Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Preorder My New Novella!

My new novella, Forget Me Not, comes out June 15th and you can preorder it today for only .99 cents! I'm so excited for this one. It's a companion novella that takes place following Pocket Full of Posies that will tell you a little more of what happened after Bart and Lucy came home.

Here's the back copy:

After reconnecting with Lucy Aguayo on an undercover mission to Colombia, Bart Gutierrez can't imagine his life without her now. Exploring their new relationship has him thinking of love and marriage, but before they can move forward, their dangerous past comes back to haunt them. Can they face it together or will it tear them apart?

Lucy has been undercover for five years and her new "normal" life takes some getting used to. Bart and his family have welcomed her with open arms and just as she starts to believe her newfound happiness isn't going to be snatched away, government agents show up unannounced and give her an ultimatum---do one last operation for us or you won't like the consequences.

Everything doesn't go as planned, however, and soon both of their lives are on the line. Can they survive the mission and put the past behind them once and for all, in order to have the future they've always wanted?

You can download your copy at the special preorder price here

Monday, May 30, 2016

Book Review & Giveaway!

First of all, I hope you're having a wonderful holiday weekend! I'm grateful we have a chance to step back and remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Never forgotten!

Today I am excited because my daughter, Lauren Bellon is an amazing historian, and today's book, How Four Feet of Plywood Saved the Grand Canyon, by Jerry Borrowman is definitely historical, so I thought it would be fun to have her do a guest review from a historian's perspective.

"When I first encountered the title of this book, I thought that I wasn't necessarily very interested in plywood or the history of the Grand Canyon. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this book covers a variety of topics throughout history and presents them in a way that can even make Yellowstone an absorbing read. The author does a great job of combining narrative, quotes, and personal experience to create a book that the most amateur of historians can enjoy. Jerry Borrowman demonstrates a vast knowledge in his writing, especially a geographical knowledge, and you can definitely tell he has a love for what he is writing about. After almost every story, he writes about his experience with the event or how it became interesting to him. It makes the reader think of historical events in their life and how it has impacted them and learn from Borrowman's first person point of view.

My favorite story was the early career of Abraham Lincoln and the case that put him in position to run for the president of the United States of America. We are all familiar with stories of Honest Abe, but honestly I had never thought about his career before his presidential campaign. His rise to fame makes you appreciate him even more as a person, as Borrowman highlights things that make him an even more likeable man.

The church historian inside me was waiting the whole book for an LDS shoutout, and I was finally satisfied when the author wrote about the Mormons and the transcontinental railroad. He highlights Brigham Young and the history of the saints as he discusses their help in the huge project that caused celebrations all over the country.

After reading this book, I can't wait to awe my friends and family with little known facts and stories. If your inner geography or geology buff is looking for is looking for its next thrilling read, look no further."

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

You can buy your copy here

Here's the back copy:

History turns on small points. From the world’s most catastrophic game of chicken to the nail-biting success story at the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River, discover fascinating events you’ve probably never heard of. In this compilation of eight true stories from the forgotten pages of history, learn about disasters caused by human error as well as calamities avoided by quick and clever thinking—the lawsuit that launched Abraham Lincoln’s political career, the collapse of the Teton Dam, the invention that revolutionized the world of sound, and more. This book is truly love at first sight for lovers of history.

Here is the blog tour schedule so you can see what everyone else is saying!

 May 30th: http://mybookaday.blogspot.com/, http://www.rockinbookreviews.com/, http://ldswritermom.blogspot.com/

May 31st: http://ldsandlovinit.blogspot.com/, http://empowermoms.net/, http://www.wishfulendings.com/

June 1st:http://rachellewrites.blogspot.com/, http://sweetlymadejustforyou.com/blog/

June 2nd:http://thethingsilovemost.com/, http://literarytimeout.blogspot.com/

June 3rd: http://bonnieharris.blogspot.com/, http://www.singinglibrarianbooks.com/index.html

Friday, May 27, 2016

Freebie Friday

Today's Freebie Friday is a fun romantic novella by Lindzee Armstrong called First Love, Second Choice. For a light afternoon read, this is the story for you!

Here's the back copy:

What happens when you impersonate your identical twin sister to score a date with your long-lost high school crush?

When wedding planner Keslee gets asked on a date by her long-lost high school crush, Bryce, everything should be perfect. But Bryce mistakes Keslee for her deceased twin sister, Jadyn. And Keslee doesn’t correct him. Talk about awkward. To make matters worse, she learns they’ll be seeing a lot more of each other because Bryce is the marketing director at the venue where Keslee’s new client has chosen to get married. Keslee knows the charade can’t last much longer, and fears she’ll lose Bryce forever when she tells him the truth.

A sweet and clean contemporary romance novella from the Amazon bestselling Sweet and Sassy Anthology: Hidden Identities collection, now with a never-before-seen bonus epilogue!

Download your free Kindle copy here

Thursday, May 26, 2016

My Eagle Scout

I've been celebrating today because my fifth son earned his Eagle! Woohoo! Less than 4% of scouts earn that honor and I am so happy my son was motivated enough to do it.

I love the Scouting program and what it's done for my boys. I love watching them try new things as they earn badges and learn that the strength they have inside them will serve them well. 

My older boys who have earned their Eagle have been able to put that honor on their job applications and been able to shepherd other boys toward reaching that goal. They joined an elite group and it's been an accomplishment they can feel good about through their lives. I'm glad they can look back on it and be proud of themselves, because it's not easy! 

So, yay for the Scouting program! And yay for my newly minted Eagle!

Can you tell I'm a proud mom tonight? 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

What I'm Reading Wednesday--I'MPossible

I received this book I'MPossible by Jeff Griffin and I have to confess, I haven't been able to put it down. It starts out with the author looking out over Mount Everest and thinking about his challenges and how we all have our disabilities, whether they be something the eye can see or not. Then we find out how he was paralyzed during a summer job and how much his life changed---and how his attitude changed. I can't even imagine going through what he did and yet, it put him on a course that wouldn't have otherwise been possible.

The author has an easy writing style and doesn't sugar coat the truth. There is so much more to his story than simply encouraging others to keep trying. Mr. Griffin is coming from a place of learning because of his experiences and he shares in a non-preachy way how his challenges can relate to you and help you overcome your own.

This story is engaging and one I know I will read over the invitations and commitments again to apply them in my own personal journey. I think you'll really enjoy this one as well.

You can get your copy here

Here's the back copy:

The sun's rays filtered in from the partially opened shades of the plane. They lit up the world in front of me and warmed my soul, knowing I was almost to my destination. The beautiful golden light replaced the grey and hazy cobwebs from my eyes, revealing the most spectacular scene I had ever seen in my entire life. I looked out the small seven-inch window and witnessed something that I'll never forget! I beheld something in this magnificent world that the majority of people never get to see. I was looking out at Mount Everest, the world's highest peak!

I was at the tail end of a three-flight journey with two layovers in between, nearly logging twenty-four hours of flight time. I hadn't gotten any real sleep in the last thirty-six hours. My bloodshot eyes were heavy, my mind was slow and sluggish, and my body was even slower in response. How did I get here? I thought to myself. Am I d-r-e-a-m-i-n-g?

As Lao and Confucius once said, “A journey of one-thousand miles begins with one step.” My story is about inspiring you to take your own journey one step at a time. It's about dreaming and accomplishing the impossible. It's not only about aiming for the sky and reaching for the stars but enjoying the journey along the way.

Begin your personal journey today, press forward to the top, and don't you ever stop. As you move toