recognize the destiny set upon us. That a part of our soul recognizes the other before our logic can even begin to process the bits and pieces of reasoning as to why we are attracted to this person and why we feel the way we do about them.

As a romantic writer, I'm ironically logical. Sometimes, I seek to justify why someone could feel a certain way about a person and yes, dicing it into facts takes away the magical quality from it but what I always find is that no matter how long a list I make as to why Girl loves Boy and vice versa, the very origin of the whole thing comes back to the simple fact that they are just meant to be (at least in my world).

Although I don't believe in soul mates, I do give credit to that instinct we feel when the person is just right. It clicks in. I know, it's a line from the movies but I know exactly what it means because I've experienced it myself. All the other issues that you just couldn't figure out with the last person seem so effortless and natural when the right one comes along. It doesn't promise to be perfect but it makes things easier and most importantly, it makes everything worth it.

No one expects to run into someone and fact sheets drop on them—yes, this is your destined mate, no questions asked—I don't believe that's the point here. 

It will not always hit you clear-eyed. All that it means here, I think, is a sense of precognition that there is something to this person and to this meeting that go somewhere very meaningful and precious and that's what makes you take the next step. As to whether you actually eventually get there or not is a combination of circumstances and our own decisions about our fears, hopes and dreams.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Firefly: Sneak Peek

Here's a sneak peak of the new book I'm working on—one that's dark, seductive and enthralling even for me to write.

Let me know what you think! =)


If I believed the bedtime stories, monsters were to be found in the shadows, lying in wait, poising for an attack, and that if I were smart, I would never let myself be caught alone in the dark.

When I was eighteen, I realized that the dark concealed many things and not always just the monsters.

In the dark, we allowed our hearts’ true nature to show and in the secrecy of the shadows, we committed our crimes—big and small—and expected no repercussions because no one can stand to witness what they could not see. No one could tell whether it was man or monster or that they may be one and the same.

What I will tell you is not a simple story.

The details of reality blur at the edges of the mystical in this tale but what you need to understand is that it’s not about that. 

It’s about the interplay between the shadows and the light and the people who were caught in between them for a brief moment, for generations and for eternity.

My name is Lily Carlson.

Let me start by telling you that on the summer of 1984, I fell in love with a monster.


Review: Losing It by Cora Carmack


*might contain some spoilers

Losing It was an easy afternoon read with lots of oh-my-god-face-palm moments, standing true to the awkward lead characters Carmack champions. A lot of books showcase flawed leads, the most endearing of which are those who are just not quite perfect and do a series of mortifying things. Bliss Edwards in this book is definitely one of them.

One thing that really attracted me to the story was the fact that the characters are theatre majors. Having been an active part of the theatre myself when I was in university, it was refreshing to have it featured in the story. The crazy parties and head-splitting hangovers are so true—in my case anyway although I was the sober eye who saw everything and everyone and was amused by it. =)

Anyway, Garrick is the typical leading man (I actually love stereo-type characters most of the time)—an attractive, Brit-accented, Shakespeare-toting-and-quoting artist type and while I have no qualms about why innocent Bliss (oh, man the many puns that name suggests) finds him sexy, my vote actually went to Cade—the cute, boy-next-door best friend who is just the sweetest. 

I'm usually one to go for the brooding type but the way Cade was with Bliss was just so natural and endearing. Except for the initial meeting between Bliss and Garrick in the bar that night she decided to lose her V-card, there weren't that many moments when I felt that Bliss was fighting the inevitable and falling for Garrick. 

It was like, yes, they meet and become attracted and she chickens out but finds out next week that he's forbidden goods but they give in anyway. I didn't feel a lot of building emotion for Garrick. He was there and she was falling for him. I just had to go with that idea and stick with it. 

Maybe this is why the book isn't a total runaway winner for me. As a reader, I need to feel that progression of feelings by the female lead for the romantic hero—whether it's a gradual falling or a plunge-off-the-side-of-the-cliff kind. And this is probably also why I rooted for Cade because there were a few give-away moments between him and Bliss that hinted at what was beneath the surface and their long-standing history carried more weight. The attraction to Garrick could've easily happened with the bartender or some other random guy in the bar. The only thing that stands out for me when it comes to them was their little domestic life when illness hit. I liked this part but I think there could've been more.

