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STAR-CROSSED LOVERS. Sigh!!!

I just finished listening to JULIET by Anne Fortier (audiobook version, narrated by Cassandra Campbell.)  What a fabulous book, in my opinion!!!

I have been a fan of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet since I was a teenager.  I first fell in love with the story when I saw the 1968 movie adaptation starring Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting.  I couldn’t get enough of that movie when I was a young woman.  That meant going to the movie theater over and over to see the movie, which I did.  Several years later, I bought my first VHS recorder, and Romeo & Juliet was my first movie purchase. 

That being said, I was naturally drawn to the book JULIET like a moth to a flame.  I found the multi-layed past/present plots fascinating and the romance completely satisfying.  Sigh!  I want to emphasize you do NOT have to be a fan of Shakespeare to enjoy JULIET, though.  MY love of the story may have added a deeper level of enjoyment for me, but it’s not mandatory.  I do believe you’ll still enjoy the story if you like mystery and romance combined and especially if you can appreciate the author’s weaving 14th Century and the present day world into a complex interpretation of Romeo & Juliet.  Apparently this is Anne Fortier’s debut novel, and I am impressed! 

This book was perfect for the romantic in me who believes in neverending love. 

Jamie Ford, the author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (which I also HIGHLY recommend) reviewed JULIET in part by writing:

“Our story begins when Julie’s beloved Aunt Rose dies, leaving Julie and her twisted sister, Janice orphaned. (Their parents died years earlier in Tuscany). But while Aunt Rose leaves the family estate to Janice, Julie is bequeathed next to nothing, just a passport, a key, and a secret–that her real name is Giulietta Tolomei, a descendant of the Tolomeis and the Salembenis, the real families that inspired Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet—and that the “Curse upon both your houses,” is alive and well, 600 years later.

With exquisite detail and flawless pacing, Juliet is a multi-layered tapestry of Julie’s present and Giulietta’s 14th-century past, where families, generations apart, are still at each other’s throats. Betwixt tragedy and epic romance, Juliet will stir your heart and quicken your pulse. After all, if Julie is Giulietta, then where art thou, Romeo?”

In closing, all I can add is…E N J O Y this novel.  I’d love feedback from anyone who has already read and savored JULIET. 

 

What a fun day I had yesterday way way way south in the Redland Riot area of Homestead, Florida.  My husband and I spent Valentine’s Day acting like tourists and visiting places we had never gone to.  The weather was beyond perfect, and we wanted to get outdoors and savor the moment.  We drove and drove and drove through farm country.

Our first stop was the Knaus Berry Farm.  All I can say is yum, yum, yum.  The fresh Florida produce thankfully has not been harmed by the “cold” winter we’ve had.  I bought a basket of perfectly ripe, delectable tomatoes that I yearned for all day today and devoured some of for dinner tonight.   The lettuce, onions, beets, strawberries…all the fruits and vegetables were amazing.  What a difference just picked FRESH PRODUCE makes.  Speaking of which, you can pick your own strawberries there, but I’m too afraid of creepy crawly things. 

My husband veered from the produce area over to the ice cream stand and couldn’t resist a huge strawberry sundae LOADED with jumbo fresh sliced strawberries.

After perusing my trusty map, we headed to the Fruit and Spice Park.  This was the EDUCATIONAL part of our day, where I learned how significant this Park really is.  According to the “guide” in the Park office, we learned the Fruit and Spice Park’s tropical climate can be found nowhere else in the continental U.S. due to a combination of latitude, longitude, and obviously climate.  The Park has over 500 varieties of fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, and nuts, and other commercially important plant specimens from around the world. 

My head was spinning from information overload (not really but the only way I can justify the next photo).  We walked outside…I was feeling frisky…and…

One day off from court reporting and I go crazy!

Then we meandered down the road a pace (I was getting into this rural mode quickly and decompressing from a few HECTIC work weeks) and stopped at Schnebly’s Winery. 

Exotic tropical fruit wines are for sale at Schnebly Redland’s Winery, featuring such local delicacies as mango, guava, lychee, passion fruit and carambola.

Schnebly Redland’s Winery is the first winery in Miami-Dade County and holds the distinction of being the Southernmost winery in the United States. 

 

I couldn’t pass up the wine tasting and tried five wines.  I liked the carambola quite a bit, liked the lychee but wouldn’t drink a lot of it, and did not like the avocado, although I love avocados.  Go figure.  On Valentine’s Day I absolutely HAD to try the passion fruit.  Yes!

So there you have it.  Quite a different sort of “field trip” for me…but lots of fun.  Today I had to give up the Carmen Miranda look and head back to the courthouse and WORK again <g>.

 

I thought I’d share a yummy recipe to continue my Hershey’s Kisses theme for Valentine’s Day.

PEANUT BUTTER BLOSSOMS

Ingredients:

48 Hershey’s Kisses

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter (I like Peter Pan)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Granulated sugar

Directions

  1. 1 Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.
  2. 2 Beat butter and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.
  3. 3 Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.
  4. 4 Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. About 4 dozen cookies.

 E N J O Y ! ! !

February & Romance

Ahhh, it’s February, which connotes Valentine’s Day…and romance.  I’m a romance author, a romance reader, and a consummate romantic.  I believe in love…<g>.

What fun!  February actually has a designated day to celebrate romance.  What better way to mark the day than with CHOCOLATE?  Yummmmmmm.  What is YOUR favorite chocolate?  Yes, there are all kinds of special confections, but one of my passions is Hershey’s Kisses…small delectable morsels of chocolately goodness.  Unlike M&Ms, Kisses dooooo melt in your mouth, which makes them sooooo special.

I know the correct word is “music,” but to use a bit of poetic license:  “If chocolate be the food of love…”  Well, you get the idea.

This is also a great month for romantic comedies.  Some old favorites come to mind, Sleepless in Seattle (in which Valentine’s Day was very important), Serendipity (more chocolate), and Simply Irresistible.  Then there is a newer film, Valentine’s Day. What are your favorite romantic comedies and/or romance movies? 

How about romantic books?  What are your favorites?

Whatever your passion this month, ENJOY…and Happy Valentine’s Day…oh…and discover or rediscover the sensuality of chocolate.

2011, so far

I’m actually having a really nice 2011.  In addition to the usual day-to-day working and keeping up with domestic life, I’ve been reading…a lot.  I’m always happiest when I have a great story that carries me away.  Thus, part of the reason for my exuberance.

Here are some books I’ve read and would recommend: 

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford

Lucia, Lucia, by Adriana Trigiani

The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein

Three Spencer Quinn mysteries if you are a dog lover (as I AMMMMMMM):  Dog on It, One Good Dog, and To Fetch a Thief.  Fun, fun stories!

And now…drumroll because this is sooooo out of character for me…I’m reading the Twilight series.  I can’t believe it!  No one who knows me would believe it!  I just can’t stand not KNOWING what they’re like, having them recommended to me and feeling ignorant.  The SURPRISE here is (at least half way through the second book, Breaking Dawn) is that I’m truly enjoying the series. 

Oh.  Lest you think I sit around reading and eating bon bons all day, many of my books are audiobooks, which I listen to as I drive to and from work, etc., etc.  My latest passion is my iPod Touch, which my WONDERFUL son surprised me with for Christmas.  My Touch has now joined my Kindle as traveling companions.

Happy New Year.  What are YOU reading?

Happy New Year (almost)

I could NOT let this year end without a final 2010 post to my blog.  I am way behind writing here and feel terrible about that.  December started out fine.  I was  busy but happy planning a cruise.  We sailed on Oasis of the Seas for the second time this year.  I intended to do another mini review when we returned, but life got way too hectic.  We returned the week before Christmas, and then my husband came down with a very bad cold, which proceeded to sweep through the house.  By Christmas Eve night my throat was sore, I felt feverish and horrible, and my energy was quickly waning.  Somehow I morphed my way through Christmas Day, fixing dinner and trying to pretend I was “okay.”  Then I got sicker and didn’t feel like doing much of anything for several more days.  HOWEVER, tonight, New Year’s Eve, I am FINALLY starting to feel like myself again.  YAY!  I am considering THAT a good omen for 2011. 

As I look ahead, I wish and pray for good health for my family and friends in 2011.  I hope to write more (when I’m not working), read more to satisfy the craving only books can touch(both on my Kindle and listening to more audiobooks), cruise more, blog more, and continue to connect and network with the people who are truly important in my life.

Here’s to a special new year for all of us with many blessings along our paths.  May at least some of your dreams come true!

It’s December ALREADY?

I can’t believe how the year has flown by.  December is usually my favorite month since I love, love, love the holidays and especially Christmas.  It can be a beautiful time of year.  Even if holidays aren’t frantic with lots planned, it’s a nice time to wind down and curl up with a good book as the days gets colder.  Okay, so it doesn’t get COLD by everyone’s standards here in South Florida, but chilly is just fine with me <g>.

One thing I LOVE to do (in keeping with my “Favorite Things” header is  relax and read while sipping on a flavored coffee such as French Vanilla, Spicy Eggnog, or Chocolate Glazed Donut.  THUS, one purchase I’ve made this holiday season is a Keurig brewer.  I’m soooooo enjoying this.

Do YOU have a favorite coffee pot, brewer, teapot?