Friday, October 24, 2014

Talk To You Later

This weekend I am on a writing retreat, but the blog will be back upon my return! Happy Friday. Here is a picture of my favorite child. :)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Zucchini Bread Recipe

With a chill in the air, it feels like time to make some zucchini bread (your house will smell amazing) and settle in with a good book.

Here's my favorite Zucchini Bread recipe:

Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
1 c. oil
2 c. sugar
2 c. zucchini, grated
3 tsp. vanilla
3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 c. milk

Combine eggs, oil, sugar, zucchini.  Mix.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Bake at 325 degrees for one hour.  Makes two bread loaves.

What's your favorite snack to make while you curl up with a good book?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Word Count Wednesday

I did SO AWESOME this week if I do say so myself.  I got in over 4000 words and got an outline done of my new novel! Yay!

I'm going on my writing retreat this weekend, though, and I'm a tad nervous. What if I can't write all day? What if I sit and look at a blank screen all weekend?  Or what if I go through my writing snacks on the first day and we're in the middle of nowhere with no way to get any more?  So many what ifs.

Have you been to a writing retreat? Any advice?  How did you do this week?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Castle Goes Kindergarten Cop

I loved this week's Castle.  What could be cuter than Castle and little kids?

We start off the show with an ice cream truck weaving in an abandoned warehouse type area and they show the driver, dead, and someone runs out the back.  Seriously, who would kill an ice cream truck driver?

Cut to a dinner scene with the Castle family.  Alexis is hovering over Castle, her and Martha got his favorite ice cream even, potato chip fudge. Ew. He does give a bite to a doubtful Beckett, who actually likes it. It sounds gross to me, though. Alexis and Martha are heading over to do dishes and Beckett is trying to get Castle to see that the hovering isn't healthy.  But the phone rings.

They head down to the murder scene and there aren't a lot of clues to go on, but they do have the murder victim's name---Anton. They question his parents and the mom noticed her son came home from his night class acting upset, so our team goes to question his graphic design teacher. She remembers Anton getting on his computer and getting really upset before he up and left. She saw him later in the parking lot with a guy in a bright green car.  She managed a partial license plate and the boys track it down, but not before the teacher tells them that Anton deleted his entire portfolio.

Ryan also has some evidence that someone was hiding inside the ice cream truck and may be a potential witness.  Since there was a permission slip from Mrs. Ruiz's second grade class the team heads to the school.

Even after questioning, none of the kids will confess to being there, so Castle volunteers to gain their trust and help in the classroom.  Since he's 90 percent kid and all.  He heads down to the classroom, but Mrs. Ruiz isn't having any of his shenanigans.  And when he tries to call her Leslie, she shuts him right down.  It's Mrs. Ruiz.  I really liked her.  She's protective of her kids and doesn't want someone messing with them, no matter who they are.

Castle can respect that.  He says he has a plan and starts by asking the kids if they know any writers.  One kid pipes up that Castle is a writer and another kid says, "My dad says your books suck." Haha. You'd be surprised how many times authors get that. And what should the author say to that? Oh, sorry. It's always so awkward when that happens. Poor Castle.

He does get the kids to write a story and starts looking for clues.  He finds a lead with Jack who wrote about an evil giant threatening to hurt people. Castle heads outside to play soldiers with Jack in the grass.  With some questioning finesse, Castle manages to get it out of Jack that he was watching the scary giant on TV.  And when Castle sits up, his pants are wet and the kids all start pointing that he wet his pants and laugh. It was funny, I have to admit.

Beckett and the boys are running down some traffic cam footage of the green car which belongs to a retired cop named Joffe.  He has a spotless record and they can't figure out what he was doing with Anton. They track the pair to a dead drop post office box and the manager there remembers Anton freaking out when he was told that someone was calling and asking about his post office box. The team finds out that the bodega next door let Anton use the phone and that he called a mob enforcer named Dmitri. The plot thickens.  Of course it thickens further when they go to Dmitri's house and find an overpowering stench because Dmitri's been dead for a few days. Ick.  They find evidence that Dmitri was torturing someone who probably got loose and killed Dmitri.  He had the same two taps to the chest as the other victims.

In another twist, Anton's parents call to tell them that their house was tossed while they were out.  His dad brings in an envelope full of blank passports.  Well, I think we know what Anton was into now, don't we? *shakes head*

Meanwhile, back at school, the kids play keep away with Castle's wallet, and one kid throws marbles all over the floor and Castle falls flat on his back.  All I could think was, he's going to be sore tomorrow.  A little girl gives his wallet back and says bad things happen sometimes, but before she can elaborate, her mom calls her.  Beckett checks her out and finds that her brother was supposed to be watching her, so she could be the witness.

That leads us to the cutest scene ever.  Castle having a princess tea party with Emily.  They're waving wands and creating ice castles and talking about how princesses help each other. It was SO. ADORABLE.  I could totally imagine him as a dad to a little Alexis.  Emily finally does open up to Castle about how Jason bullies her and he says sometimes people are mean because it makes them feel strong.  He advises her to use her inner strength to let it go.  She happily skips outside for the rest of recess and Mrs. Ruiz compliments him on gaining the children's trust---until they hear a child screaming outside.  Jason has a bloody nose and Emily used to "strength" like Castle told her to. Oops.

The principal isn't too happy and Castle has to go.  He's packing up his stuff and saying goodbye to the kids when he sees a picture of an ice cream truck stuffed in his jacket pocket.  He shows it to Beckett and they search the children's desks.  Jason is the culprit.  Of course, he's the one who said his dad thinks Castle's books suck and has been making faces.  Beckett questions him, saying Castle the jerkface thinks Jason's too scared to tell what happened.  Brilliant.  Jason finally says he knows who was in the truck---his sister.

His sister is the graphic design teacher and she's scared.  She admits to being there when Anton was murdered.  They were forging passports to help immigrants get back home after they get here and their papers are confiscated so they can be forced into pretty much slave labor.  (The cop worked Brighton Beach and knew how awful it was for these people so he offered to help.)  Then Anton recognized one of the clients as a guy who is wanted for war crimes and decimated Anton's village in Russia. His name is Polkovnik, but no one has a picture of him and that's when the team realizes that's what the killer is after.  Polkovnik doesn't want anyone to have his picture. Natalie tells them where she hid the picture in her house, but it isn't there.  And Castle realizes it's at the school.  Then we cut to the creepiest scene EVER---Polkovnik is UNDER THE BED listening to them talk about the picture being at the elementary school.  *shiver*

Beckett and Castle find the picture on Jason's desk, but Polkovnik is right behind them and attacks Kate. Castle jumps in to help, but is thrown down and kicked for his trouble.  Castle manages to throw the marbles down, and Polkovnik does just what Castle did and falls to the floor. Kate cuffs him.  Whew.  A little too neatly tied up, but whatever, it was an awesome scene.

Castle brings cupcakes for the kids the next day and Kate gives Mrs. Ruiz a medal of service for putting up with Castle for a couple of days. It was a really cute scene when Mrs. Ruiz tells Kate that sometimes the most difficult kids are the most rewarding.  *sniff*  Jason puts a paper that says Jerkface on Castle's back, but Castle put a paper on Jason's as well that says frog breath. LOL Castle gets a text from Alexis telling him to come straight home. She's even put a tracker app on his phone. He knows it's time to talk to her.

They have a heart to heart about how he felt when she came home from Paris and he didn't want to let her out of his sight.  She understands that she has to let him live his life and not hover, but "being an adult sucks."  Well, at least she seems back to her old self after the debacle with her boyfriend last year.  Yay!

So, all in all, it was an awesome episode for me.  Did you watch? What did you think?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Saint and Soldiers: The Void Giveaway!

Saints and Soldiers: The Void is the third installment in the Saints and Soldiers franchise and was released on DVD October 14th. Have you seen this movie? Or any of the Saints and Soldiers movies? They are heart-wrenching and riveting, but this one is particularly outstanding. If you're not familiar with this movie, you can click here to go to their website for more info and to see the theatrical trailer.

Here's is the plot summary: Germany, May 1945, the twilight of WWII. On a final mission deep in the Harz mountains a U.S. tank crew discovers a platoon of Germans, including three infamous Panzer tanks, preparing to ambush allied supply trucks.

Before the war, Sergeant Jesse Owens, was a product of segregation and racial discrimination. Forced by law to ride in the back of the bus and disenfranchised from the political process. As the Germans bear down on the Americans, Owens fights the Axis powers for a freedom he and his fellow African American soldiers have never felt.

With a deadly game of cat and mouse quickly unfolding, Owens and his predominantly white tank crew find themselves out-gunned and out-manned by the German Panzer tanks. Several in Owens’ crew are reluctant to put their faith in a black tank driver despite their dire circumstances. With tension and fear beginning to manifest Owens knows they must put aside their differences to stop the enemy from their deadly plan. Knowing that a victory over the Nazis means a victory for racial justice, Owens and his men find a way to work together to save hundreds of lives in a desperate battle against the greatest odds they have ever faced.