The student-teacher romance isn't all that new but there weren't a lot of obstacles in it for them in this book really. Gabriel's Inferno thickened this plot like double-churned ice cream while in this book, it was like here-are-some-obstacles-have-a-little-fun-pulling-your-hair-and-gnashing-your-teeth-together-and-then-you're-done-go-live-happily-ever-after. But then, that's why it's an easy read. You're not going to use up a box of Kleenex or miss your late-afternoon cooking show with this. It was fun, funny and feel-good. 

And since I'm in Cade's camp, I'm looking forward to Faking It, although I'm not so sure about the kind of girl he's going to fall for. But hey, if it works beautifully in the end, then I'm sold. =)


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday Poetry: Sudden Light

Sudden Light

I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell:
I know the grass beyond the door,
The sweet keen smell,
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.

You have been mine before—
How long ago I may not know;
But just when at that swallow's soar
Your neck turn'd so,
Some veil did fall,—I knew it all of yore.

Has this been thus before?
And shall not thus time's eddying flight
Still with our lives our love restore
In death's despite,
And day and night yield one delight once more?

-Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1928-82

Do you believe in soul mates who continue to find each other throughout their many lifetimes?

As romantic as I am, I'm not really sure. 

In a broader, more spiritual sense, Rossetti speaks of that in this poem but I'll scale it down to one lifetime where you may have loved someone before that you've lost or walked away from and found that years later, by some unexpected stroke of destiny, you cross each other's path once again and remember exactly just what you meant to each other before.

I believe that an old love can resonate far into someone's life. It is something you will never completely forget—something that will always own a piece of your heart and soul because you've given that part away a long time ago and never got it back. 

The question is whether that love will have enough power over you to reel you back in when past collides with the present. When the scales of memory fall off your eyes and you see clearly what had been, will you 'delight once more' in it?

I guess in the end it will depend on the circumstances that broke you apart in the first place and whether what brought you together is stronger and fiercer that what drove you away.

As a writer, I enjoy this poem because it makes me think of the possibilities that love doesn't end in the here and now—that sometimes the story continues into the future after a detour. 

This poem actually depicts quite well the struggle of my characters in Love and Vice. Time will tell whether what they once had is worth fighting for in the end and because time is never someone's constant friend or enemy, you can never be certain which side it will be on.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Confessions of a Romance Addict

It isn't always easy to declare out loud that one is a romance-novel fan.

In this day and age when the opportunity to become a hipster is more than ever present and social media is a very visible podium, it isn't easy to step up and declare to a room full of people that you like sappy stories and sizzling sex scenes.

Serious (starchy) book-readers would probably look at you and grimace as if you had just announced that you actively scout for sexually-transmitted diseases.

Yes, the world is full of illuminated intellectuals. People who read romance are usually considered a lower breed. Tsk. Tsk. Sadly, it sometimes feels like a dirty secret one just can't say out loud.

For years, I've devoured tons of books about love stories of all sorts but I've never openly admitted it. But having been submerged in the realm of romance readers and writers alike in the last couple of weeks, I've found a group of the brave who read what they damn want and not give a fig about it. Social media and the blogosphere have definitely made it more accessible to anyone who nurses a secret fascination about the illicit word.

Here are some really great sites and blogs I frequent myself where you can get the latest dish on romance and chick lit books, whenever you feel like you need a dose.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Review: Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren


So during the first few pages, I had a constant wrinkle between my brows.

From the blurb, it was obvious they start out with a love/hate relationship where boy metaphorically pulls on the girl's hair a lot but I found their animosity toward each other a bit strong. It almost felt like boy was yanking on girl's hair hard and girl was kicking boy in the balls. I winced a lot during the first few chapters. 

