Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Book Review & Giveaway!

I had Gregg Luke as my guest author at my book club in February and he gave us a sneak peek of Plague then. (I wish you all could touch the cover of the book. It is easily one of the prettiest I've seen and it has a texture to it that is difficult to describe, but sets it apart from any others. If you can, go into the bookstore just to touch it. So cool!) But ever since book club, it has been SO HARD to wait for this one to come out. It sounded so good! And it does not disappoint.

Dr. Mitch Pine has figured out some new information about plagues and outbreaks and he's on his way to the Center of Disease Control in Atlanta so they can help him figure out what to do next. Before he can reach them, however, he's held hostage by someone who doesn't want him telling anyone what he's found. In order to make sure he does what he's told, Dr. Pine's research assistant is held captive and will suffer if Mitch tries to reach out for help. This starts a world-wide adventure that will keep you glued to your seat!

Gregg Luke has always delivered a well-plotted and detailed thriller, but this might be his best one yet. He mentioned at book club that all of the science he uses is real and he does document the theories in the back of the book. I learned so much about plagues, outbreaks, and what might have caused them, but since it was woven so neatly into the story, it never felt like a textbook. It does scare me a little, though, that there is a chance this fiction story could become reality!

I thought Mitch Pine was believable in his actions and I have to say, some of his mannerisms reminded me of Gregg Luke himself! The secondary cast rounds out the plot and adds a layer of emotion and depth to the story that I really enjoyed. The tension was kept high as the man behind all the madness demands a high price from both Dr. Pine and his assistant. (I truly wondered if the assistant would make it out of there alive!) There was a nice twist at the end as well and readers will shut this book with a sigh of relief at having survived the wild ride of reading Plague. Another winner for Gregg Luke, and a must-have if you love scientific thrillers!

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

Get your copy here

Here's the back copy:

Centuries ago, the Black Death shadowed the world, claiming the lives of tens of millions. Now the world is on the brink of another scourge—and this time, it will be an extinction-level event. . . .

Professor Mitch Pine knows all too well the history of epidemics, so the startling new information he's discovered has him racing to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. Mitch has uncovered a startling pattern: dramatic environmental changes always occurred prior to devastating outbreaks, and current climate change may be such a catalyst. But before his plane lands, Mitch's journey takes a terrifying turn. He is intercepted by a woman who represents a dangerous faction whose interest in Mitch's research opposes his mission to save lives. To secure Mitch's cooperation, his research assistant is being held hostage. With so many lives on the line, Mitch embarks on a turbulent trip around the world, uncovering pieces of the puzzle until he ultimately holds the key to prevent—or precipitate—global devastation. Unless he can find a way to stop the lunatics behind his abduction, a plague the likes of which the world has never known will be unleashed.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Regency Romance Book Review: Seeing Miss Heartstone

I just finished a regency romance by Nichole Van, a new to me author, called Seeing Miss Heartstone. I really enjoyed a fresh take on a secret love!

Belle Heartstone has used her brilliant financial mind to add to the fortune her father left for her. Unfortunately, she is a woman in regency times, and expected to wed. Under pressure from her mother to marry someone she cannot abide, Belle decides to take matters into her own hands and propose to someone of her choosing---only he turns her down flat. Colin Radcliffe, the Marquess of Blake, needs money, but isn't desperate enough for a marriage of convenience. However, when a mysterious benefactor finances his trip to India to seek a fortune, he accepts, and begins writing letters to the man he believes is helping him dig out the financial burdens he is under. But when he returns home to England to seek out the identity of his partner, he sets in motion events that will change his life forever.

I loved the character of Belle and how she was presented as a unique woman of Regency times who was financially independent, but still cared about society's rules. She was so unaware of her own charms it made her relatable as she tried to figure out the best way to handle the consequences of her actions. At times, it was a little too drawn out as she vacillated between what she had to do and how badly she didn't want to do it, but with the depth of emotion drawn between her and Colin, I could see why she did what she did. I was really invested in Colin and Belle getting their happily-ever-after, but their love story had a lot of twists and turns! The ending was definitely swoon-worthy, though, and worth the read. I'll definitely be looking for more by this author.

You can get your copy here

Here's the back copy:

Miss Belle Heartstone—heiress and savvy businesswoman—needs a husband. Immediately. As in, yesterday would not have been soon enough. Her mother’s attempts at matchmaking have been disastrous. So Belle decides to solve the problem her way—survey the market and purchase the best groom available.

