A friend of mine posted this recipe on Facebook and I was intrigued. I always struggle with finding good recipes for chicken breasts. I know they’re healthy–but I don’t like white meat and I feel like they always come out … Continue reading
It is no secret that I love a good book series (a friend of mine pointed this out while we were lounging in Tampa a few weeks ago visiting another friend). One of my all-time favorites is Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta series. The characters are so well written; I love how they have evolved over the years, along with the story lines. We’ve seen one character, Lucy, Kay’s niece, literally grow up throughout the books–it’s been awesome. Actually, Lucy is pretty awesome, but that’s another story entirely. Back to the topic at hand…
Dust, is the 21st book in the Kay Scarpetta series. One of the kudos I have to give Cornwell with this book was how she eased up on the ‘technical speak’ throughout. It was as if she heard my plea for this very thing! In the past, some of the books in the series have been so rife with acronyms and descriptions of spectrometers and various other instruments that I have either zoned out or skipped over parts all together–there I said it. And while I’m confessing, I’m going to put it out there that I have been in love with Benton Wesley, Kay’s husband, (and yes, a fictional character), forever now. As usual, I digress…
True to form, there is a murder–several actually–and a colorful and intriguing dust is left on the bodies. There’s corruption at the FBI, cue lots of Benton! A job change for Marino. And somewhat new to the fray, there was sarcastic humor, which made the interaction between characters that much more fun.
One drawback, and this has become the case in the last few books, Kay has come across as somewhat whiny and self-absorbed. For the most part, it was confined to the early part of the book and was tempered by the fact that it did help us glean further insight into her relationship with Marino via a never-before-scene from their Virginia days. Additionally, she spent a great deal of time explaining Benton’s actions, thought process, and feelings to us–which at times was interesting, but also somewhat took away from his mystique. (But don’t get me wrong–I’m still in love with him.)
All in all, I liked the book. It seemed short and the reveal of the killer, while intricate, was a bit of an after-thought. There was so much detail to follow on the FBI cover-up that you felt detached from the actual killings that were taking place–and hence, the premise of the book. Personally, I’d like to see the next book be a bit longer with more of the personal character interactions, continued humor, and a primary story arc. Then again, Dust has me thinking that Cornwell is setting the stage for more mysteries in the Scarpetta series–and I can’t wait!
Blog Note: As is the case with all things, they evolve–and my blog is no different. Stay tuned for expanded reviews, a rating system, a new look in 2014, and more!
It feels like forever since I’ve reviewed a Kristen Ashley book. She is by far, one of my most favorite romance writers and authors in general. So when I found out that she would be writing another novel in her Colorado Mountain series, I marked my calendar! Literally…I wrote the release date on my calendar; which was November 5th and I finished Jagged yesterday, November 6th. Without a doubt, it falls into my top 5 Kristen Ashley books. Up there with Motorcycle Man, Sweet Dreams, Mystery Man, and I can’t choose what would round out the 5th and those are by no means in order by love (I can’t do that either). Alas, let’s dive in.
Jagged tells the story of Graham Reece aka Ham aka Reece and Zara Cinders. We met Reece in Ashley’s For You (which could be in my top 5…but so could At Peace…but I digress). Reece has been a bit of a rolling stone for the majority of his adult life. Zara has been a Gnaw Bone, CO staple the entirety of hers. She was married. He was married. Both divorced and having fulfilled each other’s emotional and ‘physical’ needs for years, things begin to ‘shift’.
During the recession–yes, THE RECESSION–Zara loses her house to foreclosure and her small business goes under, all in the midst of her divorce. She finds herself in an unsafe apartment complex, working for minimum wage at the local home store. Reece/Ham rides back into town–yes, he has a Harley–and takes up residence at some posh condos seeing as how he’s the new manager at The Dog. Let the fun begin! Reece and Zara are so down-to-earth and relatable, you almost feel like you know them. Well, if you hang out with super hot biker/bar managers–my personal dream.
Unlike some of Ashley’s other books, there is no kidnapping and nail-biting suspense in this book, but that doesn’t make it any less an intriguing page-turner. (Did I mention I read it in a day???) Your heart-strings play a symphony for all that Zara has had to endure, abuse, loss, etc. And Reece as well, his problems with women, while extreme, are understandable. Ladies–we aren’t perfect and men really do have feelings. There are ups and downs throughout the book and of course, some steamy bedroom (and various other room) scenes. For almost 300 pages, this is a quick read. The characters pull you in, you see some familiar faces that are always entertaining. I think I’m going to have to go back and re-read some of those ‘old’ Kristen Ashley novels…
Kaleidoscope is next in this particular Ashley series and my calendar is already marked for its February 4th ebook debut!
I just started working with a branding coach, Brand id Strategic Partners. I am so excited! Jennifer Ransaw-Smith–the owner and coach du jour of Brand id–is someone I admire and have been wanting to work with for years, so even though she’s asked me some tough questions, given me lots to think about, and even more to do–I am pumped and ready for the challenge. And you all–my readers–shall reap the benefits.
As part of my ‘research’ for this whole thing called blogging (the reason I started working with Jennifer; to figure out where this is going, how to get there, etc.), I went on a field trip, yesterday. Thanks to my Twitter feed I found out that BryanBoy was going to be at Tyson’s Galleria–a mere 1-hour drive from me! And for those that may not know, BryanBoy is the most ultimate fashion blogger!
BryanBoy has been blogging since 2005, almost 10 years. I’m not sure I even realized what a blog was back then. To top off the experience, he was interviewed by Robin Givhan, a Pulitzer Prize winning fashion critic. So while this wasn’t exactly part of my homework from Jennifer, I’m sure she’ll agree it was invaluable.
BryanBoy answered tough questions from Robin, showed different styles he had put together from Mulberry and Burberry for the season, and then took audience questions. Oh, I would be remiss is if I didn’t mention who managed the event– Aba Kwawu of the Aba Agency–and it was awesome! Just the right amount of time and style. From the black chiavari chairs to the reception where asparagus wrapped in shaved beef was served, it was perfect. And it was free.
Tidbits from the Q&A: BryanBoy still considers himself an outsider in the industry. He only blogs about things he loves; however, if he has a bad experience, he will be vocal about it on Twitter. He started his blog as a travel blog and it evolved from there. He’s never had a ‘day-job,’ before blogging he was a freelance web developer. Some of the people in the industry he loves and respects are Rumi Neely (FashionToast) and Scott Schuman (The Sartorialist). And one of the things he said that has really made me think is, his blog was born of him doing something he loved, sharing his opinion and stories about his life, wanting to make people smile, and it evolved organically, ultimately, with companies coming to him.
What an inspiring story and experience–though I will say, I was grossly under-dressed. As my Accountability Partner always says, I may have found ‘my people.’ Stay tuned!
I have been meaning to write about this for a while, but it was difficult when I was in the moment and once it was over, I moved on. However, in honor of breast cancer awareness month, I thought I’d discuss my most recent–as well as past–trials and tribulations with the ta ta’s.
For those that don’t know, I’m over 40. 42 to be exact. So, at the behest of my gyn, every year I get a mammogram. I’d had 1 or 2 prior to turning 40 so this wasn’t anything new.
2 years ago, my mammogram showed something ‘suspicious.’ So, I was sent to get a biopsy. The biopsy’s I have had in the past–because I’ve had a few of those too–consisted of taking a needle, drawing some fluid ‘stuff’ and then I would go on my way. 2 years ago, the biopsy I had was more of a procedure. They took something that did not resemble any needle I had ever seen, though that’s what they called it, and inserted it into the suspicious lump. After extracting some of the ‘stuff,’ they went on to put in a titanium clip and send me on my way. (At this, my one friend freaked out and wanted it removed. I have to say, walking around with a titanium clip in your body isn’t something I had signed up for, but I figured my doctors knew better than I on this one. Not to mention, I already have a mouth full of metal (in my opinion) due to fillings, so what’s a little titanium to join the party? (Yes, I get the new tooth colored fillings now like everyone else. But I digress…))
Fast forward to a few months ago. Once again, my mammogram showed something suspicious and I needed to go back for further tests. Receiving that letter is unnerving enough, but in my mind I said, fine. So off to get an ultrasound I went. Now, here’s where it gets ‘amusing.’ I have the ultrasound done and the technician tells me it’s a fibroid; we (meaning women) get these, it’s no big deal; and the doctor will be in shortly to discuss things with me. Ok, that makes me feel better.
Enter the doctor: “The lump is the size of an olive and has doubled in size in year. It’s growing too fast and I’m going to recommend either surgery or a biopsy.” Ummm…1: This is why the technicians aren’t allowed to discuss results. And 2: Surgery OR a biopsy? Doesn’t the biopsy usually come before surgery; how is this one or the other? She assures me she will send my results to my gyn and we can discuss options.
The gyn call: (I love my gyn, but it did take a full 24 hours for her to call me back. And while she deals with this sort of thing regularly, the diagnosis of surgery, biopsy, and discussing options is not something I hear every day.) My gyn tells me that when something grows at this rate the doctors become concerned that they missed something. Well, now isn’t that something everyone wants to hear? “Concerned they missed something.” And why is it with every medical professional I talk to my situation becomes more and more grave? Didn’t we start out with the tech saying it was nothing? So, my gyn says she doesn’t want it to grow and start to become bothersome to me and her initial thought is to have it removed, but she wants me to see a breast surgeon–who specializes in nothing but breasts. Oookkk… (Mind you, at this point, my cousin is preparing to take off work to come take care of me post surgery and I’m essentially making out my mental will since my family and cancer in general, do not have a good track record.)
The breast surgeon: Dr. Schnaper at GBMC is AWESOME! She is the head of the breast center at GBMC and just a generally awesome doctor. Yes, it was very unnerving entering the breast center wing of the hospital but once she entered the room–all anxiety seemed to dissipate. As it turns out, my lump was benign and does not need to be removed. But the entire experience was daunting and eye-opening. At 42, I am still young and there are so many things I want to do, places I want to see.
I sometimes have to remind myself that this happened to me. Once I found out I was ok, I just moved on with life. But while in the midst of it, I was really taking stock of things. (So off to Texas I went for my niece’s sweet 16 party; I shopped more than usual in Hawaii, and I’ll be in Tampa in a few weeks with 2 of my closest childhood friends.) I want to remember, not the anxiousness and fear, but the fact that no one is promised tomorrow, life really is short, and you have to take care of yourself. But above all, while you’re here on earth and have the chance–LIVE!
So, it’s our final night in Honolulu–and what a trip it has been! Tonight, we went to Oceanarium and it was delicious. We had no idea what we were getting into other than it was in the hotel with the big aquarium. Turns out, it was an awesome buffet. On the way back to our home away from home–the Ilikai–we stumbled upon a Stevie Wonder concert! He was performing a private concert at an outdoor venue so we were able to hear–and partially see–the concert from the sidewalk–awesome! Very superstitious… First the season premier of Hawaii 5-0 on the beach and then Stevie Wonder, what luck!
But now, we must embark upon the loooong trip home. I am dreading the flight. We have a layover in Chicago so at least I’ll get to stretch my legs before the final leg. But then, I have to drive from NJ to MD–a 3-hour hike. And for those that don’t know, the NJ Turnpike is no joke. Alas, it must be done. All good things come to an end and so must vacation. But I am totally looking forward to seeing my dog!!! And the fall weather is approaching, one of my 2 fave seasons.
So there you have it. We went on trolley rides; to the Paradise Cove Luau; Pacific Aviation Museum; the Mighty Mo; Punchbowl Cemetery; the beach; the pool; and a host of restaurants and shops. It was exhausting and relaxing all rolled into 2 beautiful weeks. I’ve tweeted…I’ve posted on Facebook…and I’ve blogged. And now, I’m going to bed. Alooooooha!
Thursday was a bit ‘play it by ear.’ While I do an itinerary each year–ok, I must speak to the itinerary for a moment. Several years back, we didn’t have an itinerary. As a result, every day we came out of our hotel went something like this: “Where do you want to eat? I don’t know, where do you want to eat? Do you want to go to Duke’s? I don’t care, do you want to go to Duke’s?” People, this is a true story–heed my warning, don’t let it happen to you! Since then, I have done an itinerary every year. It outlines activities and eateries for every day. It doesn’t have to be followed to the letter but it does serve as a guide.
This year, I inserted a picture from past trips for each day’s activities, had a caricature drawn for the cover–based on a photo taken at the Mighty Mo, had them printed, bound, wrapped in tissue, covered with beach stickers, secured with a lei, and then mailed one to everyone with a pack of macadamia nuts, a week before we left, to get everyone in the Aloha Spirit. I fear I’ve set the bar too high. But back to Day 5…
We spent the day on the blue line trolley tour. The tour guides were absolutely awesome! Both were Hawaiian natives, born and raised in the islands. We saw the beach where the infamous ‘From Here to Eternity’ beach scene was filmed. A famous blowhole. We stopped by Hanauma Bay and then toured the coastline, absolutely beautiful.
After the 2.5 hour tour, we grabbed a bite to eat at Round Table Pizza (yummy) and then strolled down Kalakaua for the movie on the beach. The night’s viewing was the season 4 premier of Hawaii 5-0 and the cast was there to celebrate. And for the after-show, the Jonas Brothers performed a free concert. Total chaos, but a lot of fun. Seriously, who goes on vacation and then happens to be in town for such a thing? Now, we just have to find out where they’re filming tomorrow so we can be extras in a few shots. We could play tourists!
On day 2 of our vacation in paradise, we went to the zoo. (At the time this post was started, we were still there because it was pouring rain. And since we don’t have a car and were quite a ways from the hotel, sitting in the children’s petting zoo area was the go-to option. Now, unfortunately, we had sent my one cousin to be captured by the gorillas while we hung out with the tiger. He’d been gone a while, but we hoped he would turn up in one piece. Ok…ok…ok…he wanted to see the orangutans, which we had seen, so he went off on his own. And yes, he returned unscathed.)
The zoo trip was the first time I had ever heard a lion roar–that was pretty awesome. The zoo, in general, was pretty cool. My father has been a zoo fan for years, so growing up, I had the privilege of visiting quite a few zoos on our travels, including the Bronx Zoo, where I rode an elephant with my Dad when I was a little girl.
The trip to Honolulu Zoo did not include riding an elephant, but it was fun and definitely worth a visit if you travel to the island; particularly if you have children. Though, I have to say, my 27-year old cousin is the reason we went to the zoo and he had a, and I quote, “a marvelous time.” Apparently, the zoo is for all ages.
After seeing the animals; hanging out under an awning to wait out the monsoon-like rain, I proceeded to walk back to the condo. It’s a loooong walk, or so I thought. Turns out, it was only about 2 miles. But I’m sayin’…it felt waaaaay longer! Lunch, relaxing, dinner, and now we are all drained. I hear snoring going on all around me-I think it’s time to hang it up for the night and see what kind of trouble we can get into tomorrow.