Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fitness Challenge Report Card: June 2011

Interested in joining the Fitness Challenge? Please visit the Sign Up post for more information, including the challenge rules. You may leave a comment there or on this post if you'd like to join. Be sure to include your fitness miles goal in your comment.

This month's fitness challenge post is going to be a brief one. I'm posting this late at night, I'm too tired to think creatively and my Friday outdoor bootcamp fitness class starts in five hours! Yikes!

So how did everyone do with their fitness challenge miles* this month?

*ONE fitness challenge miles = 1 mile walked or run for fitness OR = 15 minute increments of other exercise for fitness such as cardiovascular or strength training exercises.

I don't remember if I set my goal for 100 or 115 fitness miles for June, but in any case, I ended the month at 109.3 fitness miles as of today. I'm happy with that. :)

I did my usual fitness classes of spin, strength training, kickbox, bootcamp, as well as swimming laps and a short run or two. I was also able to go to Zumba twice this month for the first time in ages, thanks to my teenage daughter who is out of school now until September and therefore able to "babysit" her grandfather for me in the morning so I could get to the gym for 9 am Zumba class on Tuesdays. Yay! I love Zumba.  : )

If you want to see what I did to keep moving all month long, you can see my June Workout Log.

How did you do with your fitness challenge goal for June?

What kinds of activities did you do to keep moving this month?

Thanks for playing along in the monthly fitness challenge!

: )

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In Death Series Reading Challenge: June 2011

Interested in joining the Challenge? Anyone is welcome to join in at any time of the year at wherever in the series you currently are. See the sign up post HERE
and join the fun!

Link up any In Death posts you made this month here. If you made a post on your blog whether it be a review or commentary, please grab the link to your post and enter in the Mr. Linky below along with your name so we can find each other's latest In Death posts easily.

If you're just keeping a running list of the books as you read them, grab the link to your list post and enter in the Mr. Linky so we can recognize your success this month.

If you're reading or rereading without documenting it on your blog, let me know in the comments which book(s) you read in this month. This will also help me keep track of who's eligible for the challenge giveaway this month!

REMINDER: In order to be eligible for the challenge giveaway in August 2011, you must have read four In Death books between April 1, 2011 and August 31, 2011 and have documented that you have either on your own blog, on goodreads [please leave a link to your profile if we're not already friends there] or you can let us know what you read here in the comments of the monthly In Death Reading Challenge posts. See below for giveaway details!

None! My pattern has become to read an In Death book every other month as opposed to every month and well, turns out June is one of the other months. So many books, so little time...

If you were planning some girl time with Eve, what would you do together?

I think I would suggest working out together and chatting about her latest case--as long as it wasn't too gruesome. Maybe a run through the elaborate gardens of Eve and Roarke's estate.I picture paths that wind through the landscape.Then maybe some laps in the pool before laying out on the sunny patio in the most comfortable lounge chaises ever, sipping the most delicious frozen drinks you could imagine. Then I'd wake up an hour later not even remembering falling asleep.And then I'd realize I just dreamed up the whole thing.;)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Library Loot XL

Summer is officially here! Not only does the calendar say so, but yesterday was the last day of school for my daughters and it's now summer vacation! Yay! They both did really well this year and came home with great end of the year report cards, so they deserve a fun, relaxing summer to recharge for September. Not they have a total break! My high schooler has four books as part of her required required reading and my middle schooler has one. As for me, I welcome a break from that crazy hour in the morning getting them up out of bed and out the door on time. The last few weeks have been a struggle. Not to mention I'd like a break from being the homework police.

Already my girls have been warned that I do not want to play personal short order cook again this summer, so I have decided that the kitchen is open for breakfast between 8-9 am and lunch between noon and 1 pm. If you are not up in time for breakfast, you're on your own. If you are not hungry for lunch at noon because you just ate breakfast at 11:15 am, well... come 2 pm you are on your own for lunch. I am NOT falling for the old "but it tastes SO much better when YOU make it, Mom!" routine. Unless that line is delivered with unsolicited hugs and kisses. I do have a weak spot for that sort of behavior. But shhh! Don't tell them that. ;)

How old were you when you started cooking? 

What were some of the first things you learned how to cook? 

When I was 11 or 12 years old, I liked to bake and would make homemade oatmeal raisin or chocolate chip cookies for my family. That was also around the age that I started to make grilled cheese sandwiches by myself. By high school, I learned how to make lasagna, but it wasn't until after I graduated college and had my own apartment that I truly learned how to cook all sorts of dishes. Thanks to CookingLight magazine. ;) 

I think I'm going to teach my daughters how to cook a few basic recipes over the summer.  

I'd love to hear your beginner recipe suggestions! 

Onto the library loot portion of this post...

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries! This week's Library Loot is at Claire's.

I am happily making my way through the stack of books from my last two library loots, but one of my holds came in so I actually have another book to share this week. In fact, I read this one already!

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

All of this author's books are made from gentle southern charm, family traditions, secrets from past generations, heartwarming friendships, a bit of romance and a touch of magical realism to pull it all together, and The Peach Keeper is no exception. The novel is easy to read as the story and the characters are engaging and the writing flows beautifully. It feels light and smooth as you read it, yet it holds powerful messages about finding your true self, learning to accept yourself for exactly who you are and discovering that you will find happiness if you trust in the power of just being YOU.

What are you reading this week?


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

RWA in NYC: Who's going?

I love this logo for

The RWA (Romance Writers of America) National Conference takes place in NYC next week, which includes a literacy book signing event open to the public on Tuesday to which I'm going. It's a romance readers evening night out to buy some books, support the literacy movement and connect with some favorite romance authors and fellow romance readers, too.

The RWA "Readers for Life" Literacy Signing is a book sale and author autographing event at which thousands of dollars are raised for ProLiteracy Worldwide and the local literacy organization ACE New York. The event will be at the Marriott Marquis ballroom in Times Square next Tuesday, June 28, 2011 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. A couple hundred romance authors will be at the signing with only two hours to navigate the crowds and probably wait in long lines for a minute of time connecting with some of these wonderful women who have not only entertained me, but often also touched my heart in special ways through their stories. Of course, I also have a list of  'new-to-me' authors whom I've been wanting to read, so I'm going to try to see some of those authors, too.

I've been going over the really long list of authors attending [you can view the list HERE] and have come up with a short list of 53 authors to see. Yes, a short list. I'm trying to figure out how in the world I'm going to get to everyone in such a short amount of time and I'm thinking it's not likely. So I'm working on prioritizing my list of 'must see' authors, and let me tell you, it is NOT EASY. I do know one thing is certain...
I am NOT LEAVING without meeting Nalini Singh who is the New York Times best selling author who writes the wonderfully complex and amazing Psy-Changeling and Guild Hunters paranormal romance series. I am such a fan. She is not allowed to leave Manhattan until we meet. lol!

Another very favorite author of mine who I must see is Tessa Dare. I just LOVE everything about her writing and am impatiently waiting for her next books.

Megan Hart is also at the top of my must see list for this signing. Her books are in a league all their own--sexy, brutally honest, emotional and immensely thought provoking. She is a master of pushing the envelope in the romance and women's fiction genres.

I also look forward to meeting Kristan Higgins who writes really fun, honest and emotional feel good contemporary romances. I love all of her books.

The list goes on to include SO MANY other authors! I won't bore you with my lists. ;) Some authors I have been reading for years, some I have only read one or two of their books and yet others who have been on my 'I want to read this author / this series' radar for anywhere from a few months to a few years. So many authors, so little time! It's going to be crazy, but so much fun!

I am EQUALLY EXCITED--if not more so, to meet fellow romance readers and book bloggers whom I have gotten to know over the years who will also be there. I'm planning to arrive at the Marriott before the signing to hopefully bump into some friends then, and I'll hang out for awhile afterwards as well. Wendy, The Super Librarian--who has been named RWA's 2011 Librarian Of The Year!--has initiated a Blogger Bash at the Atrium Lounge in the Mariott after the literacy signing to encourage romance reader blogger author editor publisher etc. mingling--such a great idea!

Who else is going?
I'd love to meet up with you, so let me know if you'll be there so we can look for each other!

Also, have you ever gone to a past RWA Literacy signing?
If so, do you have any suggestions for how best to navigate the ballroom with my author list?


Friday, June 17, 2011

Another Tri

I got persuaded by my workout buddies to do another triathlon. So in addition to the one I'm signed up to do in September, I'm also now signed up to do one on July 17.

As in ONE MONTH AWAY! *gulp*

The July Tri is also a sprint event and in fact, a shorter course, notably in the swimming event. The swim is only 300 yards, or about 12 lengths laps of an olympic sized pool, the bike portion is 10.6 miles on a flat course, followed by a 3 mile run.

Of course, I'm anxious about it, but also kind of charged about meeting the challenge. I can do this! :)

First things first, though ... what to wear?? ;)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Library Loot XXXIX

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries! This week's Library Loot is at Marg's.

I have an unusually large loot this week. I went to the library on Saturday specifically to pick up my favorite cookbook on preserves that I seem to borrow about four times a year when I want to make jam. I'm canning homemade strawberry jam this afternoon from berries I picked last Friday. And because I went to the library on a Saturday and not in the middle of the week minutes before closing, I actually had time to browse the shelves. Which means more books came home. We also discovered a used book sale going on at the library and grabbed a few with minutes to spare before the sale ended.


A Midsummer Night's Dream edited by Roma Gill
A Midsummer Night's Dream Shakespeare Explained by Joseph Sobran

I am reading Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream this month for the Once Upon a Time V reading challenge. I haven't read Shakespeare since high school, which was a long time ago, so I picked up two different publications to make sure I understood it all. This Shakespeare stuff is not easy! One book contains a summary of the entire play, followed by the original work. The second book is sort of an overview and interpretation of the play, information about various modern film and stage productions,  and also includes biographical information about Shakespeare and his time period in general.

Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of Death and Dementia
by Edgar Allan Poe, illustrated by Gris Grimly

My teen has been studying Poe in her sophomore AP lit class recently and really likes his work. Again, I haven't read Poe since high school myself, so when I happened to see this graphic novel at the library, I knew it was meant to come home with me. I find it rather ironic that my teen is reading the straight text versions of Poe's works as well as a biography and here I am reading the graphic novel. But there ya' go.

In graphic novels:

Harvey by Hervé Bouchard and illustrated by Janice Nadeau
Burnout by Rebecca Donner and illustrated by Inaki Miranda
A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge by Josh Neufeld

In young adult:
My daughter and I spent a chunk of time browsing the young adult shelves at the library together. We clearly have different ideas about borrowing books. I am more along the lines of the"looks good? okay, bring it home!" method.  She's a bit pickier about which books actually make it to the check out counter. She's more along the lines of "carefully inspect every book that might be interesting, scrutinize the inside flap, book blurb, maybe read the first chapter or even --gasp! -- a random few pages IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BOOK, and THEN decide if she wants to borrow it" method. Even then, she still hems and haws with an "I'm not sure, Mom." I always follow up with, "Well, then borrow it. You can read more of it STARTING AT PAGE ONE at home and decide then. We can always return unread it if you don't like it." About 45 minutes later, she has one or two books picked out. Meanwhile, I've been standing around pulling a dozen or so books into a pile and then realizing it's too many to physically carry and I put a few back for next time.

Which method is more your style? 

My choices:

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
This book is the 2011 recipient of the Newberry Medal.

Nothing by Janne Teller
This book has been awarded the Michael J. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. It's short, but sounds thought provoking.

Chime by Franny Bllingsley
I've seen this one around quite a bit and love the cover. I read the book blurb and was sold.

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
I started following Maureen Johnson on twitter a week or two ago following the Wall Street Journal's critical article about young adult fiction when she, author Libba Bray and others responded intelligently and compassionately to the WSJ's claims and the #YASaves hashtag was born. When I saw one of her books on the shelf at my library, I figured it would be nice to read the work of an author I follow on twitter. ;)

Things I Know About Love by Kate Le Vann
This story is about a teenager from the UK who is in remission with leukemia and travels to the US to visit her brother who is a student at Princeton University, where she falls for her brother's friend. Looks like a good story.

