Monday, January 16, 2017

Book Review: The Lady of the Lakes

I am really excited to be part of the blog tour for Josi Kilpack's new historical fiction novel, The Lady of the Lakes. It's based on the life of Walter Scott and it was mesmerizing.

As an English teacher, I was already acquainted with much of Walter Scott's work, however, I didn't know a lot about his personal life beyond facts and dates included on a timeline. This book breathes life into the man behind the literature. Ms. Kilpack does make it clear that her book is fictionalized history, that while some things are known facts, other things she embellished to make the story. She does include chapter notes and they add more little gems as to what facts are known and what she imagined to make the story work. I enjoyed seeing a little peek into her research!

We start out with Walter meeting Mina, a woman he knows from the very first is going to be important to him in his life. Their love story from the very beginning had me hooked with all its ups and downs. I love the way Ms. Kilpack used language to draw the reader in and immerse them in the time period so seamlessly. There was never a point where I felt like I was being given a history lesson, yet I walked away knowing a lot more about Scottish history and customs. I loved seeing Walter as he could have been as a young man in love, struggling to deal with proprieties and social customs, when he just wanted to follow his heart. And, while the story didn't go in the direction I thought it would, it was compelling and gave all the reasons why Mr. Scott's poetry resonates with so many people.

The characterization was fantastic and romance readers will love this addition to the Proper Romance line. I think it's one of Ms. Kilpack's best books and it will have a special place on my rainy day go-to shelf.

Here is the back copy:

Walter Scott has three passions: Scotland, poetry, and Mina Stuart. Though she is young and they are from different stations in society, Walter is certain their love is meant to be. For years, he has courted her through love letters. She is the sunshine of his soul.

Though Mina shares Walter’s love of literature and passionate temperament, it’s hard for her to know if she truly loves him or if she has only been dazzled by his flattery. When she meets the handsome and charming William Forbes, her heart is challenged. Who will she choose?

But as every poet knows, “The course of true love never did run smooth,” and on a windy morning in the lake country, Walter meets Charlotte.

At twenty-six, Charlotte Carpenter believes she will never find love. After all, she is a Catholic-born Frenchwoman living in London with a family history shadowed by scandal. Though quiet, practical, and determined to live a life of independence, her heart longs for someone to love her and a place to call home.

Passion and promises collide as Walter, Mina, and Charlotte must each decide the course for their futures. What are they each willing to risk to find love and be loved in return?

You can download your Kindle copy here

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Hawaii Five-O Review: Some Random Filler & A Quick Murder Case Before We Say Goodbye To Max

We are saying goodbye to Max this week, but since we couldn't do an entire Max-centric episode, the show gave us random filler scenes and a quickly wrapped up murder case for our entertainment, before we were all crying our eyes out over Max's departure.

Last week, the team found out Chin's location and rescued him from a bunch of rookie cartel members before the opening music. This week, we have Grover lecturing McG about how to dunk malasadas in his coffee. It was long and rambly and sort of weird. (Yeah, definitely random filler scene #1 before we say goodbye to Max.) McG politely listens and they head into the police station. Duke is telling everyone to be prepared for the police expo with extra patrols and calling on H50 resources if necessary. The expo is like spring break for cops and last year they painted a goat and ran down the street nude. I bet McG is really hoping Duke doesn't have to call him or his team in. Could you imagine Danny or Steve chasing down the streakers? Book that, Danno!

Later that night, (it's dark now) Danny is playing Pie Face with Charlie and he keeps losing. Whip cream in the face! But Charlie is so cute (and sort of looks like his TV dad!) and my heart melted a little. There's an explosion rattling the walls and Danny goes to look out the door. There's a fireball in the middle of town! I hope it's not Jared the Terrorist's uranium.

Max is down in his office moving his piano when Jerry comes in to help. According to Max's calculations, the rest of his belongings will fit in the last seven boxes. *sniff* I'm going to miss his personality. Jerry is noisy, popping bubble wrap and asking questions. He finds a box of Max's journals and Max gives him permission to read them if he'll be quiet.

The next day (it's light now) Danny and Steve are down at the blown up building in some very fine blue shirts. Chin is giving them an update on scene about how dogs looking for survivors found a body. (He also reassures them it's not Jared the Terrorist's uranium.) The dead body is down in a hole, so Danny and Steve climb down to look. The guy was stabbed with a knife and he's a cop from Milwaukee. Steve is half-listening and looking around with his flashlight as he sees tracks leading to a safe. (Thankfully, Danny's claustrophobia is okay while they're underneath a half-collapsed building in a dark hole with a dead guy.)

The boys come up from the dusty, dirty hole in the ground and their blue shirts are still nearly spotless! All the better to accentuate their eyes and McDanno matchiness. Chin is giving them another update (they usually make Kono do that from the office table, so this is a nice change. Chin can update me anytime!) and they found drilling equipment that hit a gas main causing the explosion. Our boys spec that after they hit the gas main, the heist people came back the next day to grab whatever was in the safe. Smart cookies, our boys. The lawyer whose firm owns the safe says he has no idea what might have been taken.

And now, time for another random filler scene before we say goodbye to Max: Grover sees Frank Bama bring a surfboard to the office. McG offered him his couch so he could escape a wannabe warlord. He also overheard McG talking about missing uranium, but Grover tells him that's a secret. Chin was blabbing about it at the wrecked building, too, so our team needs to work on keeping their voices down when they have a secret, I guess.

Jerry is reading in Max's journals when McG was a fugitive from prison and had come to Max after he got shanked. I love the little flashbacks. Max says he saw Steve as a colleague, but Steve saw him as a friend and trusted him. *sniffle* They also see the Milwaukee cop's body being brought in and Max says this will be his last post-mortem. *sad face*

And all too soon, it's time for another random filler scene.  Hirsch the Crime Scene Cleaner is at the expo hawking franchises of Crime Clean. Steve and Kono come in and Hirsch tries to claim them as colleagues, but Kono shuts him down right away. They ask him about his buddy named G. Stealth who has footage of the crime scene they need. He says he took the guy home once and can take them to his house, but they wander around until Steve says there'll be a crime scene cleanup in the truck if they don't find the house soon. Hirsch takes that threat seriously and finds the house immediately afterward. G. Stealth has some trespassing warrants out, but nothing serious. Yet, Steve and Kono just bust down the guy's door (the one-footed breach pose from McG, though!) and go in guns drawn. Hey we need your video so we're coming in! Immunity and means, sucka!

Stealthy isn't very smart (I guess his name should have been my first clue) and tries to run by going out the window. (Running from Five-O generally never works out well, and criminals should all be aware of that, I think. Like, put it in the criminal/people with warrants handbook or something. Rule #5 Don't run from Five-O. It's pointless.) Hirsch sees him and honks the horn, presumably to alert Steve, but Stealthy comes over and gets in the car with a gun trained on him! Okay, Stealthy is as dumb as I thought, especially for a stringer. He has a job helping his newspaper report on events, and now he's waving a gun around and running from Five-O? Kiss that job goodbye. Unless he has a very understanding boss I guess. Gun-happy Stealthy tells Hirsch to drive away and Steve and Kono watch as he drives into a parked car and sets off the airbags. But, never fear, after all that silliness, the team gets the footage. And guess what? The footage shows a car leaving the wrecked building and they get the plate and head over to that guy's house. Jimmy Roark is his name and he's been pinched for Grand Theft and B&E. (It sounds so British and formal. Pinched. Jimmy Roark was pinched again! Jimmy the Pinched.) Well at Jimmy's house there's a van with a dead guy in the garage. Chin draws the short straw and has to search the dead guy for ID. No dice.

Jerry is now to the part in the journal where Max got Sabrina's number. I loved that ep. So cute! And they make a cute couple. He remembers that Kono told him to go for it and Jerry says he owes Kono big time.

Time for another Chin update! There were TWO overalls in the garbage! So Jimmy the Pinched has two accomplices! Luckily the dead guy in the van had prints that are in the system since he used to clerk for a federal judge and works for Hadley, the law firm that owned the safe! Dead guy's name was Leo and his phone records show he talked to Hadley quite a bit that day. Uh oh. Danny and Steve go talk to him, but Hadley ain't talking. Attorney/client privilege, you know. Steve says he's obstructing justice then, and utters the words, "book 'em Danno." Haven't heard that for a while!

Jerry is still mesmerized by the journals and asks Max why he sold his fossil collection and DS9 action figures. It was to get his yellow Camaro. He looked up to Danny as he sacrificed to be near his daughter and gave part of his liver to Steve, and so since Danny had a Camaro, Max got one, too. It was a sweet ride, for sure.

