Sunday, March 31, 2013

In Death Series Reading Challenge: March 2013

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!

First I have to ask.. did anyone notice that I didn't post an In Death post in February? It was the first month since starting this challenge in January 2010 that I didn't post a monthly discussion post. I remembered late in February.. but since I still hadn't read a book, so I kind of didn't feel like posting. I'm back this month, however, because guess what?!? Yep! I finally read an In Death book this month. Phew! So glad I got over that hiatus. I hope to stay on track from here on out. I really want to finish this challenge once and for all in 2013.

Did you read any In Death series books this month?

CHALLENGE PARTICIPANTS: 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 link it up with Mr.Linky below so we can find each other's latest In Death posts easily. You can also just use the link to your goodreads or other virtual bookshelf as well.


Promises In Death by J.D. Robb
Book #28

Promises was a really great installment to this series. I liked the crime story and police procedural in this one .. the crime of which hits close to home for Eve's team. The victim is a fellow cop who also happens to be the lover of chief medical examiner, Li Morris. It turns out the victim has a roundabout connection to Eve & Roarke's past so that makes things pretty interesting as the story unveils. I liked the little twists and turns that popped up in the investigation but even more so, I adored the personal story going on in this one, namely the bridal shower the women are hosting for their friend Louise. Hilariously fun and endearing. Of course, it was also lovely seeing Eve comfort Morris in his time of grief. In fact, I got choked up and shed a tear or two not once, not twice but thrice! Okay so to those of you know me may think doesn't mean much because I'm often brought to tears reading a book, but three times is still a lot even for me.      GRADE: B+

Eve and Roarke have both made a lot of progress expanding their circle of friends in the two years they've been married and things are coming a little more naturally to them regarding these relationships. I think Eve in particular, has finally come to consider some of her closest friends the closest thing to family she's ever had. I loved this realization for Eve. It reminds me of the sentiment about the best families being the ones you pick yourself. For those with broken families, I believe this is the absolute truth. Can you relate to this new sense of family that Eve and Roarke are experiencing? In other words, do you have a friend or friends who are like family to you?

Don't forget to link up any of your In Death posts below!

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter to all my peeps! I hope you're enjoying the day whether you celebrate Easter, Passover or nothing at all this time of year. Easter Sunday has always been a reminder to me of the hope and joy that spring brings as everything in nature begins to come to life again around now. Although you wouldn't guess it this particular chilly, gray day here in the NY metro area.

My apologies to those of you who already follow me on instagram. All of the photos in this post come from there except for one.

We've seen snowdrops and crocuses blooming over the last several weeks and while the daffodils have been sending up green leaves, I haven't seen any blooming yet in my neighborhood. I did spot the rhubarb crowns in my garden pushing up, so there is that! I'm hoping to have enough for a strawberry-rhubarb tart later this spring.  Do you like rhubarb? 

I don't have a lot of memories of Easter celebrations from my childhood, although I do remember dying Easter eggs with my family the day before Easter for an egg hunt in the morning. I have vivid memories, however, of one particular Easter Sunday that we spent at my Oma and Opa's house. I remember an Easter egg hunt in their backyard, where eggs were hidden among the long, long rows of white and yellow daffodils lining their vegetable garden fence. I think it was one of the only outdoor Easter egg hunts of my childhood and for that alone, it stands out in my memory. Well, that and that it was spent at my Oma and Opa's house on Eastern Long Island. It was a special place. :)

As an adult, I have colored Easter eggs the evening before Easter, too, ever since I was living on my own. In the beginning, it was just my husband and me but of course our girls have participated every year since they were born even if just as a spectator on our laps when they were babies. Now at ages 14 and [almost] 18, they still color Easter eggs and hunt for them in the morning. This year, the girls hid the eggs for my husband and me to find. What a fun change of events!

I have to say, our egg decorating gets more and more creative every year. Here is a photo of a creative egg that my oldest made last night:
A Mike Wazowski Easter egg
It's Mike Wazowski from Monsters, Inc.! Ha!

She also made this one that she calls her "galaxy egg." I love it!
"Galaxy Egg" by Maria Alba
photo credits: Maria Alba
I filled the girls' baskets with jelly beans, robin eggs [malted milk balls], marshmallow peeps, a peanut butter egg, a few Dove coconut creme filled chocolate eggs, a chocolate bunny and a Starbucks and iTunes gift cards. Lucky bunnies!
Yummy Easter basket
What's your favorite Easter basket treat?