Daughter's choices: (not pictured)
Gifted: Finders Keepers by Marilyn Kaye
Gifted: Now You See Me by Marilyn Kaye
These are the fourth and fifth books, respectively of the Gifted series by this author--a series about a group of nine teens who attend an ordinary high school but wield unique psychic gifts or powers. She read the first three books last summer, maybe.

Bought at Friends of Library Used Book Sale:
The first two are my picks, the second two are my daughter's. We bought all four books for $1.

Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts
Love the title.
Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber
I've just realized I've been collecting little hardcover Christmas themed stories like this one every time I go to these used book sales at my library. It wasn't a planned collection up to this point, but I think it will be now!
Secrets of my Hollywood Life by Jen Calonita
Now Starring Vivien Leigh Reid by Yvonne Collins and Sandy Rideout

Now I'm off to make strawberry jam...  :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

What I Read Last Month

May 2011

Finally getting around to posting what I read last month. I'm kind of late, I know. Nath, go ahead and poke fun of me now. I deserve it! ;)

But first! I've been playing Words with Friends on my iPhone a lot lately, thanks to Linda and Lisa who both brought the game to my attention a couple of weeks ago. For those who don't know what that is, it's a Scrabble-like game app on the iPhone (and maybe on other smart phones, too?). Anyway, it is very, very rare occurrence for me to beat my husband at Scrabble. And Words with Friends. And pretty much most games. And sports... Last night, luck was on my side and when I got the following set of letters, I was thinking this had to be my game. [Check out my letters at the bottom of screen shot]

I RUNNER. What are the odds, right?


I WON! I FINALLY WON!!!!!! It only took about a million games. Okay, maybe 20, but it sure felt like a million. ;)

The nicest part is that I think he was just as happy that I won as I was. He's sweet like that. :)

Now about the books I read last month. I read a total of 7 books in May. Here's a break down of the genres:

Crime fiction ............ 2
Graphic novel ........... 1
Young adult............... 1
Romance .................. 3

I usually list my monthly books in the order that I read them, but this time I'm going to follow Hilcia's method of listing the books in order of favoritism.

1. Blaze of Memory by Nalini Singh A-

Another fantastic installment in the Psy-Changeling series, this is book #8. This story featured a Psy-Psy pairing. Dev Santos who is one of the Forgotten Psy who survive with others of his kind on the ShadowNet and Katya who is a pure blood Psy who has been tortured and broken by an elite and powerful member of the Council and programmed to infiltrate The Shine--an organization founded to find and help other Forgotten Psy with their psychic gifts. If you're not reading this series, you should!

2. My One and Only by Kristan Higgins B+

Yet another funny yet emotionally stirring contemporary romance that borders along the genre lines of chick lit from one of my favorite authors. The protagonist was a bit cold and harsh for liking in the beginning, but she sure grew on me as I learned more about her past and boy was I routing for her happily ever after by the end.

3. It Happened One Season by Stephanie Laurens et. al. B+

A charming historical romance anthology with misfit war heroes and atypical heroines in their final season. You can read my review HERE.

4. Remember When by Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb B+

A Nora Roberts romantic suspense about a diamond heist and a J.D. Robb In Death futuristic crime fiction story relating to the very same heist and families fifty years later. My review can be read HERE.

5. Will Grayson, Will Grayson
by John Green and David Levithan B

Slightly over the top in the believability factor, yet all the teenage emotional drama rang perfectly true in this fun and touching contemporary young adult novel about friendship and sexuality and broken hearts and love.

6. The First Cut by Dianne Emley B

A suspenseful crime fiction thriller lead by the female Pasadena police officer Nan Vining who has just returned to the force after recovering from the physical and emotional wounds of an brutal attack while in the line of duty. The story started out slow for me, but took off towards the end. I felt the characters were not developed to their full potential when I wanted to be emotionally invested in them, particularly with the protagonist, Nan Vining. I still may read the next book in the series as the series arc is promising. My review can be read HERE.

7. The Odyssey by Gareth Hinds A

A spectacular artistic interpretation of Homer's epic poem "The Odyssey" that can be understood and enjoyed by readers of all ages.