The team finds out the blackmail guy is named Gabler because he withdrew two million dollars today. Gabler had been tried for stabbing his girlfriend to death but got off due to a mistrial. Steve specs that the knife that was used in the murder was in the safe, the Milwaukee cop saw them with it, so they stabbed him, and now they're blackmailing Gabler. Kono says that's far-fetched, (silly Steve!) but of course Steve is dead on. They go talk to the lawyer in the Blue Room of Doom and Steve says that even though Hadley tried to stymie their investigation, they figured it out. (I love when our boys use words that stretch vocabulary norms. I haven't heard the word stymie in ages! Like pinched! Is there an English teacher on the writing staff perhaps?) But, so much for attorney/client privilege. Hadley caves and confirms everything. Gabler has gone to pay the two mil in his lawyer's car, but luckily that has GPS!

But guess what? Leo (the dead guy from the van) also emailed the brother of the murdered girlfriend (Alan) and he's on the island. Uh oh. They all head to the meet. Jimmy the Pinched is there getting the duffel bag of money from Gabler and he throws the knife down in front of him. (Are you all still with me? It's getting confusing, I know.) Alan shows up and he has a gun AND the knife now. Jimmy the Pinched drives away and the brother approaches Gabler. He looks pretty upset and tells Gabler to kneel down. Gabler is fairly calm, overall. Just wide-eyed. (I wonder what he was thinking? Wet sand is seeping through my pant leg? I wish I'd had a better lawyer?) Anyway, Steve is on his way to stop Alan and tells Chin to take on Jimmy the Pinched. Chin heads him off and Jimmy is a terrible driver and crashes. Chin approaches with his gun and asks to see his hands, but dumb Jimmy the Pinched reaches for a gun and Chin shoots him. And now poor Jimmy the Pinched will never pinch again.

Steve and Danny spend a few minutes talking down Alan from killing Gabler and they take them into custody. Sort of anti-climactic to say the least.

But now we are to Max's goodbye party. Flippa is playing some awesome music, but Steve tells Danny he doesn't have to dance with him. (Just not in the mood to see Danny dance, I guess, since he dances with Max later on.) Hirsch gives a drunk toast, (who invited him?) but finally sits down so we can get to the good stuff. Max's speech was so sweet. He thanks Kamekona for hosting and tells the team they can still call him for consults. But then he talks to his "adopted family." He reminds them he was an only child, but thought of Steve as an older brother. Danno was his role model. Chin knows ohana better than anyone and will be a great father for Sara. Kono has such a loving relationship with Adam, Max and Sabrina want to emulate that. (And where is Sabrina? Home packing? Or Adam for that matter. Confined to the house? It's not like he has anything better to do.) Max will miss Grover's smile and gets Grover all choked up when Max says Hawaii has claimed Grover as one of her sons. He also thanks Jerry for being his friend. He ends by telling them he loves them. *wipes tears* Then they cut to the montage of all the great Max scenes of Halloween costumes and fun times they've had with him combined with their goodbye hugs while there's a soulful 'all good things come to an end' sung in the background. Yeah, I cried. I'm going to miss Max and all his quirkiness!

Next week has Lou Diamond Phillips guest-starring and going toe-to-toe with McG. Looks good to me!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Freebie Friday

Today's Freebie Friday is a romance by Jennifer Peel, called Christopher and Jaime. It's part of her Pianos and Promises series and it sounds good!

Here's the back copy:

Jaime Seger has two goals in life: marry her best friend, the man that owns her heart and soul, and buy her very own grand piano. But Christopher McKay, who has no idea Jaime's been in love with him since she was eleven years old, never gets the memo and marries someone else.

When Christopher's wife dies, Jamie finds herself helping him raise his young daughter. A year later, she is on the other end of a very unlikely proposal, promising everything she thought she ever wanted.

But will Christopher help Jaime finally realize both of her dreams, or will she only be left with broken promises?

You can download your free Kindle copy here

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Surprising Thing That Happened At The Dentist Today

photo credit: ruei_ke Polish via photopin (license)

I had to go to the dentist today to get a filling. I generally dislike going to the dentist because I'm not a big fan of pain and I knew I would have to get needles to numb my tooth before the filling. So, I'm sitting in the chair and the nurse puts that little bib on me, and I'm a little nervous. She asks me if I'd like to lay back until the dentist comes so I can watch the TV in the ceiling, or stay sitting. I opted to stay sitting.

