I'm so thrilled to share a recipe from an author I admire and love, Jodi Picoult. Jodi was kind enough to read my first novel, The Violets of March, and share some lovely words for the cover, and I will never forget her incredible generosity to me. Jodi's new novel, THE STORYTELLER, is coming out on February 26, and I am so excited about this novel. It takes place in a bakery (swoon) and involves long-buried secrets (my favorite kind of story!). If you haven't already pre-ordered your copy, you can do so here. And, super exciting for my readers and friends over on Books & Bites (like us HERE on Facebook if you haven't already!), Jodi kindly shared the recipe for the chocolate-cinnamon buns that are featured in the book, and I'm so over-the-moon excited about being able to share them here. I made them recently with my boys, and let me tell you, they were absolutely divine (seriously, big-smile-I'm-in-heaven good). I photographed them on my great-grandmother's china (imagine the stories that these dishes could tell from a century of family Sunday dinners!). Jodi Picoult's Chocolate-Cinnamon Buns (As written about in The Storyteller, coming on February 26 in bookstores everywhere!) Ingredients 1/2 cups warm milk, 110 degrees 2 teaspoons active dry yeast 1/2 cup sugar, plus a pinch 1 large egg, room temperature 1 large egg yolk 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface 1/4 teaspoon salt 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for bowl and muffin tin 1/4 pound bittersweet chocolate, very finely chopped or shaved (note from Sarah: I ground the chocolate in my mini food processor) 1 teaspoon cinnamon (note from Sarah: I used a bit more---I love cinnamon!) Directions 1. Butter a large non reactive bowl for dough-set aside. 2. Butter a 12 cup muffin tin-set aside. 3. Pour warm milk into a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast and pinch of sugar over milk; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. 4. In a bowl, whisk together ¼ cup sugar, 1 egg and 1 egg yolk. Add egg mixture to yeast mixture, and whisk to combine. 5. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and salt. Add egg mixture, and beat on low speed until almost all the flour is incorporated. 6. Change to the dough hook. Add 3 tablespoons butter, and knead on low speed until flour mixture and butter are completely incorporated, about 10 minutes. Dough will be sticky. (Note from Sarah: I added some extra flour at this stage--just a few tablespoons.) 7. Butter a large bowl. Place dough in bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a dish towel. Set aside in a warm place to rise until dough doubles in size, about 1 hour. 8. If dough is not in a warm area it may take longer to rise. A simple trick to help warm your dough-place a large pan of boiling water on the lowest rack in your oven and place bowl of dough on the next highest rack. This should help the dough rise. 9. Prepare filling: Place chocolate, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl, and stir to combine. Add 3 tablespoons butter and toss to combine. Alternately, place chocolate, cinnamon and butter in food processor and pulse to combine. Set aside. 10. Once dough has doubled, turn on to a well floured surface and deflate. Let dough rest for 5 minutes. 11. With rolling pin, roll dough into large rectangle shape. Sprinkle filling over dough; roll the dough into a log and slice into 2’ pieces. Place each slice in muffin cup. Cover muffin tin with plastic and let sit for 15-20 minutes or until dough rises slightly. 12. Pre-heat oven to 350. 13. Bake for approximately 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. 14. Share and enjoy! I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did! And, happy reading! I can't wait until The Storyteller is out! P.S. New to my novels? You can learn about them here. The Violets of March was a Library Journal Best Book of 2011, and my most recent novel, Blackberry Winter, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. I hope you enjoy them! My new novel, The Last Camellia, will be out on May 28! You can pre-order it here.

Book-loving friends, I want to tell you about a new venture that I started with my good friend and fellow Penguin author, Camille Noe Pagan. Books & Bites is a Facebook page where we share great reading recommendations paired with yummy food, drinks and recipe ideas. We're having a ton of fun with the site, and love creating a place where we can talk about our two favorite things: books and food! We'd be delighted if you came on over and "liked" our new Facebook page, here, and shared with your book-loving friends, too!

Today, I came home from an amazing day out in the snowy mountains with friends and family and checked my mail to find my Department of Journalism at Western Washington University alumni newsletter. On the front cover was the news that my mentor, Pete Steffens, had passed away. I immediately teared up, thinking of the moment this beloved journalism professor of mine stopped me in the middle of campus one foggy morning in Bellingham, Washington, after I'd taken a quarter away from writing and decided to pursue science and biology (I know, this still makes no sense to me). Pete, ran into me in front of the science building and he said something like, "Sarah, where have you been? We've missed you!" We walked together for a while, and I didn't have a good explanation for why I forsake my lifelong dream of being a writer. Truthfully, I felt lost. Maybe I was scared that I didn't have what it took. I don't know. But Pete saw through me that day. He asked me to come back. He told me I had great potential. He believed in me. He made me feel special. And because of this, I changed the trajectory of my career. That's the power of someone who cares. Someone who stops and takes an interest in someone else. Pete Steffens did this for me. It is not an understatement to say that because of Pete, I went on to write thousands of articles for magazines, more than 5,000 blog posts for various publications, and nearly six books. In the back of my mind, there has always been Pete's voice telling me that I can do it, telling me that I am talented, important

My dear readers and friends: My new novel, THE LAST CAMELLIA, will be out in about four months! It is now available for pre-order online, and I'd be so, so honored if you took a moment to reserve your copy. This way, you'll be among the very first to receive your book on release day. Here are a few ways you can pre-order right now: Amazon Barnes & Noble Powell's Here's a bit more about the book: On the eve of the Second World War, the last surviving specimen of a camellia plant known as the Middlebury Pink lies secreted away on an English country estate. Flora, an amateur American botanist, is contracted by an international ring of flower thieves to infiltrate the household and acquire the coveted bloom. Her search is at once brightened by new love and threatened by her discovery of a series of ghastly crimes. More than half a century later, garden designer Addison takes up residence at the manor, now owned by the family of her husband, Rex. The couple’s shared passion for mysteries is fueled by the enchanting camellia orchard and an old gardener’s notebook. Yet its pages hint at dark acts ingeniously concealed. If the danger that Flora once faced remains very much alive, will Addison share her fate? I cannot wait to share this novel with you. It's a bit more mysterious than my other novels, and if you're a fan of the Downton Abbey series (the new season airs this Sunday!!!!), I think you'll love the setting (just saying!).

As you may know, my family and I rented a houseboat on Seattle's Lake Union for four months as my "office" while I completed my fifth novel (which just happens to be set on a houseboat in Seattle!). Well, I just turned in the book to my editor and it's also time for us to say farewell to this little floating home we have come to love so much in the past months (seriously, if we weren't already in the process of building a new house, we might just attempt to buy it!) It was a lovely experience, and I couldn't have written this novel without it. I thought I'd share a few photos from our final day on the houseboat: