Monday, May 22, 2017

Hawaii Five-O Recap & Review--The Season Finale

Yes, I know it's been ten days since the finale aired. I was under some deadlines and my son got engaged so things have been crazy at my house! But now that I'm coming up for air, let's review what happened to the team on the last episode.

We get a quick recap of the sex trafficking episode (you can read my recap/review of it here) and then we see a room full of girls sleeping on the floor, being forced to get up and get into a semi-truck with Pukelani Pineapple on the side, driven by a really cranky man. Viewers are given a little time stamp that it's 5:43 a.m.

But then we go back to fourteen hours earlier when Danny is bringing Charlie to work and showing him his office. He also shows him Steve's office which is in the corner, like a "time out." Charlie says Steve is a bad boy and Danny agrees that he's the worst. (Danny's negativity is really starting to grate. Sigh.) Charlie is given an "area" on the floor to play in (are there boundaries for this area? That was odd to me.) Steve comes in with a gift for Danny, but after finding out Charlie is there so Rachel can go to the divorce lawyer meeting, he gets down on the floor to play with the little boy. He announces he's hungry and Steve offers to take him to the vending machine, but Danny objects. There's nothing nutritious there! Steve says he eats there three times a week. (I sort of loved that he allows himself cheat days. Haha.) He also mentions that Snickers must be healthy because there are nuts in them. (I agree!) Charlie and Steve head for the vending machine with the conversation topic being why Danny is a poopy head. (I'm starting to think whoever wrote this scene was working out their small child/family issues onscreen. Oy!)

But then we cut to Chibby getting it on at Chin's house since Sara won't be back for hours. Abby says he could come back to HPD and he says she could come back to H50. Both of those are terrible ideas

Kono is at the store with Sara getting party supplies for Jerry's "Yay I got a badge" party. Kono lets Sara ride the cart to simulate surfing? I don't know, it was weird. (But then again, they're wasting screen time getting napkins and plates.) Kono leaves Sara unattended to grab a pregnancy test. (I mean, the girl's only been kidnapped by cartel members recently, but hey, whatever. With how many kidnappings Kono has worked, you'd think she'd be more aware than that.) Anyway, Sara put a bunch of candy in the cart that shouldn't be there. Yawn. (Cute kid, but this scene was too long when all we needed to know was Kono needed a pregnancy test.) Thankfully, Moani calls Kono and she heads over to meet her. (I guess that means she's ditching Sara. Somebody better tell Chin and Abby! haha)

Kono is walking with Moani, complimenting her dress, talking about her artwork, and Moani is asking whether Emilio has said anything. He hasn't. So Moani pulls out a picture of someone who worked with Emilio. It's the pineapple truck guy!

Danny is refusing to open McG's gift because he thinks it's a gag gift. *rolls eyes* McG asks why he tries to be nice and I agree. Why is he nice? Kono knocks on the door. They got info on PineappleGuy! His name is Deon Miller and he was popped for assault, also owns a private trucking company. They're going to go to his house, and McG says it's got to be surgical. (My thought at this point was, all right, we'll finally get some action!)

They break in, guns drawn, but all they find is a messy house, a lot of mattresses on the floor, and a doll. The coffeemaker goes off, since it's 6:29 a.m. (They were 45 minutes too late! Sad.) Kono stares at the doll. (Wouldn't the episode have taken a different turn if the doll's head had started spinning or something? Ha!) Grover wants to know how they knew Five-O was coming? (They never really tell us the answer to that either. Just spidey senses I guess.)

Kono is looking angry in the car, says she can feel the girls' pain, fear and trauma in the room. Grover tries to comfort her and talks about how his daughter was accepted to Northwestern, but the thought of sending her to the place where all the cops hate him and there are monsters out there is hard. Can't separate job from being a parent. (I didn't really find that comforting at all). He does say Kono is right where she needs to be. (I disagree. She's too emotionally invested and that clouds your judgment. With her job, you can't let that happen.)

Jerry got a hit on PineappleDeon's truck. It's on the H1, so they call Duke to get a helicopter in the air who can give them thermal confirmation. There's one person in the cab, eleven in the bed. And they also monitor PineappleDeon's communications to see who he's talking to. The HPD get a roadblock together, but with the way it's set up against a semi-trailer? I can already see it won't work. Abby poses in her tight pants and high heels, holding her badge out to PineappleDeon, but he just smashes through it all. Abby jumps to the side and doesn't appear hurt, but appearances are deceiving! Chin rushes over, worried about her and she has a scrape on her arm! (Even though she was wearing long sleeves that didn't appear to be ripped, but oh well. Chin was cute to be worried.) He wants her to go to the hospital for it, but she declines and they go after PineappleDeon.

Danny and Steve are behind PineappleDeon's truck, (with the two or three other police cars that weren't smashed in the roadblock),and Danny is being negative and sarcastic, wondering where PineappleDeon is going to go since he's on an island. Steve finally has had enough and tells him that he knows he's stressed out about Rachel, but maybe tone it down. That gets Danny, who protests that he's just helping Rachel with the kids and comes over to put Charlie to bed sometimes and they talk. (Sounds cozy to me!) Steve laughs about "talking" with the ex-wife and says Danny is like a ten year old with a crush who's happy about the divorce because then he'll have a shot to make things right with Rachel. Steve wants him to admit it and says, "by the way, I get it." (What does he get exactly? Wanting a shot to make things right with an ex? Hmmm)

Jerry gets PineappleDeon's number and Steve calls to threaten him that if he doesn't pull over Steve is personally going to throw him in prison, etc. PineappleDeon is not impressed and just growls into the phone that he'll just go over the cliff. (I mean, PineappleDeon has been up since 5:30 a.m. and didn't get his coffee, it's no wonder he's grumpy.) I know you will be shocked, but Danny criticizes Steve for being too aggressive, that people don't like to be threatened, and Steve asks if he's the perp-whisperer now. He also tells Danny that he doesn't know the one about catching more flies with honey, but he does know the one if you don't have anything nice and positive to say, keep your hole shut. Can his next gift for Danny be to have this framed and put on Danny's office wall? Please? (And is this the show's way of addressing Danny's issue?)

Jerry is our info-dumper this ep and interrupts with the details that PineappleDeon has 300 gallons of fuel and gets five miles to the gallon so he could drive around for days. (Unless he has to pee. Or, sleep.) Can't do spike strips in case the semi goes out of control, so Steve orders everyone back to the palace for his new plan. (And almost takes out an HPD car while turning around.)

Steve's plan is so complicated for the team to understand, that he has to get Charlie's toys to explain it to them. (Talk in small words and very slowly, Steve.) The team will force the semi into some tunnel. Steve will jump onto the truck from the overpass, the driver won't know anything is going on, and the girls will be rescued. That's the plan. No one is thrilled with his plan, (obviously it's dangerous) but of course no one has any other ideas. Danny is quiet and I think maybe he'll offer some support this time, but no, he just waits until Steve is getting ready in his office to come in and spread more negativity around. Ugh. He asks if Steve is whacked out of his head? But again, Steve asks for a better idea. Nope. Danny is distracted for a moment and asks why Steve is still taking pills, and Steve dodges the question asking if Danny has something better to do. (Please have something better to do.) Danny gets in one more dig and says he was trying to put off watching Steve commit suicide. (Honestly, Danny is so off-putting and negative now. I really enjoyed the McDanno banter in early seasons, but this is just painful to watch. It's not banter. It's just bad.)

Per plan, the team forces the truck to the tunnel, Steve is getting to the ledge, making sure the cell phone signal is jammed so PineappleDeon can't see what's going on. Danny gets on comms to tell Steve if he dies today he's okay with it. (Seriously? Not cool.) Steve asks if he could tell him good luck and Danny says there isn't any luck, that luck would be Steve is paralyzed instead of dead. (I have no words at this point). Steve tells him the gift he bought him is a chef's hat with his name on it, so he can use it for Steve's. (Awww. He's a good friend.) Danny says his restaurant won't be named Steve's and Steve will be there to see that because he's not dying today. He says he's only negative because he wanted to talk Steve out of it. (Okay, really? Not an excuse. At all.) PineappleDeon is in the tunnel now, so Danny wishes him good luck. Finally.