I realize it doesn't make any sense that The Odyssey is listed last when it has the highest grade. It's the combination of the beautiful illustrations and the classic epic story that makes this book stand out, but it didn't induce the same level of personal satisfaction as the other books this month.

June reading is off to a bit of a slow start. Not what I had in mind... but isn't it always the case that there's too many books, too little time?

Do you play Words with Friends? 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

X FACTOR Live Auditions* and Library Loot XXXVIII

*sitting in the audience ONLY. ;) 

My husband got a hold of four tickets for the live taping of the X FACTOR Auditions for the New York Metro. So last night I took my sixteen year old daughter and two of her friends to the show. It was a lot of fun, but such a loooooong evening. We left home at 4 pm, picked up the two friends and were parked by 5 pm or so... but then waited in line outside the arena in 95 F (35 C) temps for the doors to open, barely tolerating obnoxious people. I mean really. Why can't adults behave like adults and not cut the line? We've been out of elementary school for at least a decade by now--more like two or three decades. Plenty of time to learn that cutting the line is rude, disrespectful and just plain wrong! I was getting a bit testy, I have to admit. Anyway, the doors finally opened and we got to sit in the air conditioning and wait some more for the auditions to start. Finally, the show got underway near 7 pm.

Out of the 20 or so contestants that auditioned last night, there were maybe four who stood out as potential final contestants, although a handful more than that got call backs. When one particular contestant came out, my daughter says, "I think I know that guy!" Turns out a boy from her high school made it to this level of audition cuts. He apparently kept it pretty quiet at school. His performance was pretty good, but not quite good enough to make it past the judges. My daughter and her friends were so proud of him. Not just for making it that far, but he had some positive and inspiring things to say in his little "interview" with the judges about working hard, not giving up and discovering your strengths. That was nice.

The judges last night were Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger (She's got that new sexy single out, "Right There" featuring 50 Cent. It's blatantly sexually suggestive, so consider yourself warned if you've got little kids within earshot ;) and music producer L.A. Reid. It was a lot of fun listening to the four of them talk amongst themselves, to the contestants and the audience. There's significantly more dialogue exchange that goes on at the tapings that never make it to the final cut that gets played when the show is actually broad casted. The final contestant walked off the stage at 11 pm or so and the girls and I chatted about the night the whole ride home. I think we had a pretty fun night! :)

Now for my library loot! I stopped by a neighboring library specifically to pick up this month's book selection for the Author's by the Alphabet book club and got majorly sucked into browsing the cookbook section. I couldn't believe how many cookbooks this library shelves! I had to fight myself not to grab a dozen more and came home with only five. I can just borrow more when I return these, right?

Three Wishes: A True Story of Good Friends, Crushing Heartbreak, and Astonishing Luck on Our Way to Love and Motherhood
by Carey Goldberg, Beth Jones and Pamela Ferdinand

This is memoir type book that accounts three single friends and career women who journey to motherhood.

Chocolate & Vanilla by Gale Gand
The Ultimate Ice Cream Book by Bruce Weinstein

No explanation necessary for these two books, right? Thought so. ;)

The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen by Teri Edwards and Serena Thompson

I couldn't resist this book's simple country farm kitchen appeal. Simple, classic country recipes and adorable craft ideas. If you like country life and antiques, the Serena Thompson has a sweet blog at Farm Chicks.

I also got Hungry Girl Happy Hour and Great Food Fast , both not pictured.

I'm not crazy about the drink recipes in the Happy Hour book because they call for a lot of very artificial ingredients like powdered jello, juice mix and artificially sweetened and flavored syrups. Not really my thing. Great Food Fast is a compilation of recipes straight from the Every Day Food magazine, which I have been subscribing to for many years and I was just looking for recipes that were published in issues prior to starting my subscription. It's a great cookbook, though. I encourage you to look for it at your library. Love the magazine, too.

That's it!

It's literally 100 degrees F outside today and due to the extreme heat, schools were actually dismissed early today! That's only happened one other time in the eleven years I've had a child in school. While it is expected to cool off a bit by tomorrow, temperatures are expected to be in the mid 90s F for the next several days. I'm thinking making some homemade ice cream from The Ultimate Ice Cream Book is in order. Perhaps homemade strawberry ice cream...

