Wednesday, August 31, 2011

In Death Series Reading Challenge August 2011

Oops! I promised vacation pictures, but would you look at that? It's the last day of August already which means I have to give this month's In Death Challenge post priority. It'll drive me nuts if the August post went up in September.

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!

I never got around to posting my mini review for this one in last month's challenge post, so I'm doing it here. This book is probably among one of my favorites in the series at this point.

Divided In Death by J.D. Robb
Divided In Death brought some new and unusual stresses to Eve and Roarke's lives. First, the murder investigation becomes a personal one because the prime suspect for a double murder is Reva Ewing--one of Roarke's top security employees who also happens to be the beloved daughter of Caro who is Roarke's executive secretary. Then the stress level is kicked up even more so when Roarke inadvertently uncovers some startling information about Eve's tragic and abusive childhood situation. The revelation is horrendous, and of course Roarke wants justice--or is it revenge?-- for the travesty, yet Eve decides to "let it go." This becomes a source of heat between them, and I don't mean the good kind. It adds fuel to this already stressful time for them, but you know it only brings them closer in the end. The intensity of the friction between Eve and Roarke and the complexity of the murder investigation that hits so close to home makes Divided In Death a winner for me.

Visions In Death by J.D. Robb
In this story, Eve and her team are investigating a serial murderer who is killing women of a specific profile, removing her eyes and displaying her naked with nothing but a red ribbon around her neck. A woman with a psychic gift comes to Eve with information because she has had very graphic visions of the murders and hopes to help. Of course, this is a difficult avenue for Eve's logical and scientific mind, but she handles it well. Someone on her team takes a really bad hit at one point in the novel, and while I felt confident that the author would not let this character die, I have to admit it was quite stressful to read. It was comforting to see the friends come together to support each other and reach out to the injured during this difficult time. There was also an unexpected twist of sorts in the murder plot that I enjoyed. It's good when a crime fiction author can surprise or stump her readers after twenty something books.

I think I enjoy the progress of the friendship between Eve and Peabody most out of all the relationships in this series. Professionally, Peabody is learning from having Eve--the city's best cop, as her mentor. Personally, Eve is discovering the joys and complications of having friends in her life. While Peabody isn't the only one in Eve's ever expanding circle of loved ones, the fact that they work and socialize together really strengthens their relationship. Plus they have some of the most entertaining conversations!

Which relationships do you enjoy most in this series? 


Did anyone read four In Death books between May and August 2011? Let me know.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

An Earthquake and A Hurricane

Hello everyone! So sorry for the delay in getting my vacation photos up! Things have been a little crazy around here in the last week. Some due to the regular family busy things and some due to some intense Mother Nature things! Yikes! Don't worry--we are all safe and unharmed. :)

First we felt the 5.8 Virginia earthquake here in New Jersey last Wednesday, August 23, 2011. I realize people who live along fault lines on the west coast are used to this sort of thing, but for us, it's a rare occurrence. I have felt a couple of earthquake tremors in New Jersey in the past, but none ever as long or as strong as this one. The first thing I noticed around 1:52 pm EST was a rumbling sound and immediately I thought a large branch was rolling down my roof, but I never heard anything fall onto my roof and it kept rolling and rolling and my roof is not that big! Definitely not a branch rolling down my roof! Then I heard the house creaking like it does when a really strong wind or hurricane (that would be a few days later...) blows through only more so. But that didn't seem quite right, either, because there wasn't even the slightest breeze outside. I looked out the window to confirm this and noticed the power lines were swaying, and then my house was swaying, and the flowers outside my window were swaying, too! I knew then it was an earthquake and then seconds later, it was over. I estimate that the whole thing lasted all of 45 seconds or so, but that's a long time when you're not sure if it is the beginning of something big right in your own neighborhood or the ripple of something happening far away. It's amazing how far reaching the tremors were for this one! There's an interesting map at the U.S. Geological Survey website that documents where earthquakes are felt by the public. You can see the results from last Wednesday's Virginia earthquake HERE. Click on the map on the right that is labeled "Zoomout Map" to see where this quake was felt.

Then on Thursday, my youngest daughter and I went to visit friends of ours who were renting a house at the New Jersey shore for the week. I have become good friends with the mother of my youngest's best friend over the last two years or so, and she is training for the Danskin Triathlon, too. We thought the girls would have a fun day together at the beach and she and I could practice our open water swim and maybe even bike and run, too. Except the weather was really lousy and there was a swimming ban in the ocean due to the impending hurricane.
From left to right, my youngest and her friend. 
It started to rain, so we didn't want to bike for safety reasons and while we could have gone for a run in the rain, instead we stayed indoors and played monopoly with the kids. In the evening we went out for dinner to a busy little Italian restaurant [Lenny's Pizza and Italian Grill in Lavallette, New Jersey] for some a wonderful meal. Everyone loved what they ordered. I had a personal chicken and pesto pizza with salad right on top of the pizza! It was so good!

We're very fortunate to have made it through the recent storm without too much stress or loss and while I know so many others have had and are still having a very difficult time recovering from the hurricane, here is my story of hurricane Irene and how it affected my family:

Saturday was spent preparing for the arrival of hurricane Irene that was predicted to come directly through our area. We charged cell phones, laptops, flashlight batteries; stored extra ice in the basement freezer; put the basketball hoop, patio furniture, garbage cans, flower planters into the garage; filled our cars with gas; got some extra cash (ATMs and credit cards won't work in a power outage); bought extra gallons of drinking water and then hoped for the best. On Saturday afternoon, our town issued a mandatory evacuation for hundreds of families whose homes lie along a small river that flows through our town by 8 pm that evening. Fortunately, we were not in the evacuation zone. A bit after nightfall, rain and wind started getting stronger and steadier.