Steve jumps (amazing stunt work!), makes it, and starts cutting a hole in the ceiling. But there's a shooter inside! Thankfully he's a terrible shot, (as are all terrorists/cartel members on this show), but now Steve is hanging off the side of the truck! He climbs back on (no problem for this guy, since his spidey-climbing abilities were revealed last week) and jumps down into the truck.He fights with the shooter and takes a few shots before he throws the shooter out the back. (Where the police nearly run him over.)

Chin is coming up fast behind PineappleDeon on a horizontal fireladder type contraption. Danny is driving close enough that Steve can open the semi-door and offload some of the girls. Sadly, the truck moves into protected airspace and the cell signal is back so the news is streaming. And they're showing the rescue. (Anyone reminded of the movie Speed at this point? I loved Keanu in that role.) PineappleDeon sees the rescue and speeds up. Steve closes the door with the other five girls still unrescued.

Danny asks him if he has any more bad ideas (not that Danny has any ideas at all, but whatever) and Steve tells him he's going to uncouple the trailer. I was not shocked when Danny says that's a stupid idea, but Steve has to do something. (Danny does thank him for the hat. So there's that, I guess.) Steve tells the girls he's going to get them out and to huddle close together. He miraculously jumps up to the hole in the ceiling (I have no idea how, it looked pretty high) and drops down to uncouple the trailer. He stays with the cab while the trailer careens right into a convenient hill without tipping over. PineappleDeon jumps out and is confronted by Steve, who promptly shoots him when PineappleDeon rashly raises his gun in Steve's direction. Steve runs to the girls, everyone is okay, Danny and the team arrive in time for cleanup duty as always. Danny calls him insane and Steve says that hurts his feelings, he feels labeled. Danny insists he's not trying to hurt his feelings, the last thing on earth he wants is to hurt Steve's feelings. (Uh huh. Sure.) Steve says it's his tone and how he says it, but they agree to a reset. (Can we all get a reset to a few seasons ago when Danny had a balance of negative/positive, so we didn't cringe so badly at what comes out of his mouth? Please.)

Back to the Chatting Table where they all talk about how they got PineappleDeon's burner phone and they traced his destination through a text to a chartered plane headed to Carson City. They don't know who sent the text, but PineappleDeon's contacts are all over the country. Steve will pass on their intel to law enforcement in those areas and hope they follow up. Kono is all angry/mopey/anxious, wondering if it will make a dent since the girls are constantly moved and departments don't have resources. Steve points out ten girls went back to their parents today. (Focus on the win, Kono!) She still looks upset, though, as everyone sort of just walks away.

Cut to the party for Jerry at Steve's. They even have a large poster with him holding his badge. (What do they do with that after the party? Hang it in his office?) Charlie needs to use the bathroom and Steve comes out looking sick. He confides to Danny that he actually has radiation poisoning from that dirty bomb a couple of months back and he's taking pills for that. There will be side effects down the road, but he's fine today. Danny stands there in his chef hat, looking concerned. (Flashback to last season when Steve needed a new liver. I'm disappointed they couldn't have thought of something more original than making the lead sick again, you know?)

Anyway, Chin calls Kono, but she doesn't answer. She's on a plane headed to Carson City. To do what, we're not sure, and she obviously hasn't told anyone. Oh, and she might be pregnant, so it seems unwise to go rogue right now, but whatever. She's got a very eye of the tiger look on her face and that's how the season ends!

For me, I wish this episode would have followed up with the government conspiracy teased from the last episode. This felt a bit out of sequence. There was a great stunt, though, jumping down onto the semi-trailer, that will make this episode memorable.

This season went by so quickly. Did you watch the finale? What did you think? Any predictions for next season?

Friday, May 19, 2017

Freebie Friday

Today's Freebie Friday is a western romance by Liz Isaacson called, The Seventh Sergeant. I've enjoyed her books and am looking forward to this one!

You can download your free Kindle copy here

Here's the back copy:

Can a devastating injury actually be a blessing for Reese and Carly?

Life has finally started to settle down for Sergeant Reese Sanders after his devastating injury overseas. Discharged from the Army and now with a good job at Courage Reins, an equine therapy center at Three Rivers Ranch, he’s finally found happiness. Then down-on-her luck Carly Watters becomes his veteran care coordinator and wants to assist him with tasks he most definitely doesn’t need her help with—until a horrific fall puts him right back where he was years ago: Injured and depressed.

Carly dislikes small towns almost as much as she loathes cowboys. But she finds herself faced with both when she gets assigned to Reese's case. Because of his injury, she moves to Three Rivers to help him full-time, and her unhappiness follows her around like a dark cloud.

Reese will need to let go of his embarrassment and pride to allow Carly to help him—and love him. And Carly will have to admit that living in small-town Three Rivers is actually a blessing—because it led her to Reese. Do they have the humility and faith to make their relationship more than professional?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Romance Deal Today!

I just noticed Traci Hunter Abramson's romance, Chances Are, is on sale today for only .99 cents! I've never seen her books offered for such a low price, so I thought I'd pass the deal along.

You can download your Kindle copy here

Here's the back copy:

Maya Gupta is a survivor. After escaping an impending arranged marriage in India as a teenager, she has thrived in America. But now she faces her greatest challenge yet—cancer has invaded her life, and unless she finds a way to participate in a clinical trial in Washington, DC, this may be one battle she loses. When Maya’s best friend Kari offers Maya the lifeline of a place to stay—her brother’s currently vacant DC apartment—the young woman eagerly accepts and goes to meet her fate . . . 

Ben Evans’s plans have changed, and he’s heading home for some much-needed rest and relaxation during his off-season in the major leagues. Upon arriving at his DC apartment, however, Ben is shocked to find Maya—his sister’s friend, who he hardly knows—in residence. He soon finds himself trapped between protecting his above-reproach reputation and searching for a way to help a woman he is coming to admire. When Maya’s fight to survive her disease becomes more complicated than ever, she and Ben scheme an extreme solution to her predicament that tests to what lengths they’re willing to go together to save Maya’s life.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Second Chapter of The Capture

Everything is on track for my new novel, The Capture, to be released at the end of the month. I've worked so hard on this one and am excited to have you read it! I thought it might be fun to give you a sneak peek into the second chapter. Tell me what you think!

(You can read the FIRST chapter here)

The Capture
by Julie Coulter Bellon
Copyright 2017
All Rights Reserved
Chapter Two

Julian sat at the makeshift command center at the now deserted Bastion Air Base. Not long ago, thousands of British soldiers had made this their base of operations, but now it was more like a ghost town, except for the team Julian had brought in. They were all holding their breath as they listened to the rescue team’s radio transmissions. Augie, their computer tech, sat next to him chewing on his thumbnail and glancing nervously at Julian every few seconds. He knew better than to talk to him right now. Julian’s heart was in his throat. He wanted to be there in that prison, rescuing Zaya himself, but knew he was too close emotionally. Letting himself near the people who had taken her would not be a good idea. And he couldn’t risk anything that would blow the mission to get her back.
The radio was pressed to his ear, though, and he strained for any information about her condition. She’d been gone six months and eighteen days. Vanished as if she’d never existed. Nazer had taunted him with the knowledge that he was holding her captive, and if Julian and his task force didn’t back off, he’d send Julian the footage of Zaya being murdered in a horrific way. Even with that threat, Julian had done everything he could to find her and, at the same time, try to stop Nazer from hurting anyone else. But every time Julian got close to finally bringing him down, the more he worried that Zaya would pay for this cat and mouse game with her life.
In the end, it was the money trail that led them to her. Julian followed all Nazer’s accounts himself, meticulously picking through the transactions to shell corporations and known government officials. But when they’d found a financial rabbit hole that finally linked a large payment to Saif Taraki, Nazer’s known enforcer, it had been easy to find his whereabouts and follow him to the makeshift prison in Musa Qala, Afghanistan. It was a desolate desert area, mostly populated by native Pashtun tribes, which made it harder to run covert ops, but Griffin Force had managed to get it done. When the intel came in that a female prisoner was being held there, Julian had the first glimmer of hope that they might have located Zaya.
His stomach clenched as the transmission crackled over his radio. The only words he wanted to hear were “the package is secure.” But it was too soon for that. It was too soon to hear anything. Something must be wrong. “Heading for the exit point. Coming under fire,” Jake’s voice said, his breath coming in huffs. “Make sure Bones is waiting for us.”
Bones. That was their nickname for medic Elliott Burke. Zaya’s injuries must be bad. The thought squeezed Julian’s chest until he couldn’t breathe. Part of him had expected as much, but he’d held out hope that Nazer wouldn’t hurt her, that she was merely a bargaining chip. He should have known better. Nazer al-Raimi and his men had no problems at all hurting anyone who got in their way.
“Sir, can I get you something?” Augie asked tentatively, his fingers paused over his keyboard.
“No.” Julian paced the small room, needing to burn off his anxiety. He hated feeling helpless. The months he’d spent searching for Zaya had been the worst of his life. He’d stopped sleeping for any length of time, reduced to closing his eyes for power naps when his body finally succumbed to exhaustion. But, no matter how long he closed his eyes for, the nightmares were always there– Julian running after her, hearing her scream his name, but never being able to catch up, to save her. It got to be too much, so he’d just lived on black coffee to stay awake as much as possible and prayed to find her.
Even with that, he knew nothing he’d gone through would compare to whatever Zaya had suffered. His mind often jumped to worst-case scenarios until he thought he’d drive himself crazy. His fists clenched. He shouldered all the blame for her capture and he’d never be able to forgive himself. It was his new– and only– goal in life to do everything he could to earn Zaya’s forgiveness now.
If they could get her out of there alive.
The radio crackled again, and he sucked in a breath. Nate, Jake, and Colt were three of the best men on Griffin Force. That’s why he’d sent them after Zaya. But sending in a small extraction team had its risks, especially when Nazer was on his home turf. He seemed to move about Afghanistan as if it were his own kingdom. Stealing Zaya back would be a huge coup, and Nazer would most likely come after them harder than before, but Julian couldn’t care about any of that. He just needed the words that she was safe.
He pressed the radio closer to his ear, not wanting to miss any part of the incoming transmission.
“Package is secure.”
It took a moment for the words to sink in.  Had he dreamed them? But when they finally registered, he sagged against the wall, finally slumping to the ground, unable to stand the mountain of relief pouring over him. Zaya was on the helo. Safe.
“Your plan worked! They got her out.” Augie’s slid down the wall to sit next to him, pointing at his lucky plaid shirt. “I’m telling you, every time I wear this shirt, the mission ends in success.”
“Then you should never take it off.” Julian could hardly speak. His mind was racing ahead. Getting Zaya back would only be the beginning. Dealing with what had happened would take a lifetime. What had she been forced to endure? Could she come back from it?
Suddenly the air in the command center was too stifling. He had to get out of this room. Pulling himself up, he jerked open the door. The air outside wasn’t any more breathable– its dryness made his throat itch– but he sucked in a few breaths anyway and tilted his face skyward. It was too early for there to be any sign of the rescue helo, so all he got was a faceful of sun. Temperatures had been more comfortable with winter coming, but the days could still be hot. He wouldn’t be sad to leave Afghanistan behind.
Thinking back, his last day with Zaya had been warm and bright like today and full of so much hope. Late spring in Morocco was beautiful and when he knew he’d be there with Zaya, he’d contacted his jeweler friend Nabil– not because he would help with their assignment, but because Julian was ready to choose an engagement ring for Zaya. They’d been discussing marriage and Julian was planning the perfect proposal. The Moroccan mission was supposed to have been a quick pick-up of one of Nazer’s associates to take him to a black site for questioning, and there would be plenty of time to pick out a ring. They should have been back in England within seventy-two hours, but Julian hadn’t considered the idea the pick-up was a trap. He’d been too preoccupied with the ring, how he would propose, and what her answer would be.
The loop of their last movements together that day ran through his mind as it had thousands of times before. That last morning when they’d left the hotel, on their way to the counter-terrorism facility where Nazer’s associate Mbarek Bahnini was being held. Laughing and chatting about the little man on the sidewalk who’d tried to cheat them out of eighty dirhams to be their “tour guide.” Julian had held her close, glad she was his to love, and anxious to make his proposal.
They’d been a little bit early to the counter-terrorism facility, but it hadn’t taken long before Bahnini was secure in the transport vehicle, and Julian had told Zaya he’d meet her at the airport. Nabil’s jewelry shop was five minutes away, and he wanted to have her ring in his pocket before they got on the plane. Zaya had raised an eyebrow, but smothered her curiosity, just nodding. Looking at her trusting, beautiful face, he’d wanted to drop to one knee and ask her right then, but there was no way he would have lived down proposing marriage to her in front of a Moroccan counter-terrorism office. Instead, he’d kissed her goodbye and watched her get into the back of the van.
That was the last time he’d seen her.
As near as he could guess, the motorcade had been attacked at the same moment he was putting her emerald engagement ring in his pocket. He’d been on his way to the airport in a little blue taxi when he’d seen the smoke just ahead. Blindly, he’d jumped out and ran for the scene. It was bloody carnage everywhere. No one had been spared. Their prisoner was shot execution-style, still handcuffed in the back of the van. The second guard from the back of the van had been lying half in and half out of the door, and when Julian approached him, he’d still been alive. Julian held his head, knowing from the rattling breaths, he didn’t have much longer. “Zaya?” Julian had asked, praying she wasn’t dead.
“Taken,” the man had whispered. “Nazer.”
Those two words shook him to his core and from that moment on, the ring box in Julian’s pocket was like a cannonball of regret. There was no doubt Nazer had been after him, as the head of Griffin Force, and Julian would have been there if not for the ring. Instead, one of the most wanted terrorists in the world had gotten Zaya. The guilt was crushing.
Julian had been driven in his hunt for Nazer before, but from that day on, he was relentless. He called in every favor he was owed and used every penny at his disposal to find Zaya.  
And now he had.
It was impossible to stand still. He strode back and opened the door to the communications building he’d exited. Augie was at the computer, monitoring the helo. From the little blip on the screen, Zaya was about ten minutes out. Good.
“I’m going down to the landing zone,” Julian said to Augie, pushing down his jitters. After all these months of waiting, Julian needed to make sure he was there the moment she touched down. Augie nodded and Julian walked away. Several Griffin Force soldiers who were guarding the perimeter eyed him as he passed by, but no one approached. He was glad. Explanations, or small talk, were beyond him right now.
Camp Bastion had a lot of empty space, but as soon as he’d received the go ahead to use the buildings on the far edge of the camp, the first thing he’d done was secure a makeshift airstrip. His steps slowed and he began to pace the length of landing zone, waiting for the helo. Finally, he heard it in the air. Shading his eyes, he watched the descent. Sand briefly obscured the aircraft as it landed and Julian took a step forward, letting the rushing granules sting his face, reminding him this was real. She was here. His stomach was in knots, but the moment the aircraft was safe to approach he was running, needing to see her.
The helo door opened, and Jake Williams, still in his tactical gear, put up his hand. “Wait. Give her a minute.”
But Julian had waited six long months. He pushed Jake to the side. Elliott was there in the middle of the floor, his entire focus on the woman lying very still before him. A woman that looked nothing like the Zaya Julian remembered.
Her long, brown hair was now short and matted. She looked filthy, but underneath the dirt, it was obvious her skin was pale and waxy-looking, as if death had claim on her, but hadn’t quite received its due. Her cheekbones were more prominent than they had been six months ago, and her one visible wrist looked like it could be snapped in two with only a touch. His heart wrenched hard, twisting his insides and making it difficult to breathe.
He looked at Elliott, whose eyes were full of compassion. “You probably have a lot of questions, but right now we need to get her inside,” he said just loud enough for Julian to hear. “She needs treatment for an infection on her foot.”
“Her foot?” Julian held on to the edge of the door, trying to steady himself. Standing there, frozen in place, wasn’t how he imagined their reunion. He wanted to be strong, able to comfort her, but it was as if his body could only stare dumbly and try to process the scene in front of him.
“Some deep lacerations that haven’t healed properly. She’s got a fever, and we need to get that under control.” His tone was brisk as he started to move the stretcher into position for transport. “Once she’s settled, we can talk about where to go from here.”
Julian nodded. That was reasonable. But he didn’t feel reasonable. He wanted to take her in his arms. To tell her how sorry he was. To beg her to forgive him. Instead, he stepped back and watched as they lowered the stretcher from the helo. She didn’t move. Was she unconscious? Sleeping? 
As if Zaya had heard his unspoken question, she opened her eyes, squinting at the sun. Julian leaned over and took her hand carefully in his, feeling the raised skin of scars on her palms. What had they done to her? “Z, it’s me, Julian.”
For one brief moment, she squeezed his hand and brought it to her cheek. But then her brown eyes locked on his and he couldn’t hide his shock at her obvious pain and misery. His breath seized at how naked and raw the emotions were swirling between them.
“I’m sorry,” he murmured, not knowing what else to say, but needing to say something.
She turned away without a word, her light tugging on his hand forcing him to release her.
“We’ve got to treat her now,” Elliott said, as they moved her into the triage area. “You’ll have time to talk later.”
Julian folded his arms and watched them take her inside, trying to calm the feelings inside him. It felt like his soul had been raked over the coals, the hot trail of guilt and regret leaving a path that burned through his body. The agony of being separated from her had multiplied at seeing the result of her captivity. And from her reaction, she blamed him, just as he blamed himself.
He started toward the hospital, but quickly detoured back to the command center where he’d spent the morning waiting for news. He wrenched open the door. Augie was inside, engrossed in whatever was on his computer screen. He glanced over to see who’d come in, a puzzled look on his face.
Julian managed to get eight words, “I need to be alone for a minute,” past the lump in his throat. Augie didn’t ask any questions, just closed his laptop and scurried past him immediately.
Once Julian was alone, he locked the door and slid to the floor, his head in his hands. A groan escaped from deep inside and, after that, he couldn’t stop the anguish flooding over him like an avalanche. Silent tears coursed down his face. He knew he would need to be strong for her in the days ahead, but he gave himself this window of time to mourn for everything she’d suffered and the fact that nothing would ever be the same again. For either of them.
He didn’t know how long he sat like that, but a knock at the door jolted him back to the present. “Sir? Sir, you’re needed at the hospital. They’re calling for you to come immediately.” Augie’s voice was agitated, more so than usual. That meant trouble.
Julian scrambled to his feet. The only reason the hospital would call was if something had happened to Zaya. Remembering how fragile she’d looked, his heartbeat picked up as alarm raced through him.
“On my way,” he said, as he pulled the door open. She wasn’t going to die now. Not if he had anything to say about it.  