She left and when she came back I was surprised that she put a pillow under my head. I didn't think you could make a dentist chair comfortable at all, but it seriously was one of the best pillows I've had, (and I've never had one offered at the dentist office!) She also said there was a blanket I could use if I was cold. (And aren't dentist offices always cold? I think so.) But, honestly, that was one of the softest blankets I've ever touched. I don't know what it was made of, but I wanted to cuddle with it and take it home, I'll tell you that. (They actually gave me one. I might want to take it with me everywhere I go.)

So, now that I'm all nice and comfy IN A DENTIST CHAIR, they numb my tooth and I get my filling. It went pretty fast, really, and I was thinking we were all done, but the nurse came back with a hot washcloth infused with essential oils to put on my face. It was heavenly, like I was at a spa or something. Then, she finished out by giving me a new tube of Chapstick.

I walked away feeling amazing. (Well, as amazing as you can feel with a numb face, you know?) I've just never been pampered like that at a dentist office before and I think I like it! (Not that I would start visiting my dentist any more than I have to, but it made today a lot better.)

Does your dentist do anything like that?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What I'm Reading Wednesday

This week, I've been reading a cute small town romance called, Harvest Blessings by Christina Lorenzen. So far, our heroine Tacy and our hero Brody are wary of each other (since Brody tricked Tacy into coming home from New York) and they both have a lot of emotional baggage going on, but there's a sweet old aunt and an adorable little girl to help get these crazy kids on the road to love.

Here's the back copy:

Professional musician Tacy Clark hasn’t been back home to Hill Top Orchards since the death of her beloved Uncle Jerry. When she gets an email from her aunt, the guilt she’s been feeling since her uncle’s death forces her to make the trip back home.. When her car breaks down, a ride from her aunt’s neighbor, Brody Porter, is the beginning of a roller coaster of emotions, as Tacy is forced to deal with guilt and the pain of never having known her mother. Intending to stay only as long as it takes to harvest the apples for the annual festival and be free from guilt, Tacy is determined not to get involved with Brody Porter and his little girl Cami.

Brody Porter was burned by his estranged wife, Carrie Ann, a struggling actress, who came into his life during a lull in her career and then left him alone to raise their daughter, four year old Cami. He’s vowed never to play the knight in shining armor again. His only interest in Tacy Clark is making sure she gets those apples harvested for the town's annual festival. Without that harvest, the festival might not raise enough funds for the church preschool. Without a place for Cami to go every day he won't be able to put the time he needs into his livelihood, his coffee shop, Brews & Bites.

Tacy Clark and Brody Porter are both determined to get what they want and go their own ways. Will the sweet scent of apples and a harvest moon soften the hearts of two people who need each other more than they know?

If it sounds good to you, download your Kindle copy here

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Calling All Romantic Comedy Lovers!

One of my favorite romantic comedy series, The Spinster Series, by Becky Monson has the first two books available for only .99 cents each and the last one is being offered for free today. Of course I had to share all this reading goodness with you!

The first book, Thirty-Two Going On Spinster, made me laugh out loud with some of the situations Julia found herself in. And our hero, Jared is swoon-worthy.

Here's the back copy:

Julia Dorning is a spinster, or at least on the road to becoming one. She has no social life, hates her career, and lives in her parent’s basement with her cat, Charlie.

With the arrival of Jared Moody, the new hire at work, Julia’s mundane life is suddenly turned upside down. Her instant (and totally ridiculous) crush on the new guy causes Julia to finally make some long-overdue changes, in hopes to find a life that includes more than baking and hanging out with Charlie.

But when the biggest and most unexpected change comes, will the new and improved Julia be able to overcome it? Or will she go back to her spinster ways?

You can download your Kindle copy here for only .99 cents!

The second book in the series, Thirty-Three Going On Girlfriend, continues with Julia's story as she moves into the uncharted world of being a girlfriend.

Here's the back copy:

Julia Dorning thought she would die a lonely spinster. That was until nine months ago, when her world was turned upside down. Now she’s got a dream career as a bakery owner, and a relationship with handsome Jared Moody—a life she never thought possible.

Just as she’s starting to feel comfortable in her new life, Julia is invited to battle it out on national television making cupcakes. An amazing opportunity, if she can muster up the confidence to do it, that is. Then, out of the blue, Jared goes and throws a rather large wrench in their relationship causing Julia to have to make some big decisions. With her two trusted confidants off in wedding la la land, Julia is on her own to figure everything out.