Hurricane Irene arrived in full force here in the very early hours of Sunday morning, August 28, 2011, between midnight and 2 am. A window in our master bedroom was leaking the whole night, which I know is minimal compared to what was happening in other homes around the area, but I can't help but be especially aggravated because this window is in our 2 year old addition! I'm hoping it is just a matter of missing caulk on the top edge of this window where it meets the siding on the outside. That can be easily fixed. We lined the window sill and floor with rolled up towels for the interim. I had a very fitful night's sleep--waking up every hour because of the sounds of water dripping at the window and pouring through the gutters and the wind howling through the trees and from simply worrying so much.

At this time, our town is still under a state of emergency. Our family is among the very few, very lucky households who had power restored in so quickly. Most homes and businesses in our area are still without power and the electric company is saying it could be several more days before it is fully restored. A few friends are dropping by to take a hot shower, check their email, charge their cell phones and do some laundry. Oh, and of course a few of our daughters' friends will be coming over tonight to watch the season finale of "Pretty Little Liars." Small comforts, right? :)

Here is a picture of the gazebo in the park down the street from me at which I often run. The footpath runs right alongside the gazebo and is under about seven feet of water here:

Photo taken by my husband on
Sunday, August 28, 2011, approximately 3 pm EST.
Many homes were flooded so severely that their basements were completely submerged and there was even a few inches of water in the first floor of their homes! Even the police had to evacuate the police building due to flooding and are working out of a temporary site. Entire trees are lying across roads, on houses, or resting on power lines. The fire department is assisting families with pumping out their basements and they are asking for the main roads to stay clear for emergency personnel only. In the neighborhoods along the river [it's a small river that is stressed every time their is severe rainfall], people are using generators to pump out their homes while they wait for the fire department to assist with their heavy duty equipment. Belongings are laid out on lawns to dry out or in piles at the curb for garbage pick up. It's a sad situation, yet what a relief that no lives were lost in our surrounding area.

I hope this post finds you and your loved ones safe and sound from whatever came your way this past week!

Coming up next will be fun and happy vacation photos from Europe!  I promise! :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

What I Did Over Summer Vacation

Hello! Bonjour! Hallo! Guten Tag!

I recently arrived back home after having been away on a most amazing two week vacation with my family in Europe!!! What a fantastic trip! We flew to Paris and then traveled by train to Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, Salzburg and Geneva, admiring the beautiful countrysides by train between each city, flying home again from Geneva. During our stay in each city we either walked or took mass transportation for everything except for three taxi rides in Berlin. In each city, we visited museums, marketplaces and popular landmarks and even went on a "Sound of Music" Tour in Salzburg, Austria. We love Rogers and Hammerstein musicals and the film version of The Sound of Music featuring Julie Andrews is our family's all time favorite, so this tour was especially fun for us.

I'm still organizing and editing my photos, but will post some of my favorite shots in each city over the next several days with a little more detail about our adventure.

For my fellow bibliophiles, for the first time ever on a vacation-- I actually read books! That's never happened before. The only reason I managed it on this trip was due to two long transatlantic flights and a few long train rides. I read not one, not two... but nearly three books! I say nearly three because I came very close to finishing the third one on the plane ride home, but ended up finishing the morning after we got home.

I first read Loretta Chase's new release, Silk is for Seduction--mostly while in Paris, which was exceptionally apropos since the heroine is part French and some of the book actually takes place in Paris, too! It was a wonderful story with fantastic characters, by the way. I highly recommend it if you like historical romance. I then read Visions In Death by J.D. Robb, which I enjoyed very much as well. Finally, I picked up my ARC of Tessa Dare's upcoming release, A Night to Surrender, the first book in Dare's new Spindle's Cove series, which was a very fun and sweet story. It didn't have the same poetic and epic romance feeling to it as did her prior two series, but it was still well written and enjoyable. In fact, I'm very much looking forward to the next book in the series, hoping the couple in that book is the nephew of the male protagonist in A Night to Surrender and a specific female secondary character. I don't want to give anything away, but I hope I'm right about those two.

Since we've been back, I've spent the last couple of days catching up with laundry, restocking the fridge, tending the yard [I swear the lawn and weeds both grow faster when you're not home], cleaning and tidying the house [I suspect the cats threw a couple of wild parties while we were away...], organizing and editing my hundreds of vacation photos and jumping right back into working out [The Tri is less than three weeks away--yikes!].  Now it's time to catch up with all of YOU! 

I'm going to try to catch up with all of your blogs over the next several days, but in the meantime, what's your news? I'd love to know what's been going on with you!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Christmas in July IV Giveaway WINNER

I used the free list randomizer at to determine the winner for the Christmas in July giveaway and the lucky winner is .... 

little_alys !!!! 

Congratulations!!! *confetti* 

little_alys has already expressed enthusiastic interest in the Cozy Prize which includes two used books from my gift shelf--one her choice and one mine, a jar of my homemade strawberry jam, a beaded book thong in her choice color scheme and some random book and author swag. 

little_alys, please email me with your book choice and the color scheme you would like for your book thong. I have a wide variety of colored beads, so name your colors and I'll make it happen!

Thanks to everyone who entered. :) 

List Randomizer

There were 7 items in your list. Here they are in random order:
  1. little_alys
  2. Natalie
  3. paperbackdaydreamer
  4. orannia
  5. Jess
  6. BookBelle
  7. Alex
Timestamp: 2011-08-04 04:05:51 UTC