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

I Need Your Vote!

I was notified by the RONE Award committee that my novel, Love's Broken Road, has made it through the first round of the award process and is moving on to the second! The second round is where the public votes for their favorite book. There are quite a few books that are on the list (and I'm so honored to be among them!) so I could really use your vote.

All you have to do is click here and you'll be taken to the InD'Tale website. Once you log in (creating an account is free and they never sell your email) then scroll down to week five and find Love's Broken Road in the sweet romance category. Click on it and voila! You're done.

As you all know, Love's Broken Road, is my first contemporary romance and I would be thrilled to make it through this round and on to the last one where a panel of judges would read it.

So, could you take a moment and vote for me?

Monday, May 15, 2017

Double Book Review AND a Giveaway!

If you got a gift card to Deseret Book or Amazon for Mother's Day yesterday, you need to use it and get a book called, Once There Was A Mom, by Emily Watts. It is a short book, but so full of emotions that will make you laugh and cry and just feel good about all your efforts in the motherhood department. We are all different in how we approach motherhood, but at the same time, we're all in this together! You will love this one. Beautiful illustrations and timeless truths make this a book you will read again and again.

You can get your copy here

Here's the back copy:

'Mom'' was the biggest word in her world. It made her want to dance, and it made her want to hide. And on some nights, when the house was dark and still and the moon peeked through the window, it made her wonder.

For every mom who has ever wondered if all the little things she does in a day made a difference, Once There Was a Mom offers hope and encouragement. Take it from someone who, like you, has read story after story, sung lullaby after lullaby, and even taken the batteries out of the toys once in a while! The truth is, little things are much more important than we may think. With contemporary, stylized illustrations by artist Destin Cox, this charming gift book will bring a smile to the face of mothers of any age.

I am so excited to be part of the blog tour for Jenny Proctor's new book, Wrong For You. I've enjoyed her stories in the past, but I was a little nervous about this one. A woman in love with two brothers? You know that isn't going to end well. But I was pleasantly surprised with how the author handled the subject matter.

Lane Bishop has moved back to Chapel Hill to try and start over again. She has a job she really loves and is living near her beloved grandmother. She doesn't really want to join the singles' scene again, but some well-meaning girls from the LDS singles ward drag her to a soccer game where four "untouchable" Hamilton brothers are playing a soccer game. They are all good looking, but one is engaged, one is heading out on a mission, and the other is in a relationship. That leaves one single one who never dates. But Lane is never one to back down from a challenge and decides she's not going to sit on the sidelines and watch the game, she's going to participate. When Jamie Hamilton, the only single one of the brothers, tells her she'd be in over her head, she goes to the captain of the other team and he lets her play---and they win! Of course Jamie Hamilton wants to know more about her, but he's too busy wallowing in the loss. His older brother Simon comes over to congratulate them on the win, and specifically Lane. And so begins the love story, but who will it be with? Lane and Jamie? Or Lane and Simon? The road to love is definitely never easy.

I thought the author did a great job with the setting of Chapel Hill, and included so many wonderful details about food and family traditions and childhood memories, it really fleshed out her characters and made them feel real. I loved how both the heroes and heroine came from strong families and while they'd had their trials, they were like anyone else, trying to find love and the person you'd want to spend the rest of your life with. Of course, having a romance with one brother while trying to squash the spark you feel for the other brother is complicated and messy and that kept me turning pages to see who Lane would end up with for sure. I definitely wished we would have gotten a tiny bit more in the payoff at the end after wading through all the struggles for love, but it was still a book I closed with a smile and a sigh. A great afternoon read.

You can get your copy here

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

Here's the back copy:

Lane Bishop is a hardworking, intelligent, beautiful young woman. And with her recent move to Chapel Hill, she is determined to leave behind the drama and effort of keeping up with the dating scene. Even so, Lane somehow manages to get dragged out by a gaggle of girls to watch a bunch of guys play soccer. But just watching is not Lane’s forte, so she joins in the fun and leads her team to victory. Rather than feeling intimidated by the vivacious beauty on the opposing team, Jamie Hamilton is intrigued. Risking his “untouchable” dating status, he decides to pursue Lane—with a little help from his older brother Simon. With Simon’s behind-the-scenes assistance, Jamie proves irresistible, even to a disillusioned dater like Lane. But as she gets to know both brothers, Lane can’t help but wonder—beneath the grand gestures and romantic words, is she falling for the wrong guy?

Here is the blog tour schedule:


May 16th:,,,,

May 17th:,,,

May 18th:,,,,

May 19th:,,,,,

Friday, May 12, 2017

Friday Freebie--Historical Romance!

Today's Friday Freebie is Saving Grace by Michele Paige Holmes. I really enjoyed this one!

You can download your free Kindle copy here

Here's the back copy:

After the death of her grandfather, the Duke of Salisbury, Grace Thatcher wants nothing more than to live quietly in the country with her younger siblings. Her father’s debts thwart those plans, and to protect her sister, Helen, Grace must marry a man of her father’s choosing.

As each suitor proves less than desirable, Grace comes up with clever schemes, causing each to reject her. While staying at the mysterious Sutherland Hall, a middle-of-the-night mishap sends Grace into the arms of a stranger, Nicholas Sutherland—and provides inspiration for her grandest plan yet—one that will leave her reputation in tatters yet free both her and Helen from all possibility of marriage.

Too late Grace regrets her rash actions when her father’s last choice, Mr. Samuel Preston, proves to be a gentleman and a friend. But Samuel is the sworn enemy of Nicholas Sutherland, the man responsible for her “ruin.” Now instead of being free, Grace is caught between two men—each with his own agenda.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

How Do You Feel About Authors Changing Genres?