What are some of your Easter food traditions? 

Not exactly a #WeekendCooking post, but I'm linking it up there anyway because it is somewhat food related and I'm anxious to break my very long Weekend Cooking hiatus! It's been way too long since I've participated..

Wishing you all a wonderful day! xo
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Weekend Cooking, a weekly blog event hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food related post to share--a food related book review (fiction or nonfiction), cookbook review, movie review, a recipe, random thoughts, gadgets, food quotations, photographs, etc. Please visit Beth's blog for more information and join the fun! 

Note: your post does not have to be posted on the weekend, but do visit Beth's blog over the weekend to link up your post. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Once Upon A Time VII

I'm still trying to find time to go through my Iceland pictures and put a nice post together--hoping to do so over the next couple of days. Life's been pretty busy around here lately, but everyone is happy and healthy so I cannot complain! I just need a couple of extra hours in the day, but can't we all!

I have managed to pull together this post on Carl's annual Once Upon A Time reading challenge in which I so enjoy participating. Carl who blogs at Stainless Steel Droppings is hosting the 7th annual Once Upon a Time reading and viewing event that encourages participants to explore fairy tales, folklore, fantasy and mythology in books and on the screen. This year marks my 4th year participating. Here are the details:
artwork by Melissa Nucera
Host: Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings

Link:  Once Upon a Time VII

Time Frame: March 21 - June 21, 2013

Challenge: Various levels [see sign up post at Carl's site.]

Rules: Have fun, have fun, share and don't be freaked by the idea that this is a "reading challenge"--hence I used the word "event" above instead. You can join in by just committing to read ONE book from the themed categories.
artwork by Melissa Nucera
I'm going to do Quest the Third by reading five books from any combination of fairy tale, folklore, fantasy and mythology genres and read Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. Yes, this will be my third time attempting to actually read this play. I happen to know there is a graphic novel version somewhere out there..

Once again, we are graced with the beautifully enchanting artwork of artist Melissa Nucera which were used to make the banners for the Once Upon a Time event. Please visit Melissa Nucera at her shop This Years Girl to view and purchase her artwork.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

artwork by Carl Vess
There will also be a Read-Along of Neil Gaiman's fairy-tale novel, Stardust during the Once Upon a Time event. I bought a well worn copy of Stardust many years ago at a library used book sale and I have never read it. I'm so excited to finally have the push to read it. By the way, you do not need to sign up for the reading challenge in order to participate in the read-along. Come join us! It's a relatively short book.. I'm sure you can squeeze it in your reading schedule. Sign up HERE. Read-Along takes place April 1-17, 2013.

Stardust Read-Along image art copyright Carl Vess

I hope to see you participating in the Once Upon A Time event or Stardust Read-Along or both!

Friday, March 22, 2013

REVIEW: The Leopard Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt

Published 2007

The theme for March's TBR Challenge, hosted by Wendy the Super Librarian, is 'Series Catch-up.' To say I had numerous series to chose from would be a serious understatement. I would wager that most of the books on my TBR pile are part of series. However, since I read The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt for last month's challenge and it is the first book in The Princes Trilogy, I thought it would be productive of me to just keep going and read the second book--The Leopard Prince, this month, which I did. I enjoyed it even more than The Raven Prince! Needless to say, I'm enjoying this trilogy and plan to read the third and final book, The Serpent Prince, shortly. I even gave myself a sneak peek by reading the first chapter last week.

I included images of two different versions of the cover art for The Leopard Prince in this post. Usually I just use the cover art for the version I own, which is the first one shown below--the original art work, but in the case of this book, I wanted to also share the newer version of the book cover because the models on that book cover look exactly how I pictured them--a rare occurrence, that!

The original cover art of
The Leopard Prince
The Leopard Prince features Harry Pye --a close friend of Edward de Raaf, Earl of Swartingtham whom readers met in The Raven Prince [see my review HERE]. In The Leopard Prince, Harry Pye has been hired as the land steward to the wealthy Lady Georgina Maitland who inherited a vast estate in Yorkshire from her late Aunt. It is extremely unusual for a woman to own land and property like Lady Georgina does, and honestly she knows very little about managing an estate. She is conscientious nonetheless and visits the estate to investigate rumors that someone from her land has been poisoning sheep on the nearby lands owned by the vile Lord Granville. No one in Yorkshire likes this man - not even his own servants and barely his own family. Quite simply, the guy's a major asshole.

Lord Granville is Harry Pye's sworn enemy since he was a child. His father was gamekeeper for Lord Granville, who at one point had had both him and his father horsewhipped and sent to the poorhouses of London. It's no coincidence that Harry pursued the position of land steward to the Maitland properties just to be nearby to irritate Granville as much as he could. Ultimately, because of this deep seeded animosity between Pye and Granville, Pye is the most likely suspect for the sheep poisonings. Nearly everyone thinks it's Harry behind the trouble, except for Lady Maitland.

Newer cover art for
The Leopard Prince
Lady Georgina is talkative, confident and has a really fun sense of humor. It takes a few meetings for Harry to realize Georgina is not just a shallow, wealthy woman interested only in jewels, gowns and balls, but is genuinely concerned for the people and land in her estates. He starts to really see the intelligent, confident and beautiful woman she really is and in turn, Georgina discovers the knowledgeable, caring man Harry is--one with the confidence and strength to do what's right by the land and its people. It's no wonder these two fall in love as they spend time together investigating the sheep killings.

I loved this trope of the Lady and her servant falling in love. For me, it was great fun to read a sort of role reversal of the prince falling in love with the poor village girl. It worked really well, too, because while Harry may not be born into nobility, he's by all means of noble character. Except, perhaps, when he has Lady Georgina in his arms. Actually, that's not entirely true. He's still rather noble in that he never takes advantage of her and he makes sure Lady Georgina knows exactly what she's getting into when she starts an affair with him and that she truly wants it. The inner conflicts Harry and Georgina struggle with in order to do best for the other were realistic and I appreciated the pace at which the conflicts arose and were resolved--not to rushed and not drawn out, and kept interesting and exciting right to the very end. In fact, to say the story ended with a bang would be quite accurate.

I adored The Leopard Prince and look forward to reading the final book in the trilogy, The Serpent Prince, which features Lord Simon Iddesleigh, close friend of Edward de Raaf and Harry Pye.

4.5 out of 5 stars on goodreads. If one could give half stars, that is.


Next month's TBR Challenge theme is 'New-to-you Author.' In other words, a book from your TBR by an author whom you have not yet read.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I went to Iceland!

A day and a half ago, I was here .... 

Relaxing at Blue Lagoon
in Iceland
[photo credits go to my husband]
Blue Lagoon .. a geothermal hot spring in Grindavik, Iceland. It was blissful.

My husband and I just returned from a wonderful little getaway in Iceland. I'm going to share more about it very soon and when I do.. I think you're going to want to add Iceland to your bucket list by the time I'm done! 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Library Loot LXIV

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! 

Crystal Cove by Lisa Kleypas 
Friday Harbor series, Book #4

The final book in the Friday Harbor series by Lisa Kleypas. This is a contemporary romance series with magical realism, although this particular installment was heavier on the magic than the others to the point at which I would say it's soft paranormal. I liked it more than I expected after having read some very so-so reviews. If you've been reading the series, grab this one from the library and dig it. It was fun!

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This is the March selection for an online book club to which I belong. I was so glad this book was chosen, because it has been on my to-read list for ages! This was just the push I needed to finally read it. I feel like I'm the last person in the world to read it--I anticipate a bunch of comments along the lines of "What?! You haven't read The Book Thief?" and "You have GOT to read The Book Thief right now!" I'm ready! 

Finally, I have some Used Book Sale loot to share. I managed to get to my library in the last hour of their four day used book sale last weekend and scored the stack of books pictured below for only $8! Quite the steal, if you ask me. I found a few romances, a few classics, a few newer fiction titles and a cookbook. I'm happy. 

Used Book Sale Loot
from my library
What I Did For Love by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Where Angels Go by Debbie Macomber
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
How I Came to Sparkle Again by Kaya McLaren
Above The Thunder by Renée Manfredi 
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
Lost Horizon by James Hilton
Pizza and other savory pies by Brigit Binns  [cookbook] 

See anything you like? 

What are you reading from your library right now? 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

100 Things I Love

Hello friends. How are you?

