Sunday, August 29, 2010

Review - Duke's Night of Sin

Last week I was lucky enough to win an advance e-galley of The Duke's Night of Sin by Katherine Caskie.  Thanks to Bev at The Season, I was able to have an early read of the third in Ms. Caskie's "Sin" series.

The series focuses on the Sinclair siblings who have been banished from Scotland by their father for epitomizing each of the seven deadly sins - each as adopted one as their own.  Suisan's story is told in the third installment, following her path to redemption and (hopefully) path to love and return to her father's good graces.  While a bit overly-dramatic/self-sacrificing at times, Suisan is a likeable heroine as she eventually learns to become a person she can be proud of.  While there isn't as much backstory on our hero, the new Duke of Exeter,as I might of liked, he comes off as a hero deserving of our heroine.  A brief mention is made of historical events that I would have liked to have read more about, and I would also have liked a bit more on the family relationships of the Duke (what's done is passing left me somewhat wanting).  The bulk of the story between the hero and heroine takes place outside of London.  Suisan's remaining siblings play only a minimal role in the story, but we do learn that Grant's story will be next, in 2011.

A light, quick, entertaining read, it was perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

This Week in Books (August 26)

Books completed the week ending August 26 
  • Wicked Intentions - Elizabeth Hoyt
  • Don't Tempt Me - Loretta Chase
  • Last Night's Scandal - Loretta Chase
  • All Night With a Rogue - Alexandra Hawkins
  • Till Dawn With the Devil - Alexandra Hawkins
  • A Bone to Pick - Charlaine Harris
  • Three Bedroom, One Corpse - Charlaine Harris
  • Julius House - Charlaine Harris
  • One Dance With A Duke - Tessa Dare
  • Twice Tempted By A Rogue - Tessa Dare
  • Three Nights With A Scoundral - Tessa Dare
  • Siren Song - Trish Albright
  • Firestorm (Anna Pigeon #4) - Nevada Barr (audio)

This Week In Books (August 19)

Books completed the week ending August 19
  • A Superior Death - Nevada Barr
  • Bullet - Laurell K. Hamilton 
  • The Secret Duke - Jo Beverley
  • A Bone to Pick (Aurora Teagarden #2) - Charlaine Harris

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Going to the Chapel...

Three years ago today, in a little chapel in on the lake, I said "I Do" to my wonderful husband.  It's hard to believe it's been three years already..yet sometimes it seems like we've been together a lot longer than that too (I mean that totally in the best way possible)!  I still feel like the luckiest girl in the world, so here's wishing a Happy 3rd Anniversary to my dear husband and I look forward to celebrating many, many more!

Friday, August 13, 2010

This week in books (August 6)

Books completed the week ending August 12

March of the Elephants

I'm so in love with the fabric that arrived in my mail this week!

Isn't is adorable?!  I only wish I could have gotten it in some of the other fabulous colors.  I saw the fabric on the most excellent Hawthorne Threads blog, which is a fabulous blog for everyone interested in fabric and sewing and the related subjects. I immediately went to order, and most of the colors were already sold out.  I was able to get a yard in each of these though (this is the medium weight cotton, it also comes in a canvas).  They arrived within just a couple days -- super fast turn around time from Hawthorne -- and the fabric is just as cute as I hoped it would be.  I know my friend over at Stitch to Stitch ordered some as well, so it's a hot commodity!

Now I just need to figure out what to make that will live up to the awesomeness of this fabric...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Adventures in Cooking - Quinoa Salad and Salmon Patties

Tonight was an adventure in cooking, the first I've done in a while.  I have issues with gluten, and for a while now I've been wanting to try a Quinoa salad, a gluten-free grain.  Quinoa is a small grain, similar in some ways to cous cous, but it's gluten-free,   Except for not giving myself quite enough time, it turned out really well, and was really simple.

The Quinoa salad was essentially just Quinoa, prepared as directed, and vegetables.  While it was cooking, I sauteed up some broccoli and chopped carrots with a bit of Mrs. Dash lemon pepper seasoning.  Once done, I let all these cool for a bit and dumped them in a bowl and put in the refridgerator.  While cooling, I boiled up an ear of sweet corn, which I cut off the cob and added to the salad.  After about 15 minutes, I added some tomato-basil feta cheese to the salad, a dash of olive oil and some Kraft Olive Oil & Parmesan salad dressing (to taste).  Served over a leaf of Romaine lettuce, it turned out to be really good, and nice and cool on a hot summer night.

With the salad tonight we added a Chipotle Salmon Pattie that I'd picked up at Hy-Vee.  They were ok, and a good complement to a healthy meal, but I think for the leftover salad I'm going to saute up some shrimp and add them to the salad for a one dish meal.  This was definitely one adventure in cooking I plan to repeat.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Rain, Rain, Go Away...

For a landlocked state, Iowa has an amazing amount of water.  Bordered by the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, aside from these two mighty rivers, the rest of the state has numerous rivers and creeks.  With the torrential downpours we have received over the past few days, these normally calm and peaceful rivers and creeks have become raging walls of water.