There's a subtle flirtation between two disagreeing characters usually that speak of a chemistry they won't quite admit but the tone in the first big chunk of the book was laid thick with not just mild disapproval but almost like all-out hate and the jump from absolute hostility to being attracted to each other was a bit of a stumble for me there to read but although shaky, it eventually grew comfortable.

I usually find difficult male characters intriguing but really, Bennet Ryan started out as a rude, crude and despicable grump, and not even remotely sexy. There's a dark, brooding type and there's a classic jerk and it took a lot in this story to redeem him to someone a little more acceptable. He was such a bully and very irritating. And he was such a jerk to her. The effort to redeem him by making him seem perplexed at times by his reaction to Chloe was apparent but I didn't really feel like it justified why he was such a jerk to her in the first place. Sure, he was inconveniently attracted to her for months but I don't think blue balls is enough to make a guy forget his good manners. He really seemed genuinely bewildered by his attitude but he hasn't had episodes of an out-of-body experience to really give him the excuse to not even distinguish being cranky to being such an ass-hat. I know the title is Beautiful Bastard but he was too much of it, I think, that it was hard to really cheer for him.

He gets better but the changes in him didn't really make me go oooohhh-aaaahh. I think that with how big of a jerk he was in the beginning, he ought to have done a little bit more to bring himself back to the good side.

Anyway, as for Chloe, she seemed incredibly gifted as everyone seems to declare so but she held almost no resistance to Bennett. In a way, it's a bit startling considering she wasn't even just wary about him in the beginning. She hated him so much. That thought aside, I do actually enjoy it when the girl decides not to go the traditional route of offering a lot of resistance first only to break down and give in anyway. I agree with her when she admitted to not understanding why she's a totally different person when he's around. I have a hard time wrapping my head around loathing someone so much one minute and then wanting them like crazy the next especially when he continues to be a jerk to her. The gap lacks a build that helps me get to that next level of feeling that the character feels. I feel like some parts of that budding romance was cut and the before and after were just pinned together haphazardly. 

I love the parts about the underwear. It's kinky without being too weird. 

The parts I loved were the sexy yet unexpected and risky locales. I enjoyed the phone call Bennet takes while Chloe amuses herself. There's plenty of sex but nothing too out there which is a bit refreshing considering the amount of erotica being dished out right now. 

The climax (the plot one, not those generously experienced by both characters in the story) was a bit underwhelming at the pivotal point. I guess I expected something a bit bigger to really drive the wedge between them. The business-issue that caused their rift just didn't seem... romantic, I guess.

I enjoyed it because it was a quick, easy, guilty read. It had the potential for a little bit more emotional power. It was fun in a lot of parts but the chemistry is a bit weak. I didn't mind the two first-person POVs too much. I could distinguish the difference in the voice and tone and it helped Bennett's character a lot to be able to see inside his head. I think that without this, he wouldn't have been able to redeem himself at all.

I wish there was a little bit more at the end but I guess there's a second book that will hopefully say a little bit more about the progress of their relationship even though the main plot will be about another character in the story.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Office Space - Take Two

My work is far from done.

I spent a few hours redoing the office last night. I'm so much more satisfied with it now.

I hate clean up but that's what's next.

Saturday Poetry: The More Loving One

The More Loving One

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.

-W. H . Auden 1907-73

At some point in our lives, we've desired something or someone we couldn't have and that in a lot of these situations, we've found ourselves accepting that fact and consoling ourselves with the hope that with time, it will come to pass.
There's plenty of interpretations for this poem but since I write and read about love, that's where I've focused on this piece.
Sometimes, we are content just to love and admire, happy with the chance of being able to do so over someone so beautiful and majestic like the stars that fill the night sky, unconcerned that like the stars, they are not able to love someone so small and insignificant like ourselves—only a mere speck among the many who gaze at them so longingly.
And with time, we will eventually turn our eyes away and walk on, maybe because reality is filling our world with light and clarity much like the night sky disappearing from our view at the sharp glare of the morning sun. 
Or maybe simply because the rest of our life is straight ahead and not heavenwards, and we are simply not destined to be loved and worshipped by the gods.


