Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sweet Reads: White Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake & Pillage

Once a month I'll be posting a dessert recipe and an excerpt(s) from a book thats struck me just right, whether it be gorgeous descriptions, funny dialogue, swoon-worthy kisses, sarcastic come-backs, or spine-tingling encounters. 

It's quite apparent that I will never be a food photographer...

I was first drawn to Pillage by Obert Skye b/c of the cover. A fire-breathing dragon carrying off a mailbox in front of a slivered moon? Made of win! And if you look closely, you can see envelopes trailing away. I don't know what Obert did when he first saw his cover, but if it was me there would have been lots of screaming, tears, and swooning. And maybe some secret cover kisses...(sorry, is that TMI?)

So can you tell I really like this cover? =)

Beck, the mc, has a sarcastic, dry tone to him, which I love in characters, and Obert definitely pegged the all important 'voice' in this novel. Here's some of my fav lines:

* Beck Phillips, bee wrangler.

* "Well, you've got no place to stay," he pointed out. "Even your neighbor has run out of compassion for you. I guess she didn't enjoy you putting her wig on that stray dog."

"It was a joke," I defended.

"It was the final straw."

* I'd always thought if I were ever faced with some terrible situation I would take the high road and bravely make the best of it.

It turns out that's not true.

I went from a boy of fifteen and three-quarters to a child of five and a half in an instant. I screamed like a tiny kid getting his hair pulled by the monster under the bed.

*"I hate spiderwebs," I admitted.

"You're not impressing me," she said dryly.

"I'm not trying to impress you," I said, bothered that she would even think that.

"Well, whether you're trying to or not, you're failing."

I hated girls.

 Pillage is the first in a trilogy, with Choke next and then Ambush(which I will soon be getting my greedy hands on). Now on to the sweet stuff!

Philadelphia 3-Step White Chocolate-Strawberry* Swirl Cheesecake

2 pkgs(8 oz each) Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
3 squares Baker's Premium White Chocolate, melted
1 Oreo Pie crust (6 oz)**
3 Tbsp. strawberry preserves

Heat oven to 350

1. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla w/electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs; mix just until blended. Stir in white chocolate. Pour into crust.

2. Microwave preserves in small bowl on high 15 sec. or until melted. Dot top of cheesecake with small spoonfuls of preserves. Cut through batter w/knife several times for marble effect.

3. Bake 35 to 40 min. or until center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator.

*The recipe is actually raspberry, but as not everyone in the fam is a raspberry fan, I substituted strawberry. And really, you could use any preserves you wanted. I'd like to try it w/blueberry sometime.

** I don't like the Oreo crusts all that much, so I just used a Honey Maid graham cracker crust.

I also melted more white chocolate and dribbled(a fun word!) it on top of the cheesecake: the more chocolate the merrier!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Tired, But Happy(or Lighter in the Pocket, and Heavier on the Bookshelves)

My trip to the book sale netted 33 books! Most were for the kidlet and well... for me, too, because I'm a twenty-eight year old picture book loving grown-up.*smiles sheepishly* But, hey, that's actually great because I've got many years of reading out loud to the kidlet to look forward to.
The spoils of war:
These were my fav picks for the kidlet:
 I was thrilled to get Duckie Duck by Kate Toms, as I love her books. Her illustrations are made from material with stitched edges. And Here's to You! is super bright and colorful, and Kiss Good Night looks very heartwarming(ew, first time typing that I wrote heartworming).

Then my fav picks for me:
Ann Rinaldi is a wonderful historical writer, and I'm glad to add Taking Liberty to my collection of her books. Sharon Creech...yeah, what else is there to say but that- Sharon Creech. And last but not least- The Whipping Boy. I loved this book in school, and was more than happy to pick up this copy showcasing the colorful cast of characters.

So now I bid you adieu, because my feet hurt(cute sandals aren't conducive to walking- and what's sad is that I know this, but... ya know, cute sandals...) and I'm more than ready to call it a night! But before I go, I have to give a quick shout-out to Ern(not a typo, her mother might have named her Erin, but to me she's Ern, or Smern- sorry, Susan!) for going w/me and offering her expert navigating skills and another sets of arms for the squirmy kidlet. Much appreciated! ;)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What's Your Best Book Haul?

Next week I'm going to the Half Price Books book sale at the Indy fairgrounds- and I'm so excited! I'm hoping that I come back with some good deals like I did a few years ago. Look:

I love that the last book says 'The End'- how great is that?

The whole A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, for...wait for it... $13! Which means, since there are thirteen books that I got them for $1 a book(I hate math, but even I had no prob figuring that out. Now if it was Train X was traveling at 30mph and Train Y was traveling at 55 mph-yada-yada-yada- that'd be a different story).

And this year, I'll not only be shopping books for me, but for my kidlet too. I can't decide where I'll be heading first- the picture book section or the young adult section. Can I be cloned, please?

So what about you all? What's the best book bargain you've found that's made you weak at the knees with joy? =)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Interview and Giveaway!!!

Today is June 6th, which means I'm participating in a blog tour for David Estes' latest book, Water & Storm Country, releasing today!

 And judging by the cover, this is going to be an exciting read! Ships, horses, lightning...it doesn't get any better than that! Here's the synopsis on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17609113-water-storm-country
And here's the author, David Estes(looking very relaxed in a comfy hammock- jealous!):
First off, thanks to Leandra for having me on her awesome blog to answer some water-related questions in honor of the release of my new YA dystopian book, Water & Storm Country!

You're welcome, glad to have to you!

Shrimp or calamari?
Overall, shrimp! There are many exciting and delicious ways to prepare shrimp, as a certain soldier- with a bottom lip so big Lieutenant Dan advised him to '...tuck that in. Gonna get that caught on a tripwire.'- explained to Forrest Gump. Yeah, I'm talking about Bubba. But I also like a tasty salt-n-pepper calamari too, are you sure I can't pick both?

Swimming in the ocean- raft or no raft(or if you prefer, floaties)?
RAFT! I'm answering these questions with my wife, Adele, looking over my shoulder, and she immediately said "Raft!" as she knows all too well that I sink like a stone. If I was ever told to walk the plank, they wouldn't even need to tie an anchor to my feet. (Although the floaty idea, while embarrassing, also sounds pretty good)

Sail boat or speed boat?
I have no clue how to use a sail boat, so I gotta go with speed boat. I like getting places fast so I can sneak in a few chapters of whatever book I happen to be reading.

Which would you rather suffer- a shark bite(by a small baby shark that would leave behind only a neat scar and no missing limbs) or a jellyfish sting?
Although a jellyfish sting would be painful and I'd have to pee on it, the thought of even a small thing with teeth taking a chunk out of me isn't particularly appealing. I'll take the minor sting and the peeing.

Snorkeling or deep sea diving?
I would love, love, love to see the deep ocean, but alas, I can't seem to equalize in my ears. The pressure keeps building and building, sending sharp pain through my ears. So I have to go with snorkeling, although I do like diving down a little bit to get up close and personal with the cute tropical fish.

Lost at sea for only three days or marooned on an island for a month?
Island! Sometimes Adele and I feel like we're marooned on an island since we spend so much time on the beach. We're traveling for two years while I write and much of that time has been spent on the beautiful beaches in Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean. We love the ocean!

If you were marooned on an island for a month, and a genie from a conch shell granted you three items you could have, what would they be?
A genie in a conch shell is awesome!! Sorry, just had to say that before I answered. OK, here goes:
1) a boxed set of the Lord of the Rings trilogy- I could read those books again and again without getting bored!
2) a nice, sharp knife- useful for cutting things, like the fish I would try to catch and the fruit I would try to find.
3) a big water-proof tarp- shelter would be key in case there were storms. I'd use sticks, big leaves, and my tarp to build a rock star shelter.

And the most important question of all... Which are cuter- baby dolphins or baby seals?
You saved the toughest question for last! They are both super-duper cute, but if I had to choose just one, I'd have to go with dolphins! They're amazing creatures and so smart!

Wow, that was sooo fun! I've definitely never had interview questions like these, which I love! Thanks again to Leandra for the questions and I hope you enjoyed my answers and enjoy my new book, Water & Storm Country! Happy reading!

Thanks, David! And yes, you can have both shrimp and calamari. ;)

And to coincide with Water & Storm Country, I'm giving away this lovely bookmark, made by Lori Sowers of Hidden Treasury Jewelry. All you have to do to be entered to win is comment, easy peasy!

Ship Bookmark

Also, make sure you enter to try and win an ecopy of Water & Storm Country. There'll be two lucky winners from throughout the blog tour, and one of them could be you! =)


Thanks again to David for answering my really important questions*cough * and congrats on your newest release!