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Friday, March 30, 2012

Fitness Friday: Breakfast Ideas

Friday Fitness is a bi-weekly event here at Jenny Loves to Read

Happy Friday Everyone!

Hope you are well and trying to meet your fitness goals.  For me, I am meeting part of my goals.  Cardio consists of walking the dog, which I do at least a half hour everyday after work.  Weekends it's an hour or more since I'm home.  That's great.  My free weights I did once last week and that was it.  I can't seem to wake up early enough in the morning to get them done.  Hope to be better at that this upcoming week.

As for my eating habits, I'm 50/50.  I do well at work and then when I'm home I tend to fall off the wagon.  Part of it is that we need to go to the grocery store big time.  So if the hubby says lets order out, it doesn't take much for me to say sure!  We discussed this and we both know we need to change, but with the other things going on it's tough.  I meet with the Nutritionist on April 13th, so until then, trying my best.

Breakfast seems to be my best meal of the day.  I usually have oatmeal, consisting of this recipe called overnight oats.  I saw the recipe on a healthy eating blog called Peanut Butter Fingers .  It's written by a young woman named Julie, and she has all kinds of good stuff on there, like workouts and recipe ideas.  It's her overnight oats that I usually eat in the morning.  It consists of oats, almond milk, chia seeds, Greek yogurt, and some fruit.  Here's a link to the basic recipe.  I usually eat half of it early, and the other half mid-morning.  The key is the chia seeds.  They help to firm up the concoction overnight, and they are healthy for you too.  They are noticeable to the eye, but when I eat them I don't notice them.  I get my chia at a nut store called Nuts to You.  I think they may be local to Philly, but check Amazon or  a Whole Foods near you.  Heck the regular supermarket may have them now.  Dr. Oz loves them too apparently.

There are two other food ingredients I would like to try incorporating into my diet are lentils and chickpeas.  Lentils I can make into soup, but I'd like to expand my horizons.  Chickpeas, I tried roasting them before and that didn't work out to well. I am also not a fan of hummus.  Limits my options I know.

Do you have any suggestions for chickpeas or lentils?  What are your favorite healthy items or breakfast ideas?

That's all I have for now.  Hope you have been doing well with your fitness goals and I wish you continued success in meeting those goals.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a fitness expert. Anything I post on here is from my own experiences or from books, magazines, or websites I have read. You do what you will with the information I provide.
© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Friday, March 23, 2012

Guest post: Donna Russo Morin author of The King's Agent

Please give a warm welcome to Donna Russo Morin.  I hope you enjoy reading about the real life places of Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise.


The King’s Agent is many stories in one, with layers of both the tangible and of the spiritual, cerebral, and emotional. That it is an adventurous quest—a search for an ancient relic—is one of the most concrete facets of this multi-dimensional story.  As a very visual writer, as an imaginative soul, I am fortunate enough to so immerse myself in the places my stories take me that my research becomes the airplane upon which my fancies take flight. This quest—this story—unlike any other I’ve written, took me on a journey I will never forget. I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to give you a glimpse into that journey.

The three major challenges of The King’s Agent take place in locations that resemble and symbolize the three canticles of Dante’s Divine Comedy…Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise. We begin, of course, in Hell.

Dante Alghieri’s descriptions of his allegorical locations of Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise are considered, to this day, to be among the greatest ever written. So great, in fact, that visual artists, including the great Salvador Dahli, have been inspired by them since their inception. The illustration here shows the specific nature of Hell lying below a mountain top palazzo.

Though obviously fictional as I’ve depicted it, the Palazzo Prato, in actuality a sixteenth century palace, fits not only the geographical location perfectly but also provides the quintessential structural image befitting the worst level of Dante’s Divine Comedy. The Prato area of Italy (see map) is an ancient one, prehistoric in fact, with evidence of life since the Paliolithic times and later colonized by the Etruscans. Today it is a communal city and the Capitol of the Prato Provence. Between Dante’s words and the images found, it was an explosive combustion for my imagination to turn it into the setting for the Inferno.

From the burning depths of Hell, we can but hope to earn our way to Purgatory, and such was the journey of Battista and Aurelia, the protagonists of The King’s Agent, so it is to Purgatory we now go. From the language and imagery of Dante’s Purgatory, I found my mind’s eye picturing an almost infinite cave maze. How astounded I was when I found the Caves of Pastene, in Italian, Grotte di Pastena.

Baron Carlo Franchetti discovered the caves in 1926 within the Ausoni Mountains and people began touring them less than a year later. The area in which they are located is considered one of the most picturesque of Ciociaria, where the inclemency of the geological events led to the formation of atypical landscapes…where bizarre forms of erosion and karst plains related to ancient lakes. The marvels of this underground world include beatific formations of stalactites and stalagmites, columns, lakes, thunderous waterfalls, and draperies of calcite. The room depicted in the picture, The Hall of the Weeping Willow, was especially awe inspiring as well as perfectly constructed to illustrate Dante’s words. The name of this hall was extracted from the center shape of a column vaguely resembling a willow created by a peculiar union of a stalagmite and a stalactite.
For those worthy, for the best of us, the belief contends that Heaven awaits. But there too, Battista and Aurelia found a challenge. Therefore, my task was to find a place of great yet nonetheless imposing beauty. The Dragon Castle was the archetypal location.

The Castello della Dragonara is located on an islet of land in the province of Genoa, in the town of Camoglia. Though it has been the object of much study, even today its exact dates of construction are undetermined. Built into the side of the cliff at the center of the village, the castle was no doubt originally intended as a lookout and was certainly smaller than its current size.

Through the centuries the castle was used for defensive purposes as well and, as far as the validity of the documents allow, appears to have been enlarged and reinforced on numerous occasions. It was attacked on an equal number of instances, the most notable of which were conducted by Gian Galeazzo Visconti, the duke of Milan, and Nicolo Fieschi, both in the 14th centuries. The powerful fortress often served as a place of refuge for the villager during the many pirate attacks. Twice it was destroyed and twice it was rebuilt; always it rose up from the very tip of the shore, from the very edge of the cliff, to rise up to the heavens above it. When not in use as a stronghold, Castello della Dragonara was utilized as a governmental meeting house, not only by the rulers of the town, but by the government of Genoa.

I won’t, of course, reveal how Battista and Aurelia fair on this magnificent journey, that you’ll have to discover for yourself, but I can tell that these three amazing locations are not the only stops on their journey. There is the beauty of Mantua, the magnificence of Florence, and no Italian adventure would be complete without a stop in the glory that is Rome (and with Michelangelo as guide no less).

Yes, this book took me on a greater journey in a sense than any other I’ve written before. I am delighted to have shared some of the highlights with you. Buon viaggio e buono fortuna (safe journey and good luck)!


Donna thank you very much for your guest post.  I enjoy discovering the real life places that are inspiration or really behind the objects in books.

Donna Russo Morin was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1958. Her writing endeavors began at age six and covered such timely topics as The Pink Pussy Cat for President and The   Numbers 2 and 4 are in Love.
Traveling through adolescence on the wings of the ‘60s gave Donna a lot of grist for her writing   mill. Feminism, civil rights, the Vietnam War were all a disturbing yet highly motivating muse.   Donna found her voice in fiction and with the appearance of a new horror writer on the book scene, a little known author named Stephen King, she turned her pen to the gruesome and the grotesque.

After graduating from the University of Rhode Island, Donna worked in marketing and advertising for large corporations and small non-profit arts organizations. When she had her children, she knew with a certainty that she needed to show them, by example, that if you believe in yourself, anything is possible.

In addition to writing and teaching writing, Donna has worked as a model and actor since the age of seventeen, when she did her first television commercial for Sears. Since then she has appeared in more than thirty television spots and print ads, everything from changing the oil in her car (that was acting) to modeling fur coats. She also appeared in three episodes of Showtime’s THE BROTHERHOOD, as well as in Martin Scorsese’s THE DEPARTED.

Donna lives peacefully, close to the beautiful shoreline of Rhode Island that she loves so much, with her two sons, Devon and Dylan, her greatest works in progress.

Link to tour schedule:
Links for author Donna Russo Morin:  WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER
Twitter Event Hashtag:  #KingsAgentVirtualBookTour

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Monday, March 19, 2012

Review and Tour Stop: The King's Agent by Donna Russo Morin

Publisher: Kensington
Genre: historical fiction
Trade paperback, 432 pages
Book Source: Historical Fiction Book Tours

From Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours:

To the casual observer, Battista della Palla is an avid art collector, or perhaps a nimble thief. In reality, the cunning Italian is an agent for François, the King of France, for whom he procures the greatest masterpieces of the day by any means necessary. Embroiled in a power struggle with Charles V, the King of Spain, François resolves to rule Europe’s burgeoning cultural world. When he sets his sights on a mysterious sculpture, Battista’s search for the elusive objet d’art leads him to a captivating woman on a mission of her own…

Having spent her life under the controlling eye of her protector, the Marquess of Mantua, Aurelia longs for freedom. And she finds it in Battista. Together, they embark on a journey to find the clues that will lead him to the sculpture—a venture so perilous it might have spilled from the pen of Dante himself. From the smoldering depths of Rome to a castle in the sky, the harrowing quest draws them inextricably together. But Aurelia guards a dark secret that could tear them apart—and chance the course of history…
Three Reasons Review:
1.)Reasons you chose this book
Historical fiction, the search for a lost treasure, and set in Italy...sold!  I also discovered the author used Dante's Divine Comedy and the video game Legend of Zelda (two of my interests) as inspiration for elements of the story, so I knew this author was for me.  Lastly, I have heard good things about Morin's
previous books and she has been on my list of authors to read.
2.)Reasons you liked or disliked this book
I loved, loved, loved this book!  So much so that I plan on re-reading it again in the future.  To me this book did not read like the usual HF.  I think HF tends to follow a familiar outline: setting is an important historical event, female is a main character, said female affects or is involved with said historical event, and also falls in love along the way.  There is nothing wrong with that.  HF is one my favorite genres to read, and maybe that is the best way to write it.  Makes sense, right?
With The King's Agent, I felt as though Aurelia and Battista were both focal points of the story.  They both shared in the historical events that were unfolding, and the adventure was as much of the story as the characters and the history were.  Speaking of which, the adventure, its reason and how Morin described and played that out was awesome!  I loved it and I held my breath at times while I read those sections.  Totally unexpected for an HF but within the confines of this story, it was perfect.  Morin uses Dante's Divine Comedy as the vehicle for the search for the lost treasure.  I've always wanted to read Dante's work, and now here's another reason to.  That's my plan: Divine Comedy and then re-read The King's Agent.  I think I will have a better appreciation and enjoy it even more. 
Back to the characters, both Aurelia and Battista were enjoyable because they were both strong, yet vulnerable; principled and believed in their respective causes.  As for Aurelia, she has an air of mystery surrounding her.  Who is she?  Why is she a ward of the Marquess and so sheltered?  What's her true nature and purpose?  Aurelia's story thread was kinda explained but remains hazy to me.  I was slightly miffed at that, but now I think that was Morin's intention.  As for Battista, he is so lovable and a joy to accompany on his adventures.  He has a great sense of duty and family, and I liked that.  All of the characters in this book were lovable, even Battista's company of friends.
The writing and detail drew me in from the start. the setting, the clothes, the moment the reader meets Battista liberating a piece of art, everything draws you in.  Morin firmly places the reader in the story alongside her characters.  I felt the flames and heat licking my skin too!  With respect to the historical details they were executed perfectly.  Nothing felt forced or intentional.  I especially liked the inclusion of Michelangelo.  Yes, the great Michelangelo.  He added another layer to the story that was rich and enjoyable.  If Morin ever decides to write another novel featuring Michelangelo, I'm there.  I liked her portrayal of him.
3.)Reasons for recommending
This story was refreshing and different.  I did not want the story to end, and I thoroughly enjoyed and lost myself in it's pages.  I highly recommend this book and I intend ti explore Morin's back list as well.  Excellent book!
My Rating: 100
For more infromation about Donna Russo Morin please visit her website.
Thanks to Historical Fiction Book Tours for including me on the tour.  Please be sure to stop back on Friday March 23rd, for a guest post by Donna.  I'm so looking forward to it.
 © Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Suddenly Sunday (Mar. 18) and Giveaway Winners!

Hosted by Svea from Muse in the Fog Book Book Reviews

Hello lovely Readers!  Hope this Sunday finds you all well and enjoying this gorgeous weather.  although truth be told, the crazy weather concerns me a bit.  Global warming and all, it just doesn't seem right.  Anyways, I also hope you had a wonderful St. Patrick's Day and your hangover isn't too bad.  I recommend a nice warm Irish coffee to set you to rights.  

Life in general is good, just crazy busy.  I have hardly posted in March but that can't be helped.  Trying to balance my work reading with my pleasure reading, and again that's always tough as well.  As for review copies, I think I'm just about at my year's limit.  I need to double check.  However, I have started telling people to take me off their lists.  No email offers, no me feeling bad saying no. With two exceptions, I am saying no to everyone.  I also started getting unsolicited books in the mail and I don't like that AT ALL.  I have enough to read, and some of what I have received are things I don't want to read, possibly at all.  Just annoying is all.

On the home front, Kona is doing fantastic.  We have upped our walks to 30 minutes each time, and I now consider her my fitness buddy.  Haven't been able to get to the gym, so i walk at lunch for 30 minutes and then when I come home from work with Kona.  This week I'm bringing back weights to my morning routine, and contacting a nutritionist.  I apologize for no Fitness Friday post this past week but my day job does come first unfortunately.  It pays the bills.  Hopefully the next Fitness Friday I'll have information from the nutritionist to share.

In reading news, I read that at the end of the month is Bloggiesta, and I am considering joining.  There are things I need to clean up on the blog or posts that need to typed, so that weekend would be a good time to do it.  Visit It's all About Books read the post and sign up if interested.

This week on the blog I have a review and tour stop for The King's Agent (LOVED it), and the author Donna Russo Morin with a guest post on Friday.  I may post an old lingering review in between those two, but that what's going on my blog this week.

What are you up to this week?  Any good books or events lately?  Hope life is going well for you :)

Last but not least I have winners from my giveaway of Shana Galen's book The Rogue Pirate's Bride.

Congratulations to Renee Brown and Stacybuckeye

I will be in touch to get your snail mail addresses.  Thanks to all who entered and I'm sorry I don't have copies for everyone.

That's it from me.  Hope your books are good and your week is fab!

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Friday, March 2, 2012

Fitness Friday: Improvisation is a good thing

Fitness Friday posts every other Friday

Happy Friday and welcome to a long overdue Fitness Friday post.  The reason why improvisation is a good thing is because lately, that’s how my work-outs have been since last we chatted.  Due to my new puppy with a boo-boo, I’ve only been to the gym twice since January 15th.  This is not something I like, but it’s just the way it is right now.  Hence work-outs require improvisation.  For me that means trying to get walking into my day anyway I can.  I try to walk at lunch for 30 minutes if I can, and then possibly a 20 minute walk that gets me about half way home after work.  I try to get both walks in daily,  but I've had to work through lunch here and there the past few weeks.  L  Sucks for Jenny

There is light at the end of the tunnel though.  Boo-boo puppy is healing quite well, and her walks are getting ramped up to longer periods of time.  We are trying to get her to 3- 30 minute walks per day.  That’s what Mamma likes to hear!  When the weather gets even nicer I foresee even longer walks.  To make up for the lack of physical activity, I’ve been trying to eat better, but that’s 50-50 for me.  I have plans on visiting a nutritionist soon, and I am certainly looking forward to that.  So until then, I try to eat better, and sneak activity anywhere I can.