Left to her own devices, will Julia be able to work things out for herself? Or will she make a disaster of it all? Find out in Becky Monson’s sequel to Thirty-Two Going on Spinster!

You can download your Kindle copy here for only .99 cents!

The last book in the series, Thirty-Four Going On Bride, is FREE TODAY! And I bet you can guess what it's about!

Here's the back copy:

Julia Dorning is about to lose it. Between her over-the-top wedding that her sister, Anna, took upon herself to create, and the under-staffed popular bakery that she runs, she can barely find time to breathe.

All Julia ever wanted was a quaint wedding on the beach with family and friends. But now Julia has to contend with not only her sister's plans, but those of her future mother-in-law, as well. Not wanting to step on anyone's toes, especially her mother-in-law's, Julia just goes along with it.

She can only take so much, though, and when her newest employee, Kate, makes things harder at the bakery, Julia has to find a way to simplify her life.

Can she do it or will she end up a basket case? Find out how she does it in this hilarious conclusion to the Spinster series!

You can download your free Kindle copy here

Monday, January 9, 2017

Book Review and $25 Giveaway!

Today, I'm happy to be part of the Book Tour for Anita Stansfield's new book, Color of Love. This book deals with society's prejudice in the 1850s and the repercussions it had on a young woman's life and family.

The book introduces us to Amala, a young Indian girl, who is sitting at a ball trying not to look bored. She is loved and accepted by her white adopted family, but society generally ignores her. A young man named Henry Beckenridge, who has just returned from nine years abroad in India, sits with her and tries to engage her in conversation several times. Amala wants to talk to him, but is worried about what people will say if they see him talking to her. She doesn't want to hurt his standing or reputation because she knows well how cruel society can be.

Henry is determined to be part of Amala's life. The more he is around her, the more sure he is that she was meant to be in his life. Amala doggedly points out all that will be against them if they did court and marry. Interracial marriages are frowned upon. The children will be ostracized. But Henry feels they can face those things together. Amala finally relents, but before their courtship can go further, society's cruelty rears its ugly head and Amala must deal with a broken heart. Using a relative's kind offer to travel, Amala goes abroad, thinking that distance might help. But when a brief letter calls her home, she's unprepared for what has happened in her absence. Can Amala live with the consequences of her actions?

I really enjoyed the author's vivid descriptions of India and Britain, with their stark opposites and yet some similarities as well. Henry's love for the country while still seeing the struggles was admirable and gave him a lot more depth as a character. I also liked the secondary character of Emmett that gave our heroine (and hero) someone to confide in. Amala was an intriguing, emotional heroine who at times seemed naive, yet at others, too wise for her years. With her young age some of her more impulsive decisions could be forgiven, but her reactions to the events that took place during her extended absence were surprising, to say the least. It was a long, emotional, and drawn out love story that takes the reader on a roller-coaster of feelings as the storyline unfolds. This is a book that will raise eyebrows, make you grab a tissue, and make you want to shake some sense into the characters. But readers will definitely come away with more of a sense of how India and its people were viewed by British society at that point in history, and grateful that fiction stories like Color of Love show a happy ending since, in reality, most people with similar issues in that time period did not get that.

(Don't forget to scroll all the way down and enter the giveaway!)

Here's the back copy:

England, 1857

The British aristocracy is an inflexible judge. And for Amala, a lovely young Indian woman, that judgment is most keenly felt. Raised from a child by the wealthy Hepworth family following the murder of her parents, Amala grew up alongside the Hepworth’s own daughter, Katarina, and was loved as both sister and daughter. The family is part of the charmed circle of the upper class, but Amala’s place in society is tenuous. As an Indian woman, her life is marked by a sense of otherness and voices of prejudice. So when she embarks upon a sweet acquaintance with Henry Breckenridge, a white Englishman, Amala is both elated and terrified. She knows first-hand the opposition that an interracial couple would face, and courtship with Henry could destroy his standing in society.

Determined to spare the reputations of both Henry and her sister Katarina, Amala flees England with the hope that an extended trip will allow her time to heal her broken heart. But she never imagined the repercussions of that decision, and the heartbreak awaiting her. For when she returns to England, she finds those she holds dear facing unparalleled devastation. And now it is her love that holds the key to healing a broken family . . .

Book Tour Stops:
*Jan. 9th:,,
*Jan. 10th:
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*Jan. 13th:,,