What's your favorite flavor of ice cream? 


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

REVIEW: The First Cut by Dianne Emley

E The First Cut by Dianne Emley is the May book selection for the Authors by the Alphabet online book club for the author last name beginning with the letter 'E.'

The First Cut is the first book in the crime fiction thriller series featuring female police officer and single mother Nan Vining of the Pasadena Police Department. The story begins with Vining returning to the precinct for work after a leave of absence she required to recover physically and mentally from a brutal attack while in the line of duty that nearly took her life months earlier. Within minutes of entering the precinct, Vining is recruited to investigate the heinous murder of Frankie Lynde, a young, beautiful female cop with the LA Police Department whose naked and brutalized body is found dumped in an arroyo in Pasadena. While some of her fellow officers think this crime may hit too close to home for Vining, she views this case as the perfect opportunity to prove to her colleagues--and more importantly to herself, that she's ready and able to get back in the game.

To complicate Vining's return to work, she secretly suffers anxiety attacks whenever she enters unfamiliar houses. Sometimes these anxiety attacks manifest themselves in the form of hearing voices from both Frankie Lynde and T.B. Mann-- the name Vining and her teenage daughter have given to Vining's unknown attacker "The Bad Man" who remains at large.

The First Cut starts out a bit slow introducing the primary and secondary characters, establishing the crime scene and other information, all the while without any strong character developments or progress in the plot itself. Eventually, though, the pace picks up and the book quickly transforms into a very intense police procedural for a disturbing set of crimes that left me turning the pages as fast as I could just to make sure justice was served.

This book's strength is definitely in the thoroughness of the police investigation and the specific procedurals as well as in the grim and disturbing profile of the murderer and his accomplice. Revisiting the events that led up to the murder of LAPD officer Frankie Lynde and witnessing the perpetrator initiate a new crime against a new victim was both disturbing and suspenseful. The weakness of the book, however, is that I felt Officer Nan Vining's character was short changed in the development area. Yes, we learn about her attack by T.B. Mann and how it still affects her, we learn about her relationship with her daughter and bit about a male colleague with whom she used to be involved and we also learn what a competent and intuitive cop she is--all of which invites the reader to empathize with and route for Vining's success. Which happens for the most part, yet I feel like we could have and should have gotten more intimately involved with Vining's character to really know and connect with her. Since this is the first book in a series, I imagine Vining's character develops more in the subsequent stories making her character and her stories even more compelling.

I gave The First Cut three stars on goodreads for "I like it." The series shows great promise and I intend to read the rest of the books in the Nan Vining series.


For links to other reviews and the Q&A among the book club members, visit Paula's blog HERE.

If you're interested in joining the Authors by the Alphabet Book Club, visit Paula's blog at the SIGN UP post. All are welcome and participation is flexible. Come join the fun! :)

Friday, June 3, 2011

100 Days to Race Day

I'll be racing in my first triathlon in 100 days.
I've got a few things on my mind . . .

swim bike run swim bike run swim bike run swim bike run
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swim bike run and  RACE!   : )

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Library Loot XXXVII ... and a BEA story

I feel like I had some weak blogging mojo for most of May and now all of a sudden I have so much to share and not enough time to get it all up here. For starters, I have some library loot to share and a little anecdote about my {non} BEA adventure last week.

If you're a book blogger, you're probably aware that the Book Expo of America was held in NYC last week where thousands of authors, publishers, librarians, bloggers and others congregated at the Jacob Javits Center to promote and share books. I didn't go to the expo, but I did take the train in one evening to meet my friend and fellow blogger Michelle from Red-Headed Book Child dinner. Michelle and I met through our blogs and then in person over a glass of wine last year when she attended BEA, having trekked to NYC all the way from Minnesota! This time we made sure we took the time to linger happily over martinis and dinner. It was SO nice. And the Lychee Martini I had was mm-mm delicious. On my way to meet Michelle, I literally bumped into my friends Ana and Thea, co founders of the awesome The Book Smugglers blog, while passing each other on the a sidewalk somewhere between Penn Station and the Jacob Javits Center. Isn't that crazy? Talk about being in the right place at the right time... we probably couldn't have arranged to meet like that if we had wanted to! THEN, after I met up with Michelle and we walked in the opposite direction, we bump into my friend Nancy who blogs at the Ravenous Reader. This is all within 30 minutes of stepping out of Penn Station. Just goes to show that it is indeed a small world after all. Even in New York City. ;)

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries! This week's Library Loot is at Marg's.

