Feb 232016
 

I’m guest posting at the Fresh Fiction blog today, talking about how one of my recent foodie finds was a bit more exotic than usual. If you’re in the path of the same storm that is heading toward Michigan right now, maybe you’d like to make a big pot of bean soup from the recipe in the post. There’s also a giveaway! Click here to go to the post.

Don’t forget, there is an Anniversary Sale for “Chicken Soup & Homicide” right now. The second book in my Culinary Competition Series is one-year old and on sale for only $.99 until February 25.

 February 23, 2016  Posted by  Uncategorized Comments Off on Guest Post at Fresh Fiction
Feb 142016
 

BetterThanBeforeBetter Than Before
By Gretchen Rubin

It’s that time of year. When resolutions have fallen by the wayside. Many of us have the best intentions to start the year fresh with a bounty of new, life-improving habits. But many times what we intend to do and what we end up doing are very different. It isn’t easy to establish new habits or break destructive ones.

“Better Than Before” isn’t a one-size fits all solution to forming habits. Instead of giving general advice which could work for some people, Ms. Rubin realizes that every person has a different habit-forming personality. First she helps readers decide on what disposition they have: Upholder, Obliger, Rebel or Questioner. Building on that basis she goes on to help people decide their habit-forming styles: lark or owl, sprinter or marathoner, simplicity or abundance lover, etc. These sections were a real eye-opener for me. I loved that it provided a way to zero in on habit establishing methods that work the best. Plus I had never really thought about how beneficial habits are. Of course, if you eat good foods and exercise you will be healthier. But habits also free up mental space. When you do something by habit, you don’t need to think about whether you want or don’t want to do something.

The rest of the book goes through different ways to establish habits like scheduling, abstaining or using rewards. Ms. Rubin gives examples from her own life as well as from her friends and people who have commented on her blog. And the many examples really drive home the point that people form habits differently. So many times I read how Ms. Rubin established a habit, and I would just shake my head. There is no way I would try the methods myself. Most of them sounded like torture since I have a different style than she does. And that is the beauty of this book. Once you decide what style works best for you, there is an abundance of advice to help you establish habits. Personally I found the advice Ms. Rubin dispensed to her sister and brother in-law, both television series writers, to be very helpful. My copy of the book is full of highlights and notes which I plan to use to start my own set of healthy, productive and efficient habits.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

 February 14, 2016  Posted by  General, Review Tags:  2 Responses »
Dec 172015
 

Fudge Brownies & Murder by Janel Gradowski

It’s release day for the fourth book in my Culinary Competition Mystery Series – Fudge Brownies & Murder! The ebook will be on sale for $2.99 (that’s less than the price of a peppermint mocha) for today and tomorrow only – December 17 & 18. If you would like to possibly indulge in some brownies while you’re reading it, check out my Skillet Brownie Giveaway.

I have to say, 2015 has been a pretty awesome writing year for me. I started and ended the year by releasing new books (with another novel and short story in between). Plus, I’m almost done writing Book #5 in the series. Phew! I think I’m going to put my feet up, grab a mug of hot cocoa, and enjoy the holidays with my family. :)

 

Dec 172015
 

CastIronBrownie

Since my new book is Fudge Brownies & Murder, I figured brownies would be the perfect thing to giveaway to celebrate the release. And these aren’t just any kind of brownies. No, they’re made in a miniature cast iron skillet that you can use over and over to make ooey, gooey brownies for two (or one). Use the Rafflecopter below to enter for your chance to win. I’ll choose a winner after Christmas. Good luck!

U.S. entrants only, please.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Dec 032015
 

My PantryMy Pantry
By Alice Waters with Fanny Singer
Published by Pam Krauss Books

This is a lovely, in so many ways, little book about some of the staples in chef Alice Waters’ pantry. While my pantry has far less sophisticated ingredients, I can’t wait to add more gourmet fare using this cookbook. Recipes range from spice blends to homemade cheese. Some recipes, such as the Espelette Hot Sauce, add to your pantry stash. Others, like Lebanese-inspired lentil soup and whole-wheat flatbreads, use ingredients from the pantry. I have a feeling the multigrain porridge, containing brown rice, millet and quinoa, will be a mainstay breakfast for me this winter. For adventurous cooks there are instruction for accomplishing tasks such as making wine vinegar in oak casks, salt-preserving kumquats, and curing gravlax.

This book is like a cookbook jewel. Small in size. Charming illustrations, the full-page pantry drawing before the Table of Contents is wonderful, all drawn by Waters’ daughter – Fanny Singer. Many of the recipes have variations, which I greatly appreciate. Everything is woven together with Alice’s thorough instructions. It’s a book that would be right at home on a pantry shelf, next to the vinegars and flours, to be called on like a trusted friend.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

 

 December 3, 2015  Posted by  Food, Review Tags: ,  2 Responses »
Nov 272015
 

Click HERE to see all of the fabulous deals

Gemma Halliday Publishing is having a sale on boxed sets, including two sets which contain my books. If you’ve been out and about today, battling the crowds, I bet you could use a break. A few mouse clicks is all it takes to get these deals. :) Just click on the banner to go to the sale page. Then enjoy taking advantage of the deals. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

 November 27, 2015  Posted by  The Culinary Competition Series, Updates Tags: , ,  Comments Off on Black Friday Boxed Set Sale
Nov 212015
 

I am so excited to announce that I am starting a street team! If you aren’t familiar with a street team it is basically a group of fans who help support an author by helping spread the word about new books, promotions, contests, etc. to their friends. So what does that mean? For my street team, Janel’s Gems, I’m looking for some social media love. Share links to my new books, let your friends know about sales, review my books, etc. I certainly don’t want anybody to drive their friends crazy, just a post here and there. And what will my street team members get in return?

  • Access to a private Facebook group where you can chat with me (I promise to stop by often) and other members
  • Members-only giveaways for things like cookbooks, kitchen gadgets, and chances to name new characters
  • Sneak peeks of book covers, upcoming projects, recipes, etc.
  • The chance to read new books (ARCs) before they are published

If you love my Culinary Competition Series and would like a chance to be a part of my street team, please fill out the form below. Signups are only open from now until November 30, 2015. Since I have never managed a street team before (I am SO excited to start!) I will be limiting the membership to 20 people for right now. Make sure to leave a valid email in the form so I can contact you if you are chosen.  If you don’t hear from me, keep an eye out for announcements in the future. I do plan on occasionally adding new members in the future. Thank you and good luck!

Nov 082015
 

The Homemade KitchenThe Homemade Kitchen
By Alana Chernila
Published by Potter

The subtitle of this cookbook is: Recipes for Cooking with Pleasure. There are recipes that will be pleasurable for both novice and experienced cooks to try their hand at. Beyond that readers can find chapters on everything from cooking for one to making meals for a crowd. There are basics, like how to cook a variety of vegetables or turn fruit into jam. For more adventurous cooks there is a chapter on cultured foods and recipes for making classic, usually store-bought snacks like cheesy fish or animal crackers.

Alana writes the blog, EatingFromTheGroundUp.com. This cookbook carries on the style of her popular blog. It is beautiful with matte pages, gorgeous photos and charming hand drawn accents, like a page of her favorite inspiring sayings. As I read the introduction I instantly knew I would love this book.

I cook because feeding myself is the one basic, essential, daily requirement that I can do entirely in my own way.

-Alana Chernilla, The Homemade Kitchen

The philosophy of the book is to find pleasure in cooking, doing the best that you can with your ingredients and skills. So you can try your hand at a roasting a chicken or be a bit adventurous and make your own tofu or chevre cheese. There is even a chapter called “Use Your Scraps” with recipes to help reduce the waste in your kitchen.

My favorite chapter was “Feed Yourself”. It’s all about meals for one, a type of cooking I often find myself doing since I work from home. I can’t wait to try the single-serving Shakshuka (eggs in tomato sauce) and The Arlesienne (a French salad with potatoes, tuna, and chickpeas) for lunch. With winter coming I’m looking forward to making the Miso Soup, loaded with tofu and veggies, and Congee with Chicken and Greens, a savory rice porridge. The focus is on good food with a mix of recipes representing countries from around the world. It’s a bit eclectic, but that makes it all the more appealing. The range of recipes completely fits into the idea of creative, nourishing cooking.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

 November 8, 2015  Posted by  Food, Review Tags:  1 Response »
Nov 052015
 

BrownieMasonJar

To celebrate the release of my Culinary Competition Mysteries Boxed Set I am giving away this mini Mason jar mug filled with brownie mix…because the next book in my series is Fudge Brownies & Murder. :) Use the Rafflecopter below to enter. This contest is open to U.S. residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Nov 052015
 

Culinary Competition Mysteries Boxed Set 1-3Need to catch up on reading my Culinary Competition Mysteries before the next book comes out on December 17? Here’s your chance to get the first three books in the series for less the $1 a piece! The ebook boxed set will only be at the bargain, less-than-a-latte price of $2.99 for a limited time, so grab your copy soon. It contains three, full-length novels (including recipes):

Pies & Peril

Chicken Soup & Homicide

Doughnuts & Deadly Schemes

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