As most of you know, I released a romance a few months back called Love's Broken Road. This was a whole new thing for me and I was nervous about it, but the book was really well-received. I even have the next book in the series outlined and I've been working on my opening scenes. It's so exciting for me!

Here's the thing. I also have an idea for a historical romance. I love reading historical romance, but never thought I'd write one, so this idea is a little scary for me. I don't know if I can really do justice to the historical genre.

So, here's my question to you: How do you feel when authors change genres? Does it bother you? Do you have one genre in mind for a certain author and it's weird when they try to write in another? I need some outside opinions on this. That historical would definitely be out of my comfort zone, so should I stick to romantic suspense? Or romance?


Help a girl out and give me some opinions, will you?

photo credit: One Way Stock Character Question Mark via photopin (license)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Book Review: Sense and Second Chances

I'm so excited to be part of the blog tour for Brittany Larsen's new novel, Sense and Second Chances. I love Jane Austen's books, and while this does have some elements of Sense and Sensibility, Ms. Larsen makes the story her own and adds a depth and poignancy to the characters that really make it stand out.

Emily Carter and her younger brother and sister are faced with the unthinkable when both of their parents die in an accident. Their lives are turned upside down and Emily feels responsible to try to make things as normal as she can for all of them. On top of everything else, their older half-brother decides to get married, and comes to take over the family home. Thankfully Emily's dad left her a ranch, so they have somewhere to go, but that presents its own set of problems.

This book addresses quite a few themes of religious convictions, judging others, depression, death, and family dynamics that aren't ideal. I thought the author handled them well, intertwining them with a realistic story that showcased the strength of the human spirit. The two love stories both had twists and turns that I wasn't expecting and I was turning pages long into the night to see how it would all end. I wasn't disappointed!

You can get your copy here

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

Here's the back copy:

Emily Carter is on the fast track to success when the unthinkable happens: a tragic accident claims the lives of her parents. Now Emily must set aside her dreams and raise her two younger siblings, Annie and Bryce. Emily and Annie are sisters, but that doesn’t mean they are anything alike. Whereas Emily reacts to the tragedy with her characteristic stoic calm, passionate Annie spirals into depression. Just when things seem like they can’t get any more difficult, Emily’s older half-brother and his fiancĂ©e arrive not to help, but to claim the family home he’s inherited from their parents. 

Without a place to call their own, Emily must take action—and fast. When an exciting employment opportunity arises in Utah, the displaced Carters decide to build a new life in a new home. But it soon becomes clear that their future prospects will go far beyond professional, as each sister is faced with an unexpected romance. Yet love is never simple, and in matters of the heart, one sister must proceed with caution while the other needs to take a leap of faith . . .

Blog Tour Schedule:

*May 11th:,,,,,

 * May 12th:,

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Research Rabbit Hole

So, in a scene for my work in progress, there's this big fight scene and some plexiglass gets shot. I didn't know if it would make a tiny little hole or shatter like it does in the movies. So I got caught in a research rabbit hole today watching all kinds of Youtube videos and reading articles about the differences between bulletproof glass, plexiglass, and safety glass and what happens when you shoot at it, beat it with a hammer, and even whack at it with an axe.

I learned so many things! Did you know that in the movies, it's really just sugar that they've applied a process to so it will shatter a certain way? And that safety glass isn't really all that safe. Look at this video:

You would be surprised how many awesome videos there are and different ways there are of "testing" it to see how much violence certain glass can take. I had a great time and really learned a lot.

The downside is, of course, that I won't use more than three sentences about it in my book, if that. Sigh. But, I'm sure that information will come in handy someday. At least that's what I tell myself.

Before you feel too sad for me, though, the life of a writer is never dull, that's for sure! And I'm a Youtube expert on so many weird things that I can be fun at a party. Well, a writer's party, maybe, where people understand why you know a lot of details about strange things. Haha!

Now that I've come up for air from my "rabbit hole" I really need to get back to writing this amazing and authentic fight scene. I'll be sure to point it out to you when it's published, just so you can see how it all turns out!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Hawaii Five-O Recap and Review: Where Steve Shines & Grover Sings

This week's episode has McG flashbacks and I've been looking forward to it. There's still a lot of story the writers could tell about McG's past, so I love when they dig into that.

It starts at Camp Delta in Guantanamo Bay where McG is walking in the prison, accompanied by two armed guards. (He's also wearing two shirts and a coat, so the man has to be sweating buckets!) Before he goes into the cell, he flashes back to 2007 where he is uncuffing a prisoner and giving him a prayer rug. Back to present day, he steps through the cell door and is faced with the same prisoner, who is now looking a little more healthy. His name is Salaam and he tells McG the years have been kind to him (yes they have!) and that if he has family on Oahu, he needs to get them off. Not a threat, mind you, a warning.

Dun, dun, dun.

Cut to Coughlin meeting with Chin in a coffee shop. They've got problems in San Francisco with the Triads and he wants Chin to head up a task force there similar to Five-O. I guess if he can't break up the team through Abby's efforts, he'll try his own way. Chin is going to think about it.

And if that weren't enough going on, we cut to Adam and Kono meeting Hirsch at Kamekona's to discuss how Kono can help him. He wants to expand Crime Clean, but the bank turned him down. Adam says his business plan is terrible, with just one page and in a red font. Hirsch thinks it's not the business plan, but because he's an ex-con and so he wants Kono to expunge his record. She refuses, but volunteers Adam to help him with his business plan, since he ran a "multi-national" company before. (Did she mean the Yakuza thing? And with a business degree, do you think the best Adam can find is construction jobs? Really? Hmm). Kono gives Adam a lingering kiss goodbye and even though Hirsch points to his cheek, she doesn't give him any sugar. (Just give up, Hirsch. She's happily married.)

Steve is trying to convince his team that Salaam is telling the truth and his warning is good. They're all hemming and hawing that Salaam is former al-Qaeda who hates Americans and so they can't trust any intel of his. (*shakes head* Um, how many times has Steve's gut saved their lives?) Steve mentions that he treated Salaam with dignity and that goes a long way, so all the man is doing is trying to return the favor. Apparently, another prisoner told Salaam an attack was imminent on Oahu and mentioned the words Cain Allah. But, Kono says, there's been no chatter, and maybe the guy just wants leverage! But how would that be when the guy didn't ask for anything? (I guess I don't see why the head of the task force is having to plead with his team to take a threat from a former al-Qaeda guy seriously. He's the boss! Just listen to him. I mean, he's rarely wrong. And it's not like they have anything better to do right now, am I right?)

Steve flashes back to giving Salaam a food tray (I love this insight into Steve's character when he was in the service) and Jerry comes in to say that maybe Cain Allah is actually mispronounced Hawaiian. If so, then it matches a travel agency on the island, so Kono and Grover head over to check it out. The receptionist guy is so happy to see them! Until they show their badge. Then he gets cagey, like that's not suspicious. He tells them the cameras and security are to protect the safe in the back and only the owner has a key for it. Of course in the back room, a guy is emptying a safe full of money and running out the back door. But SuperGrover has disappeared from the front and is now around back to meet him at the door, punch him in the face, and say, "Stop. Hammer time." Must have been listening to an 80s station on the way over.

Steve comes into the travel agency for the lowdown. These guys have been moving a lot of cash through the travel agency and brokering it through the Middle East, but luckily there's a ledger of names. (Not even coded names! Silly terrorists.) Chin is running background and cross checking it with the terror watch list. And guess what? Now Salaam's warning is a credible threat. (Steve is always right, but he never says I told you so.)

Hirsch is annoying Adam, slurping through his drink while Adam works on his presentation. He gives Hirsch some good advice to just own his ex-con thing and show the bankers that he's making the most of his second chance. (He really has talent at this. Perhaps he could be a life coach!) Hirsch thinks that's good advice, but makes things awkward talking to Adam about his feelings for Kono and her "feelings" for him. Adam is gracious about everything and barely suppresses a smile through all of it.