To celebrate the release I'm going to give away a DVD of Saints and Soldiers: The Void.  All you have to do is tell me in the comments OR on my Facebook fanpage (click here to go to the fan page) what was the last movie you saw that you loved.  The winner will be chosen on Oct. 24.  (Open to residents of the continental U.S. only)

If you can't wait that long, you can buy the DVD here

You can like the Saints and Soldiers' Facebook page here

Follow them on Twitter: @saintsandsoldiersmovies

Or Follow on Instagram: @Saintsandsoldiersmovies

Don't miss this one!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Hawaii Five-O Review: Change of Heart

We start out the episode with Steve going over to Danny's house to find him sitting around looking at the thirteen million dollars he's got spread all over the floor.  Apparently, he's five and a half million dollars short in order to save his brother and doesn't know what to do.  (Here's what I would have suggested, why not do some detective work? Follow the money? Five and a half million dollars is a clue.  Look at banks, deposits, I don't know, try to figure out if Reyes even has Matt!  But, you know, whatever.)  The next day they show Danny going to a loan shark for the five and a half million he needs, but the loan shark turns him down. Chin meets Danny in the parking lot and says he might be able to help.  Poor Chin and his never-ending illegal money stories.  At least he looked good on his motorcycle. He always has that for a fall-back.

Cut to a guy being pulled aside at an airport by some TSA guys.  They take him to a little room and show him that they found the hidden compartment in his luggage that has a gun and a sound silencer.  Which is against the law to have. The guy goes for innocence, "I've never seen that before in my life," but when they tell him they'll detain him, he pulls a Jason Bourne and takes out all five guys. (Although Matt Damon is a lot cuter than this guy, but I digress. Also, those TSA guys had no clue how to use their weapons and were kind of wimpy.  All five of them!)

But our team is on it and quickly figure out that this Jason Bourne wannabe works for one of the original crime families, the Begosa syndicate, and he is a hitman, although his official job is listed as a construction worker. He hasn't been convicted of anything substantial.  Kono tracks him to a mall, where McGrover go to head him off.  Steve wants to go for his gun as soon as they spot him, but Grover reminds him there's a lot of potential collateral damage if they do that, so they watch him.  I really love the dynamic of McGrover. They watch the hitman until he sees a police car pull up, which makes him look around and he easily spots Steve with his earpiece in.  Then he runs.  And this leads to one of the best moves I've seen on Hawaii Five-O yet.  They corner the hitman on the street, but before they can cuff him, he's shot in the chest by another gunman. Steve opens fire and clips the shooter on a parking structure, but the guy gets away in his car.  Super SEAL Steve chases him on foot, and has to HOP UP ON THE HOOD OF A MOVING POLICE CAR to avoid being hit. It. Was. Awesome. Anyway, the shooter gets away. 

Back at HQ they figure out that the shooter also works for the Begosa crime family and the agent they have on the table phone says he is a well-known hitman with over a hundred kills that no one can pin on him. He doesn't take trophies, there's no ego at all, he just kills.  Now everyone is scratching their heads as to why one Begosa hitman would kill another one.  Steve and Grover are discussing it, with Grover throwing out ideas. Grover kind of took over Kono's usual duties this week, and though I was happy that Kono wasn't attached to the table, we barely saw her. Cast balance is something I wish this show did better.  (And did I forget to mention that Jerry was on several times doing surveillance on the bookstore and "helping?" Yeah, I meant to do that.)

Anyway, the shooter's name is Nick Mercer and he kidnaps two EMTs to treat his bullet wound. They sneakily call 911 while they're treating him, but he realizes it and knocks them out.  Stealing the ambulance, he takes off with McGrover in hot pursuit.  The McGrover convo in the car was funny, with Steve not wanting to be criticized for his driving and Grover denying that he was doing any criticizing. It doesn't end up being much of a pursuit, though, because the guy nearly bleeds out at the wheel.  They take him into custody and call for another ambulance. Ironic, as Grover says. Ha!  

During questioning at the hospital, Nick tells the team about how he got a heart transplant two years ago, and his donor heart was from this awesome do-gooder, who taught in a difficult school, volunteered at the soup kitchen, and built houses for homeless people. It changed Nick so that he couldn't pull the trigger on his contracts anymore.  Instead of killing them, he's made his own witness protection program to save them.  Begosa found out and sent a hitman, so that's why Nick took the Jason Bourne wannabe out---so he could keep his people safe.  He won't tell Five-O where the hidden people are.  (And I really thought this guy playing Nick had an expressive face. He did really well telling his story.)  And it was funny when the team is deciding whether to believe this guy and Grover was all, that's a nice campfire story. All we're missing is the marshmallows. Ha!

Kono lets them know that Begosa's plane has taken off and is headed their way.  It's off radar so, you know, that's probably not good for Nick and his hidden people.  (That sounds like the title of a children's story or something. Nick and His Hidden People. Ha!) They go back and tell Nick he has to let them know where the hidden people are, and in order to show that Nick can trust them to keep the people safe, Steve takes his handcuffs off.  Then Nick can go help bring them in!  Who doesn't want a reformed hit man on their team, right?  All I can say is, this guy is a quick healer, since he's recovered enough from massive blood loss and a shoulder wound to go in the field with Five-O.  Not to mention he's a heart transplant survivor.

Begosa's men get off the plane with Begosa, and they are loaded for bear to go to kill Nick's people, but Five-O have set traps and take them all out. Nick gets his confrontation with Begosa, but doesn't kill him and they are both taken away.  The team gets a nice shot of all the people Nick has saved waving to them as they go by in a convoy of trucks. The look on Nick's face was so awesome. Like he'd really come to see them as people and he'd done right by protecting them.  I, however, kept thinking, dang, that's a lot of people living in isolation on an island.

Meanwhile, Chin has gone to Halawa prison to talk to Gabriel and ask him for the five and a half million that Danny needs. Gabriel originally turns him down, but then changes his mind after he gets beaten for being related to Five-O.  Chin gives Danny the money and Danny says a heartfelt thank you before him and Steve head off to Colombia. 

Steve and Danny are carrying some heavy duty duffel bags into this teeny basement with only one light shining down on Reyes. It's creepy and if he's such a rich guy living off drug money, why doesn't he have a better place? Was the eighteen and a half million Matt stole his only income? Has he been searching for it all this time and now he's reduced to living in a shack? Anyway, Reyes' goons check the bags, then Danny demands to see Matt. The goons go back in the darkness to "retrieve" him and Danny is calling out to Mattie until they roll out a steel drum.  Reyes asks if they want him to ship the barrel somewhere and Danny tries to attack him.  Both him and Steve are held by the goons and Danny says to kill him because if he doesn't, Danny will put Reyes in the ground.  Reyes says go back to Hawaii or else he'll go after Grace.  The goons take Danny and Steve upstairs where we hear a struggle and gunfire.  Reyes calls out for his men and one of them rolls down the stairs, dead or at least bloody and unconscious.  Then Danny comes down saying What did I tell you?  He has Reyes backed over the table, a gun to his head, and keeps repeating look at me.  Reyes looks at him and then Danny shoots him in the head.  

Honestly, this disturbs me on so many levels.  First of all, Danny had no proof that his brother was in the steel drum.  He did NO DETECTIVE WORK AT ALL on this case.  Who knows if Reyes even ever had Matt!  Who knows if Matt isn't somewhere in the world right now, thinking of turning himself in. It's just poor writing to have a detective who doesn't even try to verify the facts of any case, brother or not, and it makes Danny look gullible.  It should be second nature, especially to Danny who has been a detective for a long time and has been on an elite task force for four years!

Second of all, I thought it was interesting that the show had a reformed hitman who had caused so much death and destruction having a change of heart and trying to make up for his deeds and juxtaposed this with Danny who has been good and helpful and honorable for the most part, change in the blink of an eye to a murderer.  He shot an unarmed man and made Steve an accomplice to the murder.  Is Danny becoming what he's been fighting against?  I guess we'll see, but this episode's ending was dark and not something I've come to expect from the show. I hate to see Danny brought to this and hopefully the writers can help us see why they are taking this direction for our heroes. 

Did you watch? What did you think?  

Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Freebie & a $250 Giveaway!

Today's Friday Freebie is The Man From Shenandoah Book One of the Owen Family Saga by Marsha Ward.  She is an award-winning western author and I'm excited to read this one.  Here's the back copy:

Young cavalryman Carl Owen returns from the Civil War to find the family farm destroyed, his favorite brother dead, food scarce, and his father determined to leave the Shenandoah Valley to build a cattle empire in Colorado Territory. Crossing the continent, Carl falls in love with his brother's fiancĂ©e while set to wed another girl, but he might lose everything if the murderous thug Berto Acosta has his way. Carl battles a band of outlaws, a prairie fire, blizzards, a trackless waterless desert, and his own brother—all for the hand of feisty Ellen Bates.

"I finished The Man from Shenandoah at half-past midnight because I couldn’t put it down." - Utah Reader

"This is a book to prize, and not only for its gritty realism, exciting action, and compelling characters. The story further engages us by examining the ties that hold family and community together. Not many Westerns do that. Heartily recommended!" - Western Writer's Newsletter

If this one looks interesting to you, you can click here to download your free copy!

And once you are done with that, scroll down for a chance to win $250 Paypal cash!  With Christmas just around the corner, that would be a nice nest egg for your gift-giving budget.

25 fabulous bloggers, authors and publishers have joined to offer you one fabulous prize.

One lucky winner will win $250 in Paypal cash!

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This giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader.

Giveaway Details 

$250 Paypal Cash

Ends 11/15/14

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