Colin Radcliffe, Marquess of Blake—debt-ridden and penniless—needs a large infusion of cash. Desperately. Preferably cash that does not come with a wife attached. It is no surprise, then, when he receives Miss Heartstone’s brazen proposal—her cash, his title, their marriage—that he politely declines.

But before he leaves her, Blake suggests something truly radical: Maybe before finding a husband, Belle should find herself.

His simple words send them both on an unexpected journey, spanning continents and years, entwining their lives in ways neither could have foreseen. Can two lonely souls move past societal expectations and forge a unique life together?

Monday, April 15, 2019

Hawaii Five-0 Recap & Review: The One With Mr. Pickles

We start with previouslies of when Steve & Danny were using a little old lady's house for a stakeout five years ago and she had a cat named Mr. Pickles and a neighbor named Ricky who took care of the cat while Agnes was out of town. I loved that episode because it showed that Steve is a cat person! (All right, he turned dog person, but in the first Mr. Pickles ep he clearly loved cats.)

Then we cut to a guy coming home. He grabs a drink and goes into the living room when he sees a window broken. Before he can do much, he's hit in the back of the head, then wakes up in a crematorium where he is burned alive. (So. Much. Ew.)

Danny and Steve are walking into a law office because they've been included in Agnes' will! Even though they don't know her and never met her, Danny is hoping for a cash reward. RickytheNeighbor is also there and hugs Steve, but gets a fist bump from Danny. They catch up a bit and Ricky says they scared him straight five years ago, so he's staying out of trouble. Also, Steve is wearing his best blue shirt (thank you wardrobe people). Danny is really hoping for cash and tells Steve that he should look for a new partner if they get $250,000. The lawyer comes in and tells them that Agnes left $842,671 to the Humane Society, Steve and Danny get her cat figurine collection, and Ricky gets guardianship of Mr. Pickles. Danny looks disappointed and Steve takes a pic of the exact moment Danny's dreams crumbled. LOL Unfortunately, Ricky is in a halfway house right now and can't keep the cat, so Danny and Steve step up. They'll take Ricky and Mr. Pickles to the office to hopefully find the cat a new home. Steve still has some cat love, though, and says he would take him except that Eddie doesn't do well with small animals. Awww. Danny says he can't take him because he doesn't like cats, and Steve comments that cats are Danny's spirit animal---solitary, moody, aloof, don't socialize well, and spend an inordinate amount of time grooming themselves. Ha!

We get a little more light-heartedness with Lou taking Adam to breakfast to check up on him. Adam refuses a shrimp taco because he watched a documentary of how shrimp are the vacuum cleaners of the ocean. Lou doesn't care about that, though. He has the stomach of a billy goat and nothing will keep him from the delicious vacuum cleaners of the sea. Adam tries to tell Lou that he doesn't have to take care of him or anything, but Lou says he just want to make sure Adam is good after his eventful year, that tough guys sometimes bottle things up and take on guilt and shame, working it around until the whole thing is their fault. Adam says he's doing okay. He's getting through it. (Dang Kono.) The only thing that got Lou through his dark period was his wife and kids and family and friends and he says that Adam has the same support system available to him with Lou and all of them. Adam admits that there were times he didn't know if he would make it through the day, but he has his job and friends and is optimistic about the future. (A nice moment for them). Lou gets a call from Noelani. She has the ashes of an unknown victim. Workers at the crematorium found evidence of a break in and the fresh human remains. Of course there are no prints or DNA or cameras and all signs point to murder, but they need to ID the victim.