Chin actually gets through the hundreds of names pretty quickly (MagicChin!) and one jumps out at him. A professor of international relations! (Those professors. It's always the educated ones that you least suspect.) His name is Adnan Khalid. No record, but has $100,000 worth of transfers in the ledger. It's a great excuse to break down the guy's door, but he's not there. He did leave a laptop with a message on it, though, that when they get this, he'll be in the light of Allah, and the events that took place were in retaliation for the slaughter of someone named Turiq in Kabul. The message was supposed to be uploaded at 6:20 p.m. so they have three hours to figure out what the attack is. (That's not a lot of time. If the team had just believed Steve sooner! Sheesh!)

McG flashes back to a CIA guy giving him grief for being nice to Salaam and not using more standard techniques to get info from prisoners. Steve tries to explain that they have time with this guy to cultivate a relationship, but he's not having it and tells McG his problem is that he likes to do things his own way. McG is looking down on him and says that if he's not pulling him off, then stay out of his face. (For real. Why are the CIA guys always so cranky?)

So, not surprising, ProfessorKhalid dropped off the grid, he's on sabbatical from work, and his neighbors haven't seen him lately. That doesn't bode well. McG's gut says the attack has to be military since it's in retaliation for Turiq who was taken out in a SEAL raid. (And he would know all about those!) Chin puts his super tracking powers to the test again and tracks down a burner phone the guy bought. Not only that, but he tracks it to a mosque! SuperTrackingChin.  McG and Grover go to the mosque, but service is just letting out and they can't see Khalid, so Chin calls the phone and the guy who has it takes off running. McG gives chase, but they lose him. (Aww. Too bad. I love a good McG takedown!) Grover finally catches up and asks McG where the guy went, (like he's some sort of fortune teller), but they don't stand there long wondering before the guy comes roaring around the corner on a motorbike. He crashes, though, and is launched into traffic where he is grotesquely run over and killed (but his injuries don't look that bad, actually.) They turn him over and it's not Khalid! Uh oh.

McG is watching Khalid's message over and over on his computer while Grover and Kono are staring at him awkwardly through his office glass like looky-loos at a traffic accident. (That would probably be me if I worked with McG) Well, McG finally goes down to Jerry's office and asks him if there's anything off in Khalid's laptop. He says that Eric believes the browser history was hacked and someone is trying to make it look like Khalid had been radicalized. So, he's being set up, but by who? McG agrees with Eric and Jerry, and says the message Khalid left reminds him of a POW with dilated pupils and a strained voice. He's probably being forced to do this and is a captive somewhere! Poor Khalid.

Welp, there's no ID on the dead guy, he's a ghost. But all is not lost! The ghost had that burner phone and they unlock it to see recon pictures of a building. They quickly match it (is there a computer program with pics of every building on it?) It's an empty office building. Maybe a diversion? But on the way there, they see a plane flying right over it and they realize it's on a flight path. What plane is coming in at 6:20? A Marine's body that was killed in combat with a lot of his unit that were part of the Turiq raid in Afghanistan. McG quickly realizes the building is a launch point and they're running out of time. Cut to the roof where a guy is setting up a rocket launcher, and Khalid is tied and gagged watching him. That's not good.

The team heads into the building and takes the stairs. Two armed men are covering the access to the roof so a gunfight breaks out. While Kono and Grover keep them busy, McG finds an office and breaks out a window and does a Spiderman climb up the side of the building. (You would have to have some pretty amazing arm strength to do that, just sayin') The rocket launcher dude doesn't hear Steve pull himself up and doesn't even turn around until McG tackles him. (He's very focused on his Rocket Launching job. His boss would be so proud!) They fight, but McG gets the upper hand with his knife. RocketLauncherDude pulls the knife out of his leg, but Steve isn't taking any chances that he'll throw the knife at him I guess, and shoots the rocket at the guy to vaporize him. (Cool, but isn't that a bit overboard? I mean, knife vs. rocket? Ouch. Also, how did the rocket launcher just explode over one guy? Wouldn't it just clip him on the way by and hit one of the buildings behind him? I guess I need to read up on rockets.) Anyway, he ungags the professor who proclaims his innocence. (Can I just ask how a plane being taken down would warrant a warning to McG to get all of his loved ones off of Oahu? I guess Salaam's terrorist friend thought the attack would be bigger or something.) Grover and Kono catch up to Steve and he asks them if they're all right. Well, Grover says, the gunmen are dead and I was looking forward to some one on one debriefing time. Then, he delivers some more song lyrics of "you can't always get what you want." (Seriously, he must have had some crazy Pandora on today or something!)

We do get to see a clip of the Marine's coffin is shown being taken off the plane. Sobering.

Chin catches Steve before he heads into Kamekona's and tells him about Coughlin's offer. Steve knew about it because Coughlin had told Steve he was going to ask Chin as a professional courtesy. Chin says he's thinking about it, but he needs to make things official with Abby before he asks her to turn her life upside down. Steve is happy for Chin wanting to make things official. (They have such a great friendship. It's good to see them happy.) Steve gets a phone call while Chin joins Adam, Kono, and Hirsch. Hirsch is sad since all nine banks turns him down. Kamekona offers to invest in Crime Clean to be a "silent" partner, only he throws out the Hirsch Kamekona Crime Clean Enterprise. It was a sweet speech from Kame about being an ex-con and finding people who believe in you and want to give you a chance, like Five-O did for him. He wants to pay it forward. Awww.

McG calls the team over. He reached out to Joe White and Joe says those guys they killed were ex-KGB mercs. But the motorbike guy was actually outside the U.S. Capitol building and somehow, there may be a rogue faction inside the government in on the domestic terrorism. This was possibly their first strike in their political agenda. (Well, someone's been watching Designated Survivor!)

The final scene is McG offering water to Salaam in 2007. He's scruffy with a ball cap on and quite concerned about the prisoner. Salaam asks why he is offering this kindness? He knew who McG was and his men feared him. McG says they're both men who came into the world the same way and sometimes it's easy to forget that. Salaam tells him he'll never forget this. (A very touching scene and beautifully acted.)

I loved this episode. Action, emotion, and some great teamwork. I could have done without the Hirsch parts, but Adam was there, so it was tolerable.

Can't wait for next week's finale! Did you watch? What did you think?

Friday, May 5, 2017

Freebie Friday

Today's Freebie Friday is a contemporary romance by an author I've never read before. It's Good Enough for a Princess by Carol Moncado. It's a royalty romance, and those are always a nice afternoon read! I'll have to let you know what I think.

You can download your free Kindle copy here

Here's the back copy:

Crown Princess Adeline of Montevaro has her life planned out for her: get her Master's in international relations, marry nobility, produce an heir, inherit the throne. There's no room for romance with the single father she meets when their cars collide on an icy winter night. Parliament - and her father - would never approve.

Charlie Brewer grew up without roots. The son of an archaeologist father and anthropologist mother, he either traveled along or lived with his aunt and uncle in the States. He's determined to give his daughter the stability he never had. He also wants to give her a mom, but the beautiful European he's falling for refuses to move to Serenity Landing, Missouri permanently.

He won't move. She can't stay. What will happen when they try to forget each other by dating someone "acceptable"? They find themselves drawn together by one of the girls in the after school program Addie supports - a girl who happens to be Charlie's daughter. How will Charlie, and his daughter, feel when they find out the woman they've both fallen for is a... princess?

A trip halfway around the world shows Charlie and Addie how much they long to be together - and how impossible it is. Is there any way he can prove he is Good Enough for a Princess?

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Dystopian Fans, There's A Jane Redd Book On Sale!

We had Jane Redd (also known as Heather Moore) come to our book club last month and she talked about her dystopian series. It sounded so amazing and I noticed today that the second book in the series, Lake Town, (that came out not too long ago), is on sale for only .99 cents! I snapped it up and thought I'd pass along the deal!

Here's the back copy:

USA Today bestselling author Jane Redd presents LAKE TOWN, A Solstice Novel, #2:

Jezebel James is on the run after her true abilities are discovered by the Legislature, and the only one who can protect her is Sol. In order to survive, Sol sends her into an underground hideout where she quickly discovers all that she thought was true in her dying world is false. Jez reunites with Rueben and his band of insurgents, and together they escape to Lake Town, only to find that the entire island is preparing to invade the City.

