RIP IV Challenge

So... even though we're still in August, I'm already counting down the days for Halloween! My favorite (and definitely Isalys's favorite!) time of the year is almost upon us and we're jumping for joy! It's like there's magic in the air and.. my favorite part... less humidity (Remember, we live in South Florida)!
I love it when the time changes and it starts getting darker earlier. My "fall routine" kicks in which includes huge steaming cups of coffee or tea, my backyard, and a GREAT book! Talk about relaxing! **Ohhh I can't wait**

Anyhoo... I stumbled upon this wonderful challenge over on Nely's site and thought "Perfect! just what I wanted! A reason to read spooky stories" (As if I needed a reason! lol)

RIP IV Challenge Hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings
(Even if you don't want to participate in the challenge you should still pass by his blog. A
wesome. Love his pictures)
He has different levels for the challenge so the one I'm picking is The First Peril. All you have to do is read 4 books of any length and any subgenre that you choose. How simple is that?! The catch is you have to do it between
Sept. 1st and October 31st!

So... what books should I read?? I need good recommendations!

Manic Monday...More Vampirey Goodness!

So as we were browsing our handy dandy Blogger Dashboard, we see that Caffey from Caffey's Reads has stumbled upon a wonderfully Vampy blog called Vampire Diaries Online. We love love love this blog! It's filled with all the vampirey goodness we've all come to appreciate -- sexy as hell, ark, brooding vamps!

Here are some pics we got from the Vampire Diaries Online site:

Vampire Diaries Episode 2 pics:

Now, if you think these photos were hot, and you're thirsting for more information (pun intended!) do yourselves a favor and visit the Vampire Diaries Online website!

New - New Moon Pics!

We found some Yummy new NEW Moon pics!
Aren't they awesome?!
This movie really does look like it's going to be great!

What do you guys think?
Sinister Hot? Or Totally Not?

Fresh Friday 08.28.09

Isalys's Choice:
One Pan Chicken & Potato Bake
Prep Time: 10 min| Total Time: 1 hr 10 min| Makes: 4 servings

What You Need:
4 bone-in chicken pieces (1-1/2 lb.)
1-1/2 lb. potatoes (about 3), cut into thin wedges
1/4 cup KRAFT Zesty Italian Dressing
1/4 cup KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 tsp. Italian seasoning

Make It!
HEAT oven to 400°F. Place chicken and potatoes in 13x9-inch baking dish.

TOP with dressing; sprinkle with cheese and seasoning. Cover.

BAKE 1 hour or until chicken is done (165ºF), removing foil after 30 min.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Vanessa's Choice:
Frozen Strawberry Kiwi-Tini
Prep Time: 5 min | Total Time: 5 min| Makes: 6 servings, 2/3 cup each

What You Need:
2 cups ginger ale
1/2 cup vodka
1 tub CRYSTAL LIGHT Strawberry Kiwi Flavor Drink Mix
2-1/2 cups crushed ice
6 each kiwi and strawberry slices

Make It!
PLACE ginger ale, vodka and drink mix in blender container; cover. Blend until drink mix is completely dissolved.

ADD ice; cover. Blend on high speed until smooth. Pour into 6 martini glasses. Garnish each with a kiwi and strawberry slice.

Enjoy :)

Wicked Wednesday Winners!

Congratulations to all the winners!

Dark Hunger by Rita Herron:
Jake Lsewhere

The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer:


How to Tame a Modern Rogue by Diana Holquist:
I Heart Book Gossip

So Into You by Sandra Hill:

All winners were chosen using and all extra points earned were included. Everyone has already been contacted via email and we look forward to your reply with your name & mailing address (no PO Boxes please). Your prize will be shipping directly from the Publisher's office.

If for any reason, you did not receive our email and you see that you have won, then please feel free to just email us your contact info.