Back at HQ we get the highlight of the show when Steve is cuddling Mr. Pickles against his chest. So cute! Then everyone chimes in with why they can't take him. Junior is in a monogamous relationship with Eddie, Jerry is afraid of toxoplasmosis and Tani thinks she'll become a crazy cat lady. Since they're no help, Danny sends them back to work. Ricky makes an adopt-a-cat profile, but uses a picture that makes Mr. Pickles look satanic. Danny tells him to change the pic and don't mention the cat's age since no one wants an old cat. Lou calls them to the Chatting Table and on the way there, Danny says Steve can keep all the figurines. (He seems to have some serious cat issues.) The Chatting Table convo is that the victim was wearing a pacemaker with a serial number so they ID'd him as Dale Sampson, a freelance PI and former detective who got kicked off the force for taking bribes and evidence tampering. (Lou can't take Mr. Pickles because he has enough mouths to feed and Adam is allergic.) Steve sends Tunior to check out Mr. Sampson's house and on the ride over Tani awkwardly asks Junior to be her date to a friend's wedding and he agrees. (I know some people are shipping them, but they just seem so awkward and forced to me.) Tani immediately makes sure that Junior knows she just wants to take a friend, but tells him it's an open bar, so that helps him be more excited about it. They finally get to Dale's house. The front door is unlocked and the house has been trashed, with a laptop and TV taken. Tani notices a missing rug on the floor and Junior sees bloody drag marks. They conclude that this was the primary crime scene where he was murdered and then dragged out in the rug. (Excellent deduction skills!)

Jerry finds a few of Mr. Sampson's things in pawn shops and they get an ID on the seller. Michael Manoa. He has a few priors and when Tunior goes to his house, he sees them and runs away. Junior tackles him and they arrest him. Before they can haul him off, they hear moaning coming from the house and find a guy duct-taped and beaten in there. Michael gets put in the Blue Room of Doom where he explains that he thought his wife was cheating on him so he hired Sampson to get proof, but Sampson strung him along and billed him for hours until Michael asked for his money back, then he stopped returning Michael's calls. Steve talks to him about murdering Sampson and Michael is all, slow your roll bro. (The look on Steve's face! Haha) Michael admits that Sampson's door was unlocked so he took some stuff from the house, but didn't see Sampson. Oh, and he has an alibi for the murder, he was in bed with his girlfriend. (Classy.)  The alibi checks out, too. No one knows where Sampson's laptop is since Michael didn't steal it, but Sampson used an online backup service. The team also figures out that the pacemaker transmitted data and then ends, so the exact time of death is 1:57 a.m. They all kind of look sad that Sampson was probably alive when he was burned.

Danny goes into Steve's office to put pressure on Ricky to find a match for Mr. Pickles since Ricky is being kind of picky, asking potential new owners for annual household income numbers. Danny takes the phone from him and says if you want the cat come and get it, then tells Ricky the cat has to be gone by 5:30 or he's going to the pound. Danny does give Mr. Pickles a scratch behind the ears and talk in baby talk, which Ricky notices and accuses Danny of being a closet cat lover, that his problem isn't that he hates cats, he really loves them too much. Danny confides that he had a cat once, but doesn't want one ever again. (Hmmm...)

Steve goes to Jerry who found some messages sent from Sampson's computer two hours after the guy died. It tells Mr. Nettles in Texas that he's made a breakthrough in the case and he needs to get to Hawaii. Nettles messages back with his flight info and, uh oh, the guy touched down thirty minutes ago and a bearded guy picked him up. That's not going to end well. The team finds out that Mr. Nettles was paying Sampson to investigate his eighteen-month-old daughter's disappearance over twenty years ago. It seems that for the last twenty-four years, Nettles has been going state by state, hiring PIs to find his daughter and Hawaii was one of the last ones he had left. (So sad!) So whoever killed him must have had something to do with the kidnapping back in the day.

BeardedGuy takes Nettles to a deserted looking cabin, and Nettles gets suspicious. BeardedGuy pulls a gun and Nettles tackles him. They fight and Nettles almost wins, but BeardedGuy pistol whips him. Back at the Chatting Table they've pulled addresses from the GPS of Sampson's car, but none of them lived in Texas at time of Jennifer's disappearance. Steve is starting to look at things differently and asks what if Sampson was getting close to finding the girl and tipped the kidnapper off in the process? It's hard to believe that Jennifer might be still alive and on the island with kidnapper, but they run all the GPS addresses against DMV records to find women close to Jennifer's current age and up pops a picture of an Emily Henderson who was also in Sampson's computer. Compared against an FBI released age-progression pic, it's a match. And guess who else lives at that address? BeardedGuy! But he gave a false ID. His real name isn't Wade Henderson! Facial rec says he's Jesse Stolz who was arrested in Laredo, Texas. And BeardedGuy is currently pouring water over a beaten Nettles and yelling at him, asking who else knew he'd hired Sampson and was looking for his daughter in Hawaii? Nettles isn't cooperating and gets punched a few more times, pitifully asking how BeardedGuy could have taken her from him. (It's so sad!) BeardedGuy hears a car and it's HPD, so he quickly makes it a hostage standoff.