But Sol has been left behind and forced to join the ranks of the Faction, who are working against the Legislature from within. As Jez works with the insurgents and their plan to destroy the City, she learns that attacking the City might save thousands of lives, but it will destroy Sol, the man she knows she can’t live without.

Praise for SOLSTICE, Book #1: "In this slickly told YA sci-fi tale by Redd, climate change has brought about the world that George Orwell famously predicted, only a century or so behind schedule. [Solstice] has a timely ecological hook. A solid ... YA tale of dictatorship, set in 2099 that parties like it's Nineteen Eighty-Four." --Kirkus Reviews

You can download your Kindle copy here

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Free Book AND a Giveaway!

I came across this free ebooklet, The Perfect Mom, by Michelle Wilson, about everyday moms with cute little stories and some things that every mom out there who hasn't felt good enough should hear. With Mother's Day just around the corner, I thought I'd pass along the deal!

You can download your free Kindle copy here

Here's the back copy:

"A book for every mother who's felt they weren't enough. You are more than enough. You are perfect." Michelle

Do you ever try to be the perfect mother, only to end up feeling like the worst mother ever?

I have.

When I was young, I thought my mother was perfect. Imagine my devastation when I realized she was an imperfect person like the rest of us. When I became a mother myself, I was determined to be the perfect mom for my kids. However, many times the opposite happened and I felt like the worst mother ever. Here I share six such occasions where my worst-mother-ever moments really shine (like that time my friend's child asked for a salad for lunch and mine was eating cereal off the floor, or the time my daughter cut her hair into a half-mullet when I wasn’t home).

But, the truth is, even though we are not perfect women, we truly are the perfect moms for our kids. Through learning to laugh at ourselves, recognizing moments of perfection, not comparing ourselves to others, seeing God's hand in our lives, and accepting the reality that isn't only our strengths that make us good mothers, but our weaknesses as well, we can truly come to believe that we are the perfect moms for our kids. And, most likely, our own moms, imperfections and all, are perfect for us, too.

I also am excited to tell you about a new book out called Simplify Supper by Krista Numbers. As a mother of eight children, I feel like I have the dinner thing down, so I wasn't expecting this book to teach me anything I didn't already know. But it did! I love the author's down to earth approach, her history with food, and how her easy, everyday meals will still stand up to family meals AND having guests! She has new twists on old favorites like her Honey Lime Chicken Enchilada that is to die for.

The other thing I really liked about this book is that the recipes are something an everyday mom could easily make. I don't know if this has happened to you, but sometimes when I get a new recipe, I never end up making it because it has some exotic ingredient in it that I never usually buy. The recipes in this cookbook have ingredients that are found in pretty much every kitchen, so I loved that! There were so many good ones that my family is voting on which one I should make next.

So if you are looking to spice up your recipe repertoire with easy, fun meals from one mom to another, then you've definitely got to pick this book up.

Don't forget to scroll down and enter the giveaway!

You can order your copy here

Here's the back copy:

From her grandfather Salvatore Granato's roots in Southern Italy to the legacy of her family's beloved Italian deli in the heart of Salt Lake City, Krista Numbers has a deep-seated love for good food. In Simplify Supper, this busy wife and mother proves that simple can be satisfying as she dishes up dozens of delectable dinners. From some of her family's best-loved Italian meals to fast feasts with an international flair, discover quick comfort foods you'll want at the heart of your dinner table, such as:

•Angel Hair Pasta with Basil Cream Sauce

•Smoked Turkey Panini with Pears and Blue Cheese

•Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas

• Teriyaki Chicken with Ginger Rice

In addition to her collection of simple and satisfying meals, Krista shares personal anecdotes, sanity-saving kitchen tips, and suggestions for making family dinner a time for good food and good conversation. No matter the occasion, there is a recipe here to help you get a delicious supper on the table, pronto.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Hawaii Five-O Recap and Review: Big Trouble On The North Shore

We start out with Danny and Steve putting together a cute race car room for Charlie. Steve is on a ladder, putting up wall paper, thinking about doing something like those shows that renovate houses for the families. He seems in his element, as always. (Can you think of a time when Steve wasn't confident?) Danny is staring at the bed parts, unsure what to do because he threw the instructions away. (I guess Danny's never been to IKEA. Those instructions are like gold!) There's a knock at the door and it's Captain Tanaka! Danny's old boss before he was drafted onto the task force. Surprisingly, Danny doesn't seem happy to see him, but grudgingly lets him in. He reminds Danny about the last case he worked that went cold because the witness was killed but there was no body. Welp, guess what? The NotDead guy turned up!

We quickly turn to a Special News Report. Some guy in a coma for seven years had an elevated sugar level and was waking up! And they don't care about privacy at all and show all his caregivers and the coma patient in his hospital bed. It must have been a very slow news day in Hawaii. (For a minute I thought they were faking and this episode was going a very different way because the guy in the hospital bed did NOT look anything like a man who'd been in a coma for seven years, cooped up inside and on a feeding tube. He looked healthy! But, I guess they couldn't find an actor who looked more sickly.) So, the story is, they found a guy at the bottom of a ravine with no ID and severe head injuries and brought him there. Did no one notify the police? No missing persons reports? And in seven years, no one thought to do fingerprints or something? He's obviously still recognizable as Makeno, since Danny ditched Steve and is in a car with Captain Tanaka both believing this is their missing witness.

Flashback: to Danny seven years ago when he wore ties, arriving at the old drug case. Captain Tanaka beats him to the crime scene and gives him a little grief about it. Danny is sensitive, feeling like the Captain is getting after him. Does somebody need a hug? There's a bunch of people in orange vests milling around, but one guy sort of ambles by, looking really suspicious and Danny goes to talk to him. He mumbles that he doesn't know anything (sure, he doesn't!) and Danny gives him his card that actually says Donald Williams on it. Ha! He scribbles out Donald and writes Danny in.

Present Day--Danny is staring at Makeno in his hospital bed and the Captain comes in with the guy's personal effects and there's a corner of Danny's card there. It IS Makeno. But by the time they figure it out, a lockdown alarm is going off. Danny goes into the hall where there are a ton of people just moseying around and nurses are trying to corral them into their rooms. Now, usually, during a lockdown police are called, emergency services, SWAT, fire trucks, the works. Especially for an assisted living center, you would think there would be a large response. But not on the North Shore! HPD is TWENTY MINUTES out! And I guess there's no one else close by. Yeah, I wouldn't want to be having an emergency on the North Shore.

Danny calls Steve, a little panicked, and says he needs back up, a guard's been killed, and to hurry! Steve tries to calm him and says he's on his way, but really, won't he get there around the same time as HPD?

Flashback: Danny is arguing with Rachel about a sleepover and Grace's schedule. (I miss his Psycho ringtone he used to have for Rachel. So funny!) His buddies have put suntan lotion on his desk again and he drops it in a drawer full of them. His partner suggests he drop the tie, wear some sunglasses like Magnum P.I. because everyone loved that haole. Rachel calls back and they argue some more until Danny gets told Makeno is waiting for him on Line 4.

Present Day: A nurse comes in and Danny asks her to help move Makeno. Where? What's his plan? He doesn't know. The nurse goes over to Makeno's bed with her tray and he realizes she knows Makeno's name when she shouldn't. He confronts her and she beats him over the head with the tray and they struggle. The nurse gets the upper hand pretty quickly, choking Danny, but he grabs the syringe and stabs her in the neck with it. Ew. Captain Tanaka comes back with another nurse and Danny freaks out asking for ID. (The new nurse is Kit from A League of Their Own. I loved that show! She doesn't look the same, however with big glasses and a shorn head.) DeadGirl has a phone, but no ID. Danny takes a pic of her last few calls and a pic of her face to send to Jerry. The DeadGirl's phone has an incoming message from her team and they're coming in! Honestly, this is the worst lockdown in history. No guards. No police. No emergency vehicles. Nothing! Well, there's a panicked Danny and a retired police captain. But still.

Flashback to Danny at Makeno's apartment. He thinks there was a struggle and Makeno was taken. They connected copper piping cutters at Makeno's house to the crime scene. It's not enough evidence, though, and Captain Tanaka takes him off the case. He needs more time! Too bad. He gets the McGarrett case.