Central Iowa has seen a lot of rain this summer, and there has been some flooding at various points throughout the season.  Storms the past few days though have brought inches upon inches of rain, each night, to the point that a flash flood last night washed three cars of the road, tragically sweeping one woman away.  The pictures of the flooding around parts of Des Moines, and especially north of here in the Ames area, are unbelievable.  Aerial photos give a unique perspective of the extent of the flooding in and around Iowa State University, and other photos are available here, here and here

Driving around today, it was hard to believe that tiny little creeks could become raging rivers.  We live on a golf course, and I can't begin to say how happy I am to live on the side of the course we do.  Our neighbors on the other side of our area now have what seems like a lake in their backyards.  Four Mile Creek, normally just a couple feet deep and a few feet wide, has taken over.  A few photos I've taken today are included in my Picasa album. (This is my first attempt at using Picasa, please bear with me!)

2010 August Flooding - Des Moines area

I am so appreciative of the fact that, at least for now, we are safe and dry.  Too many people today are not as lucky, and my heart goes out to everyone who is dealing with everything from wet basements to complete loss.  We get a brief reprieve tonight from the storms, which hopefully will help, but the forecast says to expect more again Thursday night.  Right now, more rain is the last thing that we need here.

Mad About the Duke - October release

Mad About the Duke, by Elizabeth Boyle, was the second of the eGalley books I dove into.  I've read all the others in this series and find them very fun and always entertaining, with a fabulous cast of characters.  I like the way Ms. Boyle flows well, and the story progresses smoothly, always with plenty of moments to make you laugh (or at least snicker).

This is the 7th of the Bachelor Chronicles, and I'm so glad that there are more to come!  Mad About the Duke focuses on the second of the Standon widows, Elinor, and the Duke of Parkerton, brother to Mad Jack, hero of a previous book.  There are lots of familliar characters, a few new ones, and just an overall feel good feeling to the story.  There isn't a lot of drama to the book other than that created by our hero and heroine (we meet the hero as Elinor mistakes him for a solicitor and retains him to help her find a husband, preferably a Duke!), but we do get a deeper looks into some of the family relationships that have been introduced throughout the series.  An enjoyable addition to the series, I look forward to reading the story of the third Lady Standon, Minerva, soon!

The book picks up where the previous book, How I Met My Countess, leaves off (overalpping just a bit) and while not necessary to read the entire series to understand, it would probably be helpful to
have at least read HIMMC to understand the dynamics at work and the backstory of the Standon widows.  If you get a chance though, I do recommend the series as a whole.

Mad About the Duke will be released on September 28, 2010.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Dangerous Viscount

I was fortunate this week to win three eGalley pre-release books from The Season.  The information to download the books was emailed to me yesterday, and I already finished the first, The Dangerous Viscount by Miranda Neville!  The second in Ms. Neville's Burgundy Club series, it was an enjoyable, and quick, read.  I have yet to read the first in the series, The Wild Marquis, although it doesn't prevent one from understanding the gist of the series. (I have The Wild Marquis waiting for me at the library and I look forward to the introduction to the Burgundy Club.)

Having read one of Ms. Neville's previous books, this one was very entertaining, especially for the first 3/4 of the book.  However, the end of the book seemed to rush the end of the story and provided no real explanation to wrap up the romance between the hero and heroine.  Throughout the first 3/4 of the book there was tension between the hero and heroine, and we watched them attempt to build a relationship based on more than the physical.  Yet all of a sudden, after the heroine runs away from the hero, we see it all come together in what feels like about 5 pages.  A bit unsatisfying to have it all wrapped up so neatly after the well-written tension and family drama/history, yet it doesn't prevent the reader from enjoying the story.

Diana, our heroine, has a sister Minerva who is definitely set up for her own story at some point in the near future.  While I have my suspicions as to where her story may go, I look forward to reading it.  I'd also love to hear more about the rest of Diana's unconventional family! I see many more books coming out of the various brothers and sisters.  In the meantime, The Dangerous Viscount is released September 28 and is a pleasurable read that I recommend (besides, how can you not love a series of books where the heroes are brought together by their love of books!). 

I LOVE free books and I love opportunities to win them!  With that in mind, let me put in a quick plug for The Season.  It's a great website and blog for fans of romance, with lots of great information on upcoming releases, review, author interviews and tons of book giveaways.  Next time you're looking for a book to read, check it out!  

Now it's time to start on the second of my eGalleys...Elizabeth Boyle's Mad About the Duke!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Story of Abe Lincoln...With a Twist

A few months ago I stumbled across a great book blog called Book Soulmates.  Written my two book-lovers, it has reviews and all other sorts of fun book-related posts.  They also have a TON of giveaways, which is awesome :)  I was fortunate enough to be a winner of one of those giveaways, of the audio version of Seth Grahame-Smith's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Worship the Sun

I am a sun goddess. Well, I like to think that I was in a former life. As it is, I am far from a goddess, but I do love the sun. I love the warmth on my skin, I love not looking like a ghost. I love nothing more than to sit down with a good book outside (especially when I have the option to go sit in the shade at some point!). However, the sun does NOT love me. The sun sensitivity that many with autoimmune issues have hits me hard. I burn in about 2.2 seconds (sometimes, I think I get red just THINKING about the sun). I get sun rashes and all that related fun stuff, and in general, too much sun makes me feel cruddy. But I love boating and sunshine and so I’ve found ways to manage the sun. I wear a lot of big floppy hats, I should buy stock in SPF 100 spray, and I found shirts like this rashguard from Athleta. If you are sun sensitive, this is an awesome piece of clothing. It is unbelievably lightweight, and despite having long sleeves it does not make you hot, even on 90+ degree days. Air moves right through it, but it has sun protection built into the fabric. And, right now, it’s on sale! Well worth the investment for anyone with sun concerns who loves to be outdoors.
P.S. This is the one I love, but they have several other types on sale too!