Steve arrives on scene, and BeardedGuy isn't talking or answering his phone. They end up calling the daughter to the scene to talk to her "dad." She is having a hard time comprehending what BeardedGuy did, since he raised her as his own daughter. Regardless, she tries to coax BeardedGuy out, but he says he can't, he's sorry. Then they hear a gunshot and they all move in to find that BeardedGuy has killed himself. (That daughter is going to have nightmares and guilt for years! Why call her in instead of a trained negotiator? Sigh. I guess it's just TV) The team does rescue the real dad and when Emily sees him, we flash back to the news conference where Nettles and his wife begged for info on their kidnapped daughter. There is crying and smiling. And probably lots of future counseling.

Back at HQ Tunior is talking about how BeardedGuy's wife and kid died in a car accident, so he kidnapped Emily to deal with his grief. They also talk about their "date" to the wedding, that Junior isn't offended she asked him as a friend and is looking forward to it. She offers not to make him dance since he probably wouldn't like it or be good at it and he says she's half right. Steve is walking around with the box of cat figurines, which he's found out is worth $10,000 since they're collectible. Of course, now Danny wants in. Steve reminds him that he gave them all to Steve and if they're worth that now, what would they be worth in fifteen or twenty years when he's ready to retire? Ricky has not found a home for Mr. Pickles and since Ricky gets out of the halfway house in four months, Steve suggests that Danny put him up until then with Steve paying for food and litter. Danny says no, because Rachel is allergic to cats. (Ohhhhh!) Steve gives him a look. (I love that Danchel seem to be getting back together.) Apparently Danny had a cat as a kid and in college, but he had to get rid of the college one because of Rachel's allergies. Ricky is all, you're thinking she's not going to stay your ex (which is what we're all thinking!) They end up taking Mr. Pickles to Steve's house where he and Eddie have a staredown. Danny throws it out there that if he's a cat, then Steve is a dog, friendly, loyal, loud, kind of dirty and stupid. Also that Steve once said that cats were superior animals. (Sigh. I wish they didn't have Danny say things like that.) Steve says he no longer has that philosophy, and that Danny as a cat is inflexible and set in his ways, yet they manage to get along. Mr. Pickles pauses the discussion by getting in Eddie's bowl. There's a fight and the last thing we hear is Steve yell for Eddie to put the cat down. (I wish Mr. Pickles and Eddie could get along. I wouldn't mind seeing Steve snuggling one of them every episode!) 

As you may have guessed, the best part of the show for me was Steve cuddling the cat. And maybe the suggestion that Rachel and Danny are getting closer. Close enough that he can't have a cat, anyway. Did you watch? What did you think?   

Friday, April 12, 2019

Freebie Friday for Romance Fans

I noticed that Laurie Lewis' heartwarming book, Love on a Limb is free today. This one will tug on your emotions!

You can get your free copy here

Here's the back copy:

Matthew Grayken is young, successful, and dying, which is why he’s about to propose to a total stranger. He isn’t interested in love. He needs a caregiver, a companion, and someone to be his legal voice when he can no longer speak for himself.

Lonely, compassionate nurse Mikaela Compton is intrigued by Matt Grayken’s tender request, but when their friendly marriage turns into love, she rejects the inevitability of Matt’s death and prays for a miracle instead.

Mikaela succeeds in reigniting Matt’s will to fight, but his body is losing the battle, and her determination to save him causes her to betray the fundamental promise she made him--to help him die.

Their last hope at saving Matt's life will require a sacrifice from each of them, and force them to decide how far out on a limb they're willing to go for love.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Second Look Was Reviewed in InD'Tale Magazine!

I was so thrilled to see a great review for Second Look in InD'Tale Magazine! My favorite part was:

"An edgy page-turner . . . the brisk pace, the likeable characters, and the intensity of the plot makes this story a quick, highly suspenseful thrill ride and will leave romantic suspense fans begging for more!"

Yay! Isn't that great? You can see the entire review here

Second Look is also a Whitney Award finalist for Best Suspense, and we'll find out if it wins on May 10th. I'll definitely keep you updated!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

In The Non-Fiction Corner: I Can Choose Joy (And A Giveaway!)