Blog Tour & Review: Time of my Life by Allison Winn Scotch

Jillian is in a rut! Her life has become a mindless routine of cleaning house, power walks, a crying baby and a husband that she sees between business trips. One day, while walking with a friend, she's told that her ex is engaged to be married. Surprisingly, even though her and Jackson have been apart for years, this bit of news knocks some of the wind out of her. She's left wondering if she's made the right decisions in her life. What if she stayed with Jackson instead of marrying Henry? What if she hadn't quit her job at the ad agency or sold her Manhattan apartment? What if....?

While trying to cope with this news, she pays a visit to her masseuse who tells her that she needs to 'unblock her chi'. Well, he must have been one heck of a masseuse because he didn't just 'unblock her chi', but he unknowingly sent her back 7 years in time. She wakes to find herself 7 years younger and in her Manhattan apartment with Jackson and still working at the ad agency. However, she still has the memories of her current (now future?) life. Armed with twenty/twenty hindsight, she's determined to carve out a different future for herself.

Using her memory cheat sheet, she is able to avoid old arguments, get work done more efficiently, and be prepared for important life altering moments & decisions. What she later realizes is that all those adjustments that she makes don't just affect her, but affect those around her as well. Life seems to be going better the second time around. Her job is flourishing, her relationship with Jackson is becoming permanent, and her friendships are growing stronger...but she cannot shake the memories of Henry or her daughter Katie. There is a certain emptiness that lingers. It also doesn't help that Henry makes several appearances in her past prompting her to consider whether he really is her future.

This is one of those books that really makes you think. What if we got a second chance at life? Would we do things differently?

Jillian's character was very easy to relate to. We've all felt at times like we're spinning our wheels and getting no where. Her frustrations all seemed normal and given the opportunity to go back into our own past, we'd probably make very similar decisions to hers. What I loved about this story isn't just how we connect to the characters, but about the lessons that are learned. Jillian became unhappy because she conformed...she didn't speak up when she should have and she settled for what seemed to be the "right" life. There is no right's what we make it!

Once this book grabs you, it doesn't let you go. You become eager to see who she'll end up with or how her future will be affected by this trip to her past. By the end of the book, even I felt like I learned a lesson or two :)

I give this book ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Tuesday's Teasers 08.25.09

Today's new releases are:

And Isalys is especially excited about:

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading and it asks us to...

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!
Here is Isalys's teaser for this week:
"I crumple to the ground, where my mother's blood has stained the hem of my best dress, forever staining it. And then the scream I've been holding back comes pouring out of me hard and fast as a night train just as the sky opens wide and fierce rain pours down, drowning out every sound."
~p. 17 from "A Great & Terrible Beauty" by Libba Bray

Here is Vanessa's teaser for this week:

"Real life's nasty. It's cruel. It doesn't care about heroes and happy endings and the way things should be. In real life, bad things happen. People die. Fights are lost. Evil often wins. I just wanted to make that clear before I began."
~p. 3 from "Cirque Du Freak: A living Nightmare" by Darren Shan

Manic Monday...Cirque Du Freak

We have another book-to-film announcement :)

About the Book
Cirque Du Freak, The Vampires Assistant
by Darren Shan

Book Synopsis:
What if you were an unwilling vampire? You needed to drink human blood to stay alive, but you weren't some horror-flick villain; you were
you, born human--a nice person, even. Thus is the dilemma of the young narrator-protagonist, Darren Shan, in this tremendously suspenseful, oft-sickening sequel to Cirque Du Freak: The Saga of Darren Shan.

In the first book, Darren becomes a vampire's assistant to save the life of his friend Steve. In order to do so, he has to fake his death, get buried alive, and head out--half-human, homeless, and friendless--into the world.
The Vampire's Assistant chronicles his new lonely life as a half-vampire, pumped with the cursed blood of his vampire guardian, Mr. Crepsley. Darren has much to learn about his freshly supernatural state. He doesn't grow fangs, for instance, like he thought he might. And he can't change shape or fly. Garlic just gives vampires bad breath... And they eat bagels. Some of the hardest lessons of all come when he joins the traveling freak show Cirque Du Freak, the show that got him and Steve in trouble in the first place.

Readers won't be disappointed by this fast-paced, gory, but strangely amiable sequel. In fact, the plot is much better paced than the first and the dialogue far more natural. Deadly pythons, a snake boy, Cormac Limbs (bite off his finger and it grows back!), and an entire cast of dreadfully creepy characters offer excitement beyond expectation. Along the way, we come to really like Darren, who will do absolutely anything for a friend. British author Darren Shan promises more adventures in 2002. (Ages 10 and older)

--Karin Snelson

The Movie

Directed by Paul Weitz

In theaters October 23, 2009

The book is targeted for a younger audience. We've heard good things about it, although we've been reluctant to read it because it is for 10+ old readers. However, Isalys caught a preview at the movies this past weekend and the movie definitely looks promising with a cast that features some pretty big names :)

Official Movie Trailer

Has anyone read the books? If so, would you recommend them to someone much older than 10 (lol)? What do you guys think of the movie?

Review: Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Do yourselves a favor, GO OUT AND GET THIS BOOK!
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before-and survival.

This is by far the best book I've read in quite some time. It is completely different than anything else I've read. Katniss (not to be confused with Catsnip), our heroine of the story, learns to illegally hunt game in the forest, with her friend Gale (a boy), for survival. Her father, before he died (don't worry this is not a spoiler), taught her how to hunt and survive in the wilderness. She uses her gatherings to sell and trade in the Black Market. Without Katniss, her mother and little sister Prim, couldn't survive.

The story begins with the family, and every other family in District 12, going into a drawing. Although, a "drawing" sounds like a fun lottery, to District 12 and all the Districts in Panem, the drawing could mean death. Two members of each district between the ages of 12 and 18 are drawn. One boy and one girl. The 24 tributes
(that's the word used for the victims, ahe
m I mean, the chosen ones) must all compete against each other in a survival of the fittest match a.k.a the Hunger Games. There can only be one survivor. When Prim's name is called, Katniss races to the stage and volunteers herself instead. The second tribute, Peeta, the Bakers son, is also called.

They're both swept into a different world. One, at first, is filled with an exceptional amount of food - a feast. They are heartily fed for the week before the match is to begin. They are assigned stylists who primp and prepare them for the cameras and interviews they're about to give, as if they were going to some happy place to vacation. (The irony of it all is never lost on the reader.) The purpose of this charade is to attract sponsors. The more likable you are, the higher your chances of attaining one. Sponsors will send you little packages throughout the Hunger Games that will help you in some way. Thus the more sponsors you have, the better chance you have of surviving.

Unfortunately for Katniss and Peeta, the tributes from the other places come from richer Districts. The have been training their
whole lives for this. These tributes are known as Career Tributes. Katniss and Peeta feel they don't stand a chance. Apparently so does their "prep team" because they have formed an illusion in front of the camera and audience members during their interviews of a blossoming love. Katniss doesn't understand why're they're doing this at first because, in the end, when it comes down to the last few combatants, she may very well have to have a face-off with Peeta (since their can only be one survivor). It finally dawns on her that by playing up the "romance bit" it just may get her more sponsors. She's not much of an actress though so it's a bit of a struggle for her since she's always closed off her emotions.

The 24 combatants are thrust onto a man-made field for hand-to-hand combat. They must all fight for their survival and kill one another. The last person standing wins. When the buzzer sounds, signaling for them to get out of their starting point, they must either decide to run up to a table filled with some survival kits and possibly face other memb
ers who are willing to kill them over the same kits or run for their lives into the forest.

The members face starvation, dehydration, infections, fires, and everything horrible you can think of. In a place where everyone is out to get you, Katniss forms an alliance with an unlikely person and they strike up a friendship. Then the rules change: there won't be just one survivor. If two members of the same District are left standing, they will both be the winners. At that, Katniss and Peeta find each other and strike up a romance. Is it real? Is it played up for TV? Will they both survive or just one of them or will they both die from their infections and dehydration?

This is definitely a true page turner. Even though it's considered a young adult book, it deals with adult content. Not in the
romantic "adult content" sense, but in the topics it covers and the questions it forces you to ask yourself, such as, what would I do in that situation? Would I be able to kill if I were being attacked? Would I survive in the wilderness (I already know the answer for me... NO). Would I be able to trust someone I know would kill me in the blink of an eye, but who's help I need to survive, ironically enough?

I give this book and I highly recommend it!

Blog Tour / Review: How It Ends by Laura Wiess

All Hanna's wanted since sophomore year is Seth. She's gone out with other guys, even gained a rep for being a flirt, all the while hoping cool, guitar-playing Seth will choose her. Then she gets him -- but their relationship is hurtful, stormy and critical, not at all what Hanna thinks a perfect love should be. Bewildered by Seth's treatment of her and in need of understanding, Hanna decides to fulfill her school's community service requirement by spending time with Helen, her terminally ill neighbor, who she's turned to for comfort and wisdom throughout her life. But illness has changed Helen into someone Hanna hardly knows, and her home is not the refuge it once was. Feeling more alone than ever, Hanna gets drawn into an audiobook the older woman is listening to, a fierce, unsettling love story of passion, sacrifice, and devotion. Hanna's fascinated by the idea that such all-encompassing love can truly exist, and without her even realizing it, the story begins to change her. Until the day when the story becomes all too real...and Hanna's world is spun off its axis by its shattering, irrevocable conclusion.

Hanna was a cheerful & curious little girl. When her parents began having issues, she would go spend time with her neighbor Helen. Over the years, their bond grew into that of a grandmother and her grandaughter. As Hanna reached her adolescent years, her interests began changing and they particularly involved Seth...her highschool love! She knew that Seth was far from perfect; he liked to get high and could be a real jerk at times. However, she had faith in him and faith in love. She still hoped that she would find her "happily ever after" with him. Unfortunately, their relationship didn't cure him of his faults and while Hanna remained focused on having a life of her own (with Seth of course), Helen was left missing her and the special times they had spent together.

Helen's home used to be a place of refuge for Hanna. She would always turn to her for comfort and advice, but when Helen became ill, her home no longer provided the comfort that Hanna had come to rely on. As part of her community service requirement, Hanna would visit her and she'd play one of Helen's audiobooks for her. The story they listened to was very unsettling and left Hanna with many questions. Questions that made her reflect back on her own life & relationships and what's worse, the shocking conclusion rattled her beyond expectation.

How It Ends, is a unique coming-of-age tale that explores some of the most fundamental human bonds and experiences. The book began with a two-part narrative: Hanna and Helen. It allowed the reader to understand what these two ladies were experiencing at different moments of their lives - that is until Helen lost her ability to speak because of her disease. Instead, the gaps were filled with "How It Ends" the audio book (clever huh?) and I thought Wiess did an excellent job weaving the stories together. With Hanna's character, she really captured the essence of being a teenger; rebellious, irrational and stubborn to a fault. With Helen, you felt great empathy for someone who became trapped in her own body with no way out.

This book had a little bit of everything: humor, angst, mystery, fear, shock, and most importantly love in all it's shapes & sizes. Wiess, in one book, touched on so many aspects of life from various types of relationships to disease and the eventual shut down of the body. For me, it marked her as an excellent writer because she did it so seamlessly.

I can't say that this book has a happy or sad's really a bit of both! I would not recommend this book for someone who's looking for an immediately meaningful story or a fun, light read. However, I would recommend it for a book club, discussion group or just someone looking for an intense & touching story. By the end, it had me on the brink of tears and I could only sit there and ponder it before going to bed. It was a truly fascinating book and the more I think back on it, the more I like it :)

I give this book

Fresh Friday 08.21.09

Vanessa's Choice:
Veggie Packet Pita Pocket

Prep Time: 10 min | Total Time: 10 min | Makes: 2 servings

What You Need:

2 carrots, shredded
2 Tbsp. sliced black olives
2 Tbsp. KRAFT Tuscan House Italian Dressing and Marinade
2 whole wheat pita breads (8-1/2 inch), cut in half
2 Tbsp. PHILADELPHIA Neufchatel Cheese, softened
2 lettuce leaves, torn in half
1 red pepper, cut into 8 rings

Make It!
COMBINE carrots, olives and dressing.
SPREAD insides of pitas with Neufchatel.
FILL with lettuce, peppers and carrot mixture.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Isalys's Choice:
Frozen Chocolate Mousse Squares
Prep Time: 15 min | Total Time: 6 hr 15 min| Makes: 16 servings

What You Need:

12 OREO Cookies, crushed
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, melted
2 tubs (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese Spread
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
4 squares BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted
1 cup thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping

Make It!
MIX cookie crumbs and butter in foil-lined 9-inch square pan; press onto bottom of pan.
BEAT cream cheese spread in large bowl with mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in milk. Blend in chocolate. Whisk in COOL WHIP. Spoon over crust; cover.
FREEZE 6 hours. Remove from freezer 15 min. before serving. Let stand at room temperature to soften slightly before cutting to serve.
Happy munching!

Inverted Bookshelf

Hello my fellow Book Lovers!
I found this super cool website and thought I'd share this neat trick with you. It's an inverted bookshelf that makes your books seem like they're dangling from an upside down shelf. How cool is that?! I definitely want to try this :)

Here are the instructions:
Step 1: Materials

In addition to the basic materials for a shelf of wood and brackets, you will also need elastic webbing and a staple gun. The elastic that I'm using here can stretch beyond 200% of its original size and is certainly strong enough to hold the books here.
optional: glue gun

Step 2: Measure it outThe key things you need to figure out are how wide your books are and what length of elastic is good enough to support all of the books against the board without crushing them against it.

Measuring out my books, the average width was one inch and the ideal length of elastic turned out to be 14 inches.

Step 3: Staple the elastic to the boardNow that you have a length and a width, the next step is to staple gun two pieces of elastic down the middle of the board. I'm going to be suspending 12 books here, so I used just over 14 feet of material for each side.

Start each piece of elastic with the excess facing in. Staple this in place and fold the elastic back over to start running it down the board. Measure out 14 inches, staple it one inch farther and repeat until you get to the other end and fold the excess back inside again before stapling it.

Step 4: Insert books to test
I slid the books in and even the heaviest book was perfectly snug. It turned out that two straps was too much for the smaller books and started to compress them, so I only used the front strap and squished the other strap behind it.

Step 5: Add brackets and attach to wall
Now that you know that the shelf itself is stable, add a couple of brackets to the other side of the board. Then simply screw it into the wall.

Note: This was intended for a short term installation. To make it more permanent, I'd recommend hiding a couple L brackets on the underside.

Step 6: Sit back and enjoy!
You can leave it as is or go for some more realism by gluing some toys, bookends, or even a fake drink to the bottom of the board to complete the look

For more pictures, please visit this website:

True Blood Anyone? *Updated*

For all you fans of the show True Blood on HBO, have I got some goodies for you?

Next year, True Blood will be introducing a 2010 calendar featuring the stars of the show as models and look what I found...

Mr. Alexander Skarsgard, better known as Eric the Viking, will be
Mr. January!

Vanessa is a Bill kind-of-gal, but as for ME...I am all about Eric ♥
And after seeing this, I am hopelessly devoted to the 1,000 yr old viking vampire!


And if that's not enough True Blood goodness for you, then get a load of this!
Tru Blood (the beverage) isn't just for vamps anymore...or TV for that matter! On September 10, you too can get your own bottle of
Tru Blood. "All Flavor. No Bite."

You can pre-order yours today at Tru Beverage.

Psst, before you guys freak out, it's not really blood flavored...only blood colored. Rumor is that it tastes like Orange. That's not so bad huh?!

Still not enough? Man, you guys are ruthless! In that case, here's the opening theme song to the show w/ subtitles so you guys can sing along! It's a pretty catchy tune :o)

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