Now for my library loot. I did an unexpected drive by loot at my library yesterday. TWO books for which I had a hold request became available and so I squeezed in the shortest library visit ever into my evening last night when I had to pick my daughter up from an activity next door to the library. I literally walked in to the library with my card in my hand, asked for the two books at the desk, checked them out and left! I would be very surprised if I was in the building longer than three minutes. It was difficult to turn my back on all those books just waiting to be considered, but I had no time to do so. I am not liking these abbreviated library hours, I can tell you that!

The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon

I first heard of this new book on goodreads several weeks ago and knew I wanted to read it. I read the first chapter (20 pages) last night as soon as I got home and already my heart was being squeezed and wouldn't you know... a few tears were shed. I'm going to keep a tissue box handy when I read this one.

From the inside flap:

" It is 1968. Lynnie, a young white woman with a developmental disability, and Homan, an African American deaf man, are locked away in an institution, the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, and have been left to languish, forgotten. Deeply in love, they escape, and find refuge in the farmhouse of Martha, a retired schoolteacher and widow. But the couple is not alone-Lynnie has just given birth to a baby girl. When the authorities catch up to them that same night, Homan escapes into the darkness, and Lynnie is caught. But before she is forced back into the institution, she whispers two words to Martha: "Hide her." And so begins the 40-year epic journey of Lynnie, Homan, Martha, and baby Julia-lives divided by seemingly insurmountable obstacles, yet drawn together by a secret pact and extraordinary love. "

I cannot pass this one by.

Zombies vs. Unicorns by Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black

These two authors argue the which is better, the zombie or the unicorn and invited some of today's finest young adult writers to chose a side and write a story to support their claim. This young adult fantasy anthology contains stories by Garth Nix, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Naomi Novik, Carrie Ryan, Margo Lanagan, Maureen Johnson, Diana Peterfreund, Scott Westerfeld, Meg Cabot, Cassandra Clare, Kathleen Duey and Libba Bray.

I'm going to read these stories and decide the winner myself. Team Zombie or Team Unicorn? I'm saying unicorns. Zombies are too disgusting to be compelling. Blech.

What team do you choose? Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer Romance Reading Challenge 2011

Book Chick City is a book blog run by a Brit chick who reads and reviews speculative fiction, mystery and romance. Her reading preference is for horror and urban fantasy but has challenged herself to read eight romance novels over the summer between June 1 and September 30, and I've decided to join her! I have been reading a wider variety of fiction in recent months, but will always have a soft spot for books that include romantic elements with a happily ever after for the lead couple. What can I say, I'm a romantic at heart and live for happy endings.

For more details about BCC's Summer Romance challenge and to sign up yourself, visit Book Chick City HERE.

Even if you're not interested in signing up for this challenge, you should visit BCC anyway. She's got a rockin' blog.

My Summer Romance books:

1. Bonds of Justice by Nalini Singh
2. Play of Passion by Nalini Singh
3. Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh
4. Burning Up by Nalini Singh, Meljean Brook et. al.
5. Shades of Midnight by Lara Adrian
6. Taken by Midnight by Lara Adrian
7. A Lady's Lesson in Scandal by Meredith Duran
8. Deeper Than Midnight by Lara Adrian


9. The Bride by Julie Garwood
10. The Wedding by Julie Garwood
11. Silk is For Seduction by Loretta Chase
12. One Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare
13. Everything Changes by Megan Hart
14. Naked by Megan Hart
15. Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison
16. Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis
17. Into the Flame by Christina Dodd
18. Angels' Blood by Nalini Singh
19. Night After Night by Kathryn Smith