Present Day--Danny is on the phone to Steve, not to say it's been twenty minutes and HPD has arrived so it's all good, but to tell him about the Ninja lady who brought armed friends so they're putting Makeno in an ambulance and taking him to a police station. Steve just says he'll meet him there. Really? There are armed men about to come into a hospice facility, but hey, meet ya at the police station. Good luck!

I bet you're wondering where the rest of the team is. They're at the Chatting Table talking about the contract killer that nearly choked Danny to death! Her name was Laura Kendall and a number on her cell went to Dario Mendez. Because he's obviously a newbie cartel member and makes phone calls from his real phone. DumbDario is rebuilding the cartel so the ENTIRE TEAM is going to go talk to him. And leave Danny alone to deal with armed gunmen. I mean, really, nothing says family like leaving a member hanging in the wind when there are armed gunmen in the area.

Captain and Danny and NurseKit take Makeno in his bed to the elevator. Danny takes the stairs and kills two of the men waiting there. They get out to the ambulance and we cut to two more guys in Makeno's old room. Too late, suckas! But another gunman starts shooting at the ambulance and they drive away. Then we're on to real-life ambulance chasing! Two cars, both with gunmen in them that are terrible shots. They shoot a million bullets into that flimsy ambulance, but not one of them hit a person! They do hit a ventilator tube, though, but NurseKit patches that while Danny yells at her to hurry. The ambulance stops quickly and lets one of the bad guys ram into him. The doors don't even flip open! This is like a miracle ambulance! One bad guy's car is out of commission so they get into the other one, and the chase is on again. Danny sees a parking lot near a beach with a lot of people and turns in, so Captain Tanaka can shoot at the bad guys. (Because who cares about beach-goers getting caught in the crossfire!) Well, the bad guys crash into a car in the parking lot, but Danny leaves and gets all four tires punctured on the way out. Oops. Those spike strips for not paying are brutal! So the ambulance has to be stashed and they commandeer some random person's house and tell the teenage girl who answers the door to leave and not come back. That can't be legal. (Immunity and means gets you ANYTHING, my friends.) Just a random thought, with so much gunfighting on public roads, does the North Shore not have ONE POLICEMAN anywhere? Dang. Those poor North Shore residents!

Well, instead of putting the comatose patient somewhere safe, they put him in a family room right by a whole bunch of windows where he's really exposed. Maybe they thought the ambulance went so well, that an exposed position with automatic weapons would turn out, too! Then Danny calls Steve again to complain that he has no idea where he is. Really? After seven years he has no sense of where he might be at all? Near a beach? A street sign? Nothing? Jerry has to triangulate his position and Steve says he'll be there in ten minutes. Danny is his usual self and predicts he'll be dead in ten minutes. But don't worry, Steve tells him, Chin, Kono, and Grover got a lead on who's behind this and they're moving in! I'm sure that's totally comforting.

Chin, Kono, and Grover bust into Mendez's house and he denies any knowledge of what they're talking about, (surprise!) but Kono tells him they know he was the trigger man seven years ago and Makeno will probably ID him. That's the only reason he'd send in a contract killer with "a small army." (A small army? Aren't there like three guys in a black SUV?)

Danny is searching through the family's closet for a rifle since he saw a hunting trophy on the wall. The captain takes a time out to talk about the last case, that it was his bad he took Danny off, that he didn't want to hire Danny, and he's trying to apologize. Danny is super antsy, but finally says this whole thing was his fault because he was arguing with Rachel and didn't hang up so he missed Makeno's call. The captain tells him he's a good cop and that's why he came to him today, since,you know, he could have picked any other cop he knows on the island. (Yet, apparently every cop he knows are all busy and couldn't come with him anyway, and that's why he's holed up with Danny and a coma patient in a random person's house waiting for Steve.)

The DeadNurse's phone rings and the "small army" warn Danny they're coming in. So considerate! He sees them out the window, but doesn't try to shoot them yet. They go down to the family room with all the windows and hide, ready to pick them off when they come in. The small army men cut the power, so Danny runs outside to get a generator to keep Makeno's ventilator going. The miracles continue when the small army men are once again terrible shots and miss every time they shoot so Danny makes it back safely. Steve is trying to find him and when the small army men start to shoot up the house, Danny tells him to follow the gunfire. (He better hurry because the small army is coming in through the front door! Good thing they didn't go through the back.) Steve runs them over with his truck totally demolishing the front of the house. (The homeowners aren't going to be happy about that. Also, how did he know the coma patient or Danny wouldn't be in the living room?) Luckily, he only killed the bad guys. Captain Tanaka awkwardly says to Steve, "Thank you for your timely intervention. It was getting bleak in here." Who talks like that? But at least he got a thank you. Sometimes that's rare for Steve.

Danny finds out that they got DumbDario on conspiracy. So fast? What a terrible head of the cartel. They're going to move Makeno for protection. (Again? Well, stay away from the windows this time!) The captain tells Danny not to start a restaurant during retirement and to do something he loves. Meanwhile, Steve is babysitting Charlie and lies to him that Danno put the bed together all by himself and they fist bump to Danno's greatness.

Danny is talking to a comatose Makeno, talking about the team (Chin is loyal, Kono is a fox that he had a crush on, Jerry is special, Grover is from SWAT, Steve is a putz), and that he's sorry he wasn't there for him seven years ago. He says that if it wasn't for him, he wouldn't have found his family, and Hawaii wouldn't feel like home, so Makeno should wake up and meet them. (Honestly, the guy's probably exhausted after being dragged from pillar to post today.) We then get to see Steve and Danny's first meeting where they pointed guns at each other and how it all started. Awww.

Well, what I've learned from this episode:

   1. The North Shore has no emergency response to gunfire, lockdowns, or car chases.

   2.  A small army is less than six guys.

   3. All the cartels that Five-O deals with are newbies and sort of dumb.

Next week's episode looks good! Did you watch? What did you think?

Monday, May 1, 2017

Book Review and Giveaway!

Today, Lauren B. is reviewing Possibilities! Be sure to scroll all the way down and enter the giveaway!

Okay, let's be real. I loved the book Possibilities by Kiersten Lortz. It’s exactly what every woman needs to read. I do not know a single woman who is not struggling with at least one thing that is addressed in this book. The author begins by talking about being stuck and maybe not being completely happy with where you are in your life. After a rough week, this pep talk and ideas to improve how you feel about your life, were exactly what I needed to read.
Lortz did a great job speaking to women of all ages in all different stages of life. She uses scriptures and quotes, as well as her own stories and quotes that flow together beautifully and can give everyone something to think about. As a list maker, I really appreciated her idea for setting goals in different categories and taking responsibility for whether or not you achieve your goals. She also gave ideas to improve scripture study, fasting and prayer and how those play into the possibilities of your life.
My favorite chapter was on comparison. I think that this is one everyone struggles with, whether they feel like they have been looked over for a job or a calling, aren’t getting what they want out of friendships or relationships, or even have any type of social media account. We all look at others lives and wonder what they have that we don’t or wonder how they have such a perfect life. I loved the author’s story about how a woman told her of her many accomplishments, and Lortz was feeling really down on herself until she realized she had no desire to do some of those things anyway! Heavenly Father has blessed us with our own talents, as well as desires, that will help us accomplish what He needs us to do. We are amazing as we are, but we all have the possibility to accomplish even more incredible things than we ever imagined!

Download your copy here

Here's the back copy:

Do you feel stuck? Do you wish for a more joyful life than the one you’re leading? If the routine and pressures of life have you running on autopilot, it may be time to reevaluate your current course and remember that change begins within yourself—and it takes work! With refreshing insights, author Kiersten Lortz encourages you to stop waiting for things to get better and to expect the best out of life—not for yourself, but of yourself. Through inspired gospel teachings and personal experiences shared by women who have also felt stuck, you will be empowered to make the changes necessary to claim a more fulfilling and abundant life. Now is the time to transform yourself into a woman of industry and faith. By learning to eliminate negative influences, seek positivity, and create a life of productivity, you can find the strength to take action today.

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