Considering this is my second post in March and it's already the middle of the month, I think it would be fair to say I've lost my blogging stride. Booooo! Although, it could also be argued that I didn't really have much of a stride before this either. :P  I don't know what my problem is, but I just can't seem to get myself together enough to blog! It's not even that I don't have topics about which I'd like to post, because I do! There's books I want to tell you about, several half written reviews in draft, recipes I could write about, cookbooks I could write about, photos to share and so on. I have a list of blog post ideas! The good news is that I'm sitting here right now typing this post, so hopefully it will actually make it to published status and I can pick up the pace around here. I hope so, because I miss you all. And speaking of all of you... I finally bumped over to 200 followers (google). I know there are even more of you who follow or subscribe to my blog in other ways, too. I just want you all to know that I appreciate each and every one of you who take the time out of your busy life to stop by and read what I have to say. It would be pretty lonely here without you.. so thanks. :)

In my last post, I shared My 100 Day Happiness Project with nine tasks that I'd like to take on between March 1 and June 9 to help boost my personal happiness. So far I have done none of them. You can laugh. I did when I just typed that. But it's okay, because I know I'm going to do them. Next week. Ha ha! I'm kidding. I'm putting things in motion for all of them to happen very soon. I thought my new fitness goal was going to be to bump up my regular runs from 3.2 miles to 5 miles.. which I still might do, I suppose. It's just that I haven't felt much like running lately so that kind of stinks. I'm trying to think of a different fitness goal in the meantime. Or maybe I'll get re-inspired to run with spring right around the corner. We'll see.

Speaking of the Happiness Project business, I saw on Mari's blog that she and her friend Lisa from Lit and Life posted lists of 100 Things they love last week. I love reading lists like that! It's a fun way to kind of get to know someone better, don't you think? I decided to make a list, too--you knew I couldn't resist the list making part, right? I have to say it was a very good exercise in self-reflection. There's an awful lot of food on my list... hmm.. that explains things. *sigh*

Check out my list below. I hope you have fun reading through it and that I inspire you to make your own. If you do, let me know--I'd love to read it. :)

100 Things I Love 

working out 
homegrown tomatoes 
fresh basil 
 ice cream 
kettle popcorn 
really good pizza 

 meeting people and making new friends 
snowy days 
sunny days 

rose gardens 
the scent of boxwood 
memories of my oma 
u-pick farms 
cross stitch stuff 
cuddling my husband, kids, pets. 
 sexy music 
my idevices! 
 coming home 

 hand written letters 
kittens (cats, too) 
cooking my family's favorite foods 
a romantic diner - at home or out 
 living healthfully 
 National Parks 
fresh corn 
 cooking magazines 

cooking things from scratch 
crumb cake 
 Hayao Miyazaki films 
 a good conversation with a friend 
singing along to the radio in the car 
vanilla anything 

 good quality chocolate [Belgian is my favorite] 
 Christmas cookies 
 fairy lights 
backyard patios 
backyard vegetable gardens 
visiting other people's backyard vegetable gardens 
 art projects
 epic movies with elaborate cinematography and costumes 
 happy endings 

 just-baked bread 
love stories 
exploring books on goodreads 
hearing 'i love you' 
climbing into bed at the end of the day 
 new york city 
whimsical, romantic movies like Amélie [french film] 

 taking photos 
 used book sales 
vintage postcards 
my husband playing guitar 
chai tea 
vegetables roasted with garlic and olive oil 
 lemons & limes 
Indian food

a day at the beach 
Thanksgiving dinner 
bird watching 
 making lists 
the scent of hearth fires in the air 
the feel of the sun on my face 

 baby animals 
little roadside farm stands 
the Olympics 
the beauty and majesty of our planet 
peace among people and nations                        

the end. :)

march 13, 2013

Friday, March 1, 2013

My 100 Day Happiness Project

Did you know that being happy and having a positive attitude not only feels good, but improves your overall health? Being happy is a good for your health! But don't just sit there waiting for happiness to find to you.. make it happen. Choose to be happy.

How do you choose happiness? Do things that make you happy and send happiness out into the world. If it's cleaning your house, then so be it. If it's gardening, then do it. Recognize the things that make you happy and do them. Know, too, that helping others does a lot to contribute towards your own happiness.

Stemming from the realization that our happiness comes with a personal commitment to be happy, Mari who blogs at the Partyka project created a 100 Day Happiness Challenge to help her create some extra happiness in her life. I love a good challenge--and making lists-- and since I've actually been feeling a little down lately, I think this project would be good for me. Here's my list of things I'd like to do in the next 100 days, March 1 - June 9, in hopes of creating a little extra happiness for myself. :)

Made with my own image
text added using
Visit the Partyka project 100 Day Happiness Challenge for more info and to sign up! By the way, you don't have to make a fancy list like I did. You can just jot down a few things.. or just one thing. It's totally up to you!

Wish me luck! :)