Fresh Booklist - March 2013

After more than a month of unusual behavior for me (going into a bookstore and coming out empty-handed), I finally made a few book purchases yesterday at Chapters.

I'm still planning on re-reading a lot of books now that I've committed to doing a proper review for each of them on Goodreads but there had been a lot of fresh material out on the shelve that I just couldn't resist.

Here are some blurbs on the books (sourced from Goodreads):

Beauty Awakened - Gena Showalter

His name is Koldo. He is scarred, powerful, his control legendary-and he lives only for vengeance, determined to punish the angel who viciously removed his wings. But if he yields to the forces of hatred, he will be kicked from the heavens, eternally damned.

She is his last hope. Nicola Lane was born with a defective heart, yet this fragile human shows surprising strength as demons stalk her every move, determined to end her. She is the key to Koldo's deliverance...and his downfall. Though he fights duty, destiny and his first addictive taste of desire, his toughest battle will be the one for Nicola's life-even if he has to sacrifice his own....

A Bridge by Moonlight - Liz Carlyle

Royden Napier, Baron Saint-Bryce, is tall, dark, and ruthless—and on the hunt for a dangerous beauty . . .

On the eve of her escape to the Continent, bold, beautiful Lisette Colburne accepts a proposal she dare not refuse: masquerade as the future bride of the steely-eyed Royden Napier and help him solve his most dangerous case. Soon Lisette is in even greater danger—of losing her heart to the one man with the power to destroy her . . .

Estranged from his aristocratic family, the enigmatic Napier has forged a reputation as Scotland Yard's most relentless police commissioner. He's vowed to bring Lisette to justice—but with every forbidden kiss and every tantalizing touch, he finds himself becoming less convinced of her guilt . . . and more certain he must have her. But when danger touches Lisette, can he save her?

Losing It - Cora Carmack


Bliss Edwards is about to graduate from college and still has hers. Sick of being the only virgin among her friends, she decides the best way to deal with the problem is to lose it as quickly and simply as possible-- a one-night stand. But her plan turns out to be anything but simple when she freaks out and leaves a gorgeous guy alone and naked in her bed with an excuse that no one with half-a-brain would ever believe. And as if that weren't embarrassing enough, when she arrives for her first class of her last college semester, she recognizes her new theatre professor. She'd left him naked in her bed about 8 hours earlier.

Beautiful Bastard - Christina Lauren

An ambitious intern. A perfectionist executive. And a whole lot of name calling. Discover the story that garnered more than two million reads online.

Whip-smart, hardworking, and on her way to an MBA, Chloe Mills has only one problem: her boss, Bennett Ryan. He’s exacting, blunt, inconsiderate—and completely irresistible. A Beautiful Bastard.

Bennett has returned to Chicago from France to take a vital role in his family’s massive media business. He never expected that the assistant who’d been helping him from abroad was the gorgeous, innocently provocative—completely infuriating—creature he now has to see every day. Despite the rumors, he’s never been one for a workplace hookup. But Chloe’s so tempting he’s willing to bend the rules—or outright smash them—if it means he can have her. All over the office.

As their appetites for one another increase to a breaking point, Bennett and Chloe must decide exactly what they’re willing to lose in order to win each other. Originally only available online as The Office by tby789—and garnering over two million reads on fan fiction sites—Beautiful Bastard has been extensively updated for re-release.

Eve of Destruction - Sylvia Day

Class is in, but Evangeline Hollis is struggling to get through the requisite training to be a full-fledged Mark. When her class goes on a field trip to an abandoned military base, passing the course isn’t just a matter of pride…it’s a matter of life and death. There’s a demon hidden among them, killing off Eve’s classmates one by one.
As the body count mounts, a ragtag team of cable TV ghost hunters unwittingly stumbles into the carnage. Now keeping the Mark system secret competes with the need to keep the “paranormal researchers” alive. With Cain on assignment and Abel on an investigation, Eve must fly solo on her hunt to stop a killer before he strikes again.
© Ninya Tippett. All rights reserved.