In the Non-Fiction Corner With Lauren

I feel like joy is something that is on everyone’s minds as they go through life. I know that it has been on mine. We are constantly told to be joyful, but it is difficult with all the things life throws at us. This book, compiled by Ganel-Lyn Condie, features many popular authors being honest and vulnerable as they talk about their life struggles and the joy they were still able to find. The book is split into five different subtopics, two stories featured in each. Every reader can relate to something said in the book, whether that is health challenges, marriage struggles, being single, or even just being completely unsure about what the future holds. Even though I sometimes find it hard to read about others' challenges, this book is so perfect because every story has a happy ending, even if the ending was that the person saw the Lord’s hand. There is a common thread in every story: trust. Every single person was able to trust in the Lord’s timing, and things worked out, even if it wasn’t how they originally thought it would.

My favorite story was a love story, told from both the husband’s and wife’s perspective. Betsy had never before been married, but she was improving herself, building a life and a career that she could be proud of, and bringing herself closer to the Savior. Darin, who seemed to have a picture perfect marriage and family, lost his marriage and didn’t know what to do with himself or his five children. A mutual friend of the two followed a prompting and they were set up. Because of their own personal preparation and through the help of the Lord, the couple saw many things they admired about each other and knew that they were a good match. They have built a wonderful life through uncertain circumstances.

This book is a remarkable read for anyone looking for a boost or good examples on how anyone can find joy.

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

Get your copy here

Here's the back copy:

When the trials of life seem too much to bear, joy can feel beyond reach. However, with words of encouragement and hope, author Ganel-Lyn Condie reassures readers that joy is not only possible but also well within our grasp as we choose to turn to the Lord with our burdens. The next in the popular With God series, I Can Choose Joy with God is a powerful compilation of essays written by women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that offers a compelling look at the struggles they faced and how they found joy even in their darkest hours. From parental concerns to financial hardships to debilitating anxiety, these personal accounts demonstrate the incomparable strength that can be harnessed through faith in a loving Heavenly Father. Though no one can avoid being tossed by the tempestuous sea of mortality, everyone can find true joy as they hold tight to the lifeline of salvation Jesus Christ provides.

Blog Tour Schedule:

*April 8th:,

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*April 12th:,

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Book Review: Romance Fans Will Love This One!

This past week I picked up a book, Love at Lakewood Med, by an author I'd never read before, TJ Amberson. The first chapter was a bit hard for me to get into, but I kept with it and I'm so glad I did! I loved this story. It's about a fourth year medical student, Savannah Drake, who gets paired with her attending, Wes Kent for her emergency medicine rotation. Dr. Kent has been trying for years to get funding for a better emergency department wing, but his pleas have fallen on deaf ears. Savannah is sure she's going to specialize in pediatrics, but while on her emergency department rotation, things start to change for her personally and professionally. But when lines are crossed and Wes might lose everything he's worked for, Savannah has to decide if she can risk her own career or lose a chance at love.

There were so many things to love about this book. There's a medical aspect where Savannah is learning and she makes some mistakes. I loved that she wasn't a perfect heroine and it made it easy to relate to her. I also love that she cares so much about her patients and there was a wide variety of cases in the ER (which made it feel very realistic.) Most of all, I loved Dr. Wes Kent. He's so believable and protective and sweet. Everything I want in a hero. The slow romance build was well-done and I admit I stayed up late to finish the book and went back and read my favorite parts the next day. That doesn't happen very often for me! I will definitely be looking for more by this author. (I really hope she does a sequel with the best friend and we can find out more about what happens with Wes and Savannah!)

You can get your copy here

Here's the back copy:

Savannah Drake would be thrilled about starting her final year of medical school if it weren’t for one thing: she has to spend a month working in the emergency room with cold, aloof Dr. Wesley Kent as her mentor. When her first day in the ER proves to be a humiliating disaster, Savannah is ready to swear off emergency medicine forever. Gradually, though, she finds that the unpredictable, emotional experience of caring for patients in the emergency room is affecting her far differently than she expected—and Dr. Kent turns out to be anything but the arrogant attending physician that she assumed him to be. But just when Savannah finally admits to herself that she is falling for Dr. Kent, she learns that things at the hospital are not all what they seem. Faced with a seemingly impossible choice, Savannah must decide between her future career and everything that she has come to care so much about.