How have you been doing with your fitness since January?  Any tips you want to share?  

DISCLAIMER: I am not a fitness expert.  Anything I post on here is from my own experiences or from books, magazines, or websites I have read.  You do what you will with the information I provide. 

 © Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Review: Girls Like Us by Rachel Lloyd

Publisher: Harper Perennial
Genre: Memoir
 Paperback, 288 pages 
Book Source: TLC Book Tours
My Rating:  95/100

During her teens, Rachel Lloyd ended up a victim of commercial sexual exploitation. With time, through incredible resilience, and with the help of a local church community, she finally broke free of her pimp and her past and devoted herself to helping other young girls escape “the life.”
In Girls Like Us, Lloyd reveals the dark world of commercial sex trafficking in cinematic detail and tells the story of her groundbreaking nonprofit organization: GEMS, Girls Educational and Mentoring Services. With great humanity, she shares the stories of the girls whose lives GEMS has helped—small victories that have healed her wounds and made her whole. Revelatory, authentic, and brave, Girls Like Us is an unforgettable memoir.


Choices, options, alternatives, these are all things that girls who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation do not have.  Author Rachel Lloyd knows this fact because she herself was once one of those girls.  Emotionally and physically abused, doing what she had to in order to survive, Lloyd was lucky enough to escape the life.  She now makes her life’s work to help, nurture and support as many commercially exploited girls as she can.

This book is a memoir but Lloyd crafts it is such a way that it is a memoir, documentary, and research paper all in one.  The reader learns how underage girls, mostly under 16 years of age, are easy targets for pimps, who are usually much older and worldly than their prey.  Yes, those same pimps, whom society has deemed as cool and interesting.  This is also discussed a bit in the book.  Through her nonprofit organization GEMS (Girls Educational and Mentoring Services) Lloyd does outreach in New York City prisons and detention centers, trying to offer hope and a chance for girls to get out of the life.  But it is unbelievably difficult for these girls to break away for many reasons, most of all they have nowhere to go.  No family, no friends, no place to sleep.  Therefore the “comforts” that pimps can provide, for fees coming from sex of course, are the only option these girls have.

With each chapter Lloyd explains how and why the life exists, how it operates, society’s attitudes and ignorance, and trying to break free.  The narrative interweaves facts with stories about GEMS girls, in addition to Lloyd’s personal experiences in the life.  Lloyd and the girls are mirror images of each other, and my heart goes out to all of them.  I definitely think much differently about several aspects of this life and our society’s response towards it.

What struck me the most and has stayed with me is the examples of glamorization of the life by society.  From rappers being pimps and joking about the life, to how Law & Order: SVU makes it look so easy to get out.  It never occurred to me, or I had never taken this problem seriously.  Everyone is so concerned right now with birth control, how about helping these girls on the streets who have no one to turn to .  But let me not get political.
This was a wonderfully written book that has made me question our society and what I can do to help these girls.  Sure I can make a donation to GEMS, but I will also tell everyone I know about these issues to make them think. I highly recommend this book, and I am so glad I read it, even though it may not make for the happiest of reading.  It is subject that should be discussed and receive public awareness.  Hopefully this book is the first step.

Please visit the GEMS website for more information on how you can help and spread the word about sexually exploited girls

Rachel’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, February 28th: Take Me Away
Wednesday, February 29th: The House of the Seven Tails
Thursday, March 1st: Jenny Loves to Read
Monday, March 5th: The Feminist Texican
Tuesday, March 6th: Book Hooked Blog
Wednesday, March 7th: Sidewalk Shoes
Thursday, March 8th: Melody & Words
Monday, March 12th: Elle Lit
Tuesday, March 13th: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Wednesday, March 14th: Books Like Breathing
Friday, March 16th: Good Girl Gone Redneck
Monday, March 19th: The Englishist
Wednesday, March 21st: Buried in Print
Thursday, March 22nd: Broken Teepee

Thank you very much to TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour.  Always a good read.  Always making me step out of comfort zone and I appreciate it.

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"