Recipe: Fresh Fruit (Banana) Ice Cream

In honor of spring's late arrival here in the mountains, I'm going to make some fresh fruit ice cream this weekend. The recipe is an Eagle Brand one, and so easy!

Fresh Fruit Ice Cream

3 cups half and half
1 (14 oz can) sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated)
1 cup mashed or pureed fresh fruit (we use banana)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
food coloring (optional)

In a 2 quart ice cream freezer container, combine all ingredients; mix well. Freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.

For a more traditional texture, you might want to transfer to a freezer friendly container and place ice cream in a freezer to harden.


Hump Day "Classic" Movie: The Hard Way (1991)

Ok, once again, I am cheating on the definition of classic. But 1991 *was* 20 years ago! (Yes, I did the math just to make many of you feel old.)

I was in junior high school when The Hard Way came out. It was one of the first times I saw James Woods act, and it made an impression. He was slick, full of attitude, and could talk faster than almost anyone I'd every seen.

This is one of those movies that defies genre labels. It's part crime movie, part action flick, part buddy comedy. It isn't going to make you think, but it will probably entertain you for an hour or two.

Plus, hey, it's got LL Cool J in it. Playing a cop. Hmmm....

Waiting on Wednesday: A Beginner's Guide to Rakes by Suzanne Enoch

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted over at Breaking the Spine. Every week, we highlight titles we just can't wait to get our greedy book-loving hands on.

Format: Mass Market pb
Pub Date: October 4, 2011
Publisher: St. Martin's
ISBN: 9780312534516

Details are sketchy about this book so far, but I did glean from Ms. Enoch's Facebook page that this is the beginning of a new series, not a continuation of the Adventurer's Club series. And... I somehow missed the fact that she's changed publishers! This one is being published by St. Martin's!!

I'm a big fan of Suzanne Enoch's historical romances, and I'm curious to see how a shift in publishers will affect her writing.  *fingers crossed*


Romantic Times Booklovers Convention April 6-10

In exactly a week, I will be heading to Los Angeles to attend my very first romance convention! The RT Booklovers Convention is being held at the Westin Bonaventure hotel in downtown LA next week.

I am planning to blog about the convention here on Buried By Books and to tweet about it on Twitter. You can follow along with other Tweeps by searching the hashtag #RT11 next week.

I'm super excited to be meeting so many people I've chatted with online, but am also really nervous. Why? LA intimidates me. My Northern California town has a whopping 5,000 people and 2 stoplights. I rarely travel, so I am afraid this country mouse might just get swallowed up by the big city! If you are attending and see someone shy lurking by the potted plants, it's probably me.

If you live in the LA area but aren't able to make the entire convention, you might consider attending the Saturday Bookfair. It is open to the public for a fee of $5. You can read about all of the authors attending the signing here.

Is anyone else going to the convention? Any tips for an RT virgin?

Review: My Irresistible Earl by Gaelen Foley

Format: Mass Market; ebook
Pub Date: March 29, 2011
Publisher: Avon (Harper Collins)
Page Count: 400
FTC: Digital ARC via Netgalley

Melodrama, bad dialogue, and an irritating premise made this one a struggle to finish.

I don't mind spies in my stories. I don't even mind secret societies. But I do mind characters who are so immature and irritating that I don't believe anyone in their right mind would trust them with any mission of significance. 

I seem to have a problem lately with books that have flashback scenes to characters in their teenage/early twenties years. Mainly because it seems like authors aren't making an effort to mature those characters once they shift from flashback to the "present." The characters are exactly the same at age 30 as they are at age 16. And that just doesn't work for me.

I found myself skimming the second half of the book. I just couldn't stay engaged. Although there were a few secondary characters who intrigued me enough to want to read the next book in the series.

My Grade: C-

The Blurb:
The Inferno Club: In public, this scandalous society of London aristocrats is notorious for pursuing all manner of debauchery. But in private, they are warriors who would do anything to protect king and country . . .
Once, she had vowed to marry the Earl of Falconridge. Now, she vows to forget him. After he abandoned her for a life shrouded in secrets, Mara, Lady Pierson, has succeeded in keeping him away, until he appears in London unexpectedly, making her fall in love all over again. 

Forced back into Mara's life by duty, the earl quickly stays for love. He has never forgotten this passionate beauty and never meant to break her heart. But their newfound happiness is endangered—because the Inferno Club demands much of its members, and his vital mission is exposing a deadly plot that could threaten their very lives . . .


Review: Captured by a Rogue Lord by Katharine Ashe

Format: Mass Market Paperback; ebook
Pub Date: March 29, 2011
Publisher: Avon (HarperCollins)
FTC: Digital ARC via  Netgalley

Captured by a Rogue Lord really reminded me of Stephanie Laurens's books. Especially Captain Jack's Woman. Probably because smuggling plays a pretty large role in both books. The setting was very well done, with plenty of the atmosphere you'd expect from a book set in or near the coast.

The writing is pretty standard Avon fare as far as I can tell. Nothing jumped out at me as bad OR wonderful. I tend to prefer a stronger voice in my stories, but that's just me.


Operation Auction

Operation Auction

On March 8th, Fatin, a longtime supporter of the romance genre and an integral part of our online book community lost her husband to an act of violence. The romance community has rallied around her by creating Operation Auction, a series of benefit auctions on eBay with all proceeds earmarked for Fatin and her four children.

Romance writers, bloggers, editors, publishers and other professionals have donated items, opportunities, and services for auction. Those auctions will begin to go live at MIDNIGHT on Sunday morning. Items will go up in batches on the 27th, 28th and 29th (nearly all with a 3 day listing duration).

There are some wonderful and generous donations, and I hope many of you bid early and often in support of a person who could use our help.

All of the items will be gathered within the Operation Auction eBay store found here.


RITA and Golden Heart Finalists Announced!

The Romance Writers of America announced the finalists for the RITA and Golden Heart awards today. (The RITA is for published romances; the Golden Heart is for unpublished manuscripts) A big congratulations to all of the finalists. A complete list, separated by genre, can be found at RWA's site here.

As usual there was a mix of books I was happy to see, some I was saddened to see  snubbed. And a couple whose inclusions in the nominees prompted a great, big HUH?

A few I'm rooting for:

Rebel by Zoe Archer [Paranormal Romance] Not my favorite of the Blades of the Rose, but I love the concept and Zoe's writing.

Twice Tempted by a Rogue by Tessa Dare [Regency Historical Romance] This was by far my favorite of the Stud Club series. The writing is just gorgeous and I adored the hero, Rhys.

Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis [Contemporary Single Title Romance] I adored this book. The heroine was so quirky, and had a wonderful character arc. Plus it was, as usual, funnier than hell.

(RITA, the RITA statuette, and Golden Heart are registered trademarks of the Romance Writers of America)

Pondering Social Media and Fangirl Behavior

There's an author I have an admitted fangirl crush on. I love just about everything she writes. And by the weird quirks of fate, she lives in my general region of the country.

I visited her blog about once a week and posted about once a month. And since many of her posts are about the weather, I tended to chime in with what the conditions are here. Never mentioning her location by name or mine.

I also replied to a tweet or two on Twitter, but never very often. And she NEVER responds or engages with me on any level.

That's perfectly fine. I can understand that I'm just not all that interesting or she doesn't have enough time to respond to everyone.

But the other day, she DID respond to one of my blog comments with an email. Yea me, right? Except that it came across as if she didn't believe my post about my weather or road conditions. As if I were *lying* about it because the roads were closed in her area. Why I would do that eludes me, but perhaps I'm just coming across as too familiar or stalkerish? Even though I've gone out of my way to avoid doing just that.

Now, given that I can't hear tone in a written letter, I'm inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt. I responded with the fact that while her highway was closed, mine was not. But it nags at me. I'm backing way the heck off by not visiting her blog or responding to her tweets. I'm sure I'm overreacting. But I'd rather err on the side of caution than gain a reputation as a pest.

So my question is this: has an author's response in any form of social media turned you off from following them or visiting their blog? And did that extend to their books as well? Any advice on other ways I should have handled this?


Waiting on Wednesday: Cipher by Moira Rogers

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted over at Breaking the Spine. It highlights books we just can't wait to get our greedy, book loving hands on.

I'm a huge fan of Moira Rogers's Southern Arcana series. It has great characters, scorching chemistry, and plenty of heart. I just finished up Deadlock (book #3 in the series) and now cannot wait for Cipher which doesn't come out until SEPTEMBER! That's a long, long time to wait. But since it's Kat's story, I'm sure it will be wonderful.

Format: ebook
Pub Date: September 2011
Publisher: Samhain

The Blurb:
Fourteen months ago, Kat Gabriel's life changed forever when she used her empathy as a weapon. Now she can't escape the weight of those deaths--or the loss of the easy friendship she and Andrew once shared. Obsessed with her mother's violent past, Kat is determined to learn the truth of her inner-darkness by understanding her legacy.

Since the attack that turned him into a wolf, Andrew Callaghan has done everything possible to make himself stronger. More capable of protecting Kat--both from the supernatural world that forced her to kill, and from their own volatile connection. Pushing her away hurt them both, but he's finally made himself into the protector she needs.

As Kat's quest leads her into the darkest underbelly of the psychic world, Andrew is determined to be at her side. But every step forward reopens old emotional wounds and shakes their control. For a dangerous alpha and a deadly psychic, distraction could be fatal--especially when the greatest threat they pose is to each other.

Hump Day Classic Movie: The Princess Bride (1987)

Yes, the most quotable movie of all time is turning 24 this year.

Ok, most quotable might be an overstatement, but The Princess Bride does have some fabulously campy quotes. And in Romancelandia, this movie is considered required viewing. Right up there with Romancing the Stone.

What makes this movie so special to me is that it is one of only a handful of films where I can honestly say I liked the movie better than the book. And since William Goldman wrote both the book and the screenplay, it's not like I'm dissing one artist over another.

If nothing else, it's worth watching to see a cute, young Cary Elwes, a young Mandy Patinkin (with a Prince Valiant mullet no less,) and Robin Wright at the very beginning of her film career. It's available on DVD *and* blu-ray.


Quickie Review: Animal Magnetism by Jill Shalvis

Format: Mass Market (also available in ebook)
Pub Date: February 2011
Publisher: Berkley
FTC: Purchased myself

If I have a goofy grin on my face, I'm probably reading a Jill Shalvis book. Nothing makes me smile, snort, grin, or laugh out loud like her books.

I have to admit, though, I stalled picking up this book. As much as I love this author's books, this cover just doesn't do it for me. Yeah, yeah. Don't judge a book and all that, but this just seemed a bit too much on the cutesy side for me. Plus, I got a sympathy itch for the dude on the cover. Pet hair on a naked torso? *Scratches absently*

I really loved Lilah's menagerie. And her clumsiness.

The only thing missing was a bit more angst. It's hard to balance humor with drama, but I wish Brady were just a wee bit more troubled/tortured/wounded. There was plenty of opportunity to develop that angle, too, since Brady is the product of the foster system. Sometimes the story tipped the scales into the too cute area, but for the most part, I enjoyed watching Brady reluctantly fall for the hardworking, animal loving Lilah.

My Grade: B+

The Blurb:

Co-owner of the town's only kennel, Lilah Young has lived in Sunshine, Idaho, all her life. Pilot-for-hire Brady Miller is just passing through. But he soon has Lilah abandoning her instincts and giving in to a primal desire. 

It's Brady's nature to resist being tied down, but there's something about Lilah and her menagerie that keeps him coming back for more.


TBR Challenge Review: What the Librarian Did by Karina Bliss

I've had this in my TBR for a while now (having heard good things about this author), but had completely forgotten about it. It's not *that* old of a book, but since it's now a finalist in the DABWAHA book tourney, I figured now was a good time to dig it out of the digital book pile.

Format: ebook
Pub Date: March 2010
Publisher: Harlequin
FTC: Purchased myself

The Blurb:
Is Rachel Robinson the only one on campus who doesn't know who Devin Freedman is? No big deal except that the bad-boy rock star gets a kick out of Rachel's refusal to worship at his feet. And that seems to have provoked his undivided attention. Devin, the guy who gave new meaning to the phrase "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll." Devin, the guy who somehow becomes wedged between her and the past she's kept hidden for years.

It's up to this librarian to find out firsthand just how "bad" he really is. Because her secret--and her growing feelings for a man who claims he's bent on redemption--depend on his turning out to be as good as he seems. Which is really, really good.


Buried By Books Birthday Bash

Ok, so it's not really a bash. I just like alliteration. But today IS my birthday.

So, to celebrate, I'm giving away a $15 gift certificate to either Amazon.com or BN.com! (Winner's choice)

The Rules:
The giveaway is open to everyone!

If you live internationally and cannot use a US-based gift certificate, I will substitute a book of your choice (up to $15 value) from the Book Depository. The only requirement is that you live somewhere they ship.

Just Fill Out the Form to enter. You don't have to comment, but I'd love to hear from you anyway!

Winner will be chosen by random draw.  Entries are open from March 15-31, 2011. Winner will be chosen on April 1st.  Email addresses are for contact purposes only and will not be shared.


Review: Cold Wind by C.J.Box

Format: Hardcover
Pub Date: March 22, 2011
Publisher: Putnam (Penguin)
FTC: Review copy received from the publisher

The Blurb:
When Earl Alden is found dead, dangling from a wind turbine, it's his wife, Missy, who is arrested. Unfortunately for Joe Pickett, Missy is his mother-in- law, a woman he dislikes heartily, and now he doesn't know what to do-especially when the early signs point to her being guilty as sin.

But then things happen to make Joe wonder: Is Earl's death what it appears to be? Is Missy being set up? He has the county DA and sheriff on one side, his wife on the other, his estranged friend Nate on a lethal mission of his own, and some powerful interests breathing down his neck. Whichever way this goes . . . it's not going to be good.

I've been out of the mainstream mystery scene for a few years (sticking mainly to romantic suspense or cozies). Which means I wasn't really familiar with C.J. Box. After finishing Cold Wind, though, I know I've been missing out.


A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear

Pub Date: March 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Harper Books (Harper Collins)
FTC: Review copy provided by the publisher

Sometimes coming to a series in the middle just doesn't work. This was one of those times. Although many love Maisie Dobbs, the book just didn't click with me. Everything was off: pacing, characterization, dialogue. It all seemed way too passive for my reading preferences.

A Lesson in Secrets is set in the slim amount of time between World War I and World War II. In fact, the aftermath of the first Great War is very much a part of what drives this book. Maisie is an investigator of sorts who is asked by the Intelligence Service to investigate a school founded by an author made famous by a pacifist children's book.


Waiting on Wednesday: Breaking the Rules by Suzanne Brockmann

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted over at Breaking the Spine. It highlights books we just can't wait to get our greedy, book-loving hands on.

It's only been two years since we've had a new book in Suze Brockmann's Troubleshooters series, but I've been looking forward to Izzy's story for far longer. His book, Breaking the Rules, comes out on March 22!

ISBN: 9780345521224
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Ballantine (Random House)
Pub Date: March 22, 2011

Izzy Zanella wasn't looking for another reason to butt heads
with his Navy SEAL teammate and nemesis, Danny Gillman.
But then he met Danny’s beautiful younger sister, Eden. When
she needed it most, he offered her a place to stay, a shoulder to
cry on—and more. And when she got pregnant with another
man’s child, he offered her marriage. But Eden’s devastating
miscarriage shattered their life together—and made the intense
bad blood between Izzy and Danny even worse.

Hump Day Classic Movie: Three Musketeers (1993)

With all of the bad news about Charlie Sheen and his asshattery, I thought I'd pick something that dates to before he was universally known as a scumbag. Plus, this has the added bonus of Oliver Platt, Chris O'Donnell, Kiefer Sutherland, Gabrielle Anwar, Tim Curry, and Rebecca De Mornay.

In typical Disney fashion, this movie is anything but faithful to the story it is based on. They kept the basic plot and characters, but there's quite a bit of latitude taken with everything else (Most of the actors don't even bother with an accent). That is, however, one of the reasons I adore this version of the Three Musketeers. The over-the-top humor. It's fun AND funny. Our family still yells "D'Artagnan!" at odd moments in the exact tone used by Paul McGann.

Haven't seen it? You can watch the trailer here.


Going to the RT or RWA conventions this year?

For those attending either or both conferences this year, here's something to look forward to. Several authors on Twitter have decided to make Romance Trading Cards to hand out at signings or other events.

It's not a new concept (Moira Rogers has some badass ones for Wilder's Mate), but I think the number of  authors participating is what sets this apart.

Want to see who's coming to which conference and bringing cards with them? Check out the hashtag #romancetradingcards on Twitter. There is supposed to be a master list at RT so that readers can hunt down their favorite authors and give them big puppy dog eyes in exchange for the cards.

A list of participating authors can be found at Jeannie Lin's website here.

You can find out more about the conventions by going to the RWA or  RT sites.


Hump Day Classic Movie: Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

Ah, 1980s cheese at its finest. Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall, Victor Wong, James Hong and really bad special effects. I mean, really, REALLY bad.

This is one of those movies that is meant to be a ridiculous B movie. It's a spoof. A box office flop, Big Trouble in Little China has turned into a cult classic of sorts. The dialogue is OMG awful and the acting is not much better. But if you're in the mood for some B movie deliciousness, try this one.

With a blurb like this one: "An All-American trucker gets dragged into a centuries-old mystical battle in Chinatown," how can you resist?

There is some offensive, dated, racially insensitive stuff here (Asian stereotypes etc), so if that often bothers you, you should probably avoid.

Waiting on Wednesday: Good Girls Don't by Victoria Dahl

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine. It highlights books we just can't wait to get our greedy, book-loving hands on!

Good Girls Don't by Victoria Dahl
Pub Date: August 23, 2011
Format: Mass Market
Publisher: HQN

Although I love nearly everything that Victoria Dahl writes, I particularly love her contemporary romances. This fall, she has 3 books coming out (1 per month)! The first one is Good Girls Don't.
With her long ponytail and sparkling green eyes, Tessa Donovan looks more like the girl next door than a businesswoman – or a heartbreaker. Which may explain why Detective Luke Asher barely notices her when he arrives to investigate a break-in at her family’s brewery. He’s got his own problems – starting with the fact that his partner Simone is pregnant and everyone thinks he's the father. The last thing he needs is a nice girl like Tessa getting under his skin. 
Tessa has her hands full, too. Her brother’s playboy ways may be threatening the business, and the tensions could tear her tight-knit family apart.  In fact, the only thing that could unite the Donovan boys is seeing a man come after their “baby” sister. Especially a man like Luke Asher. But Tessa sees past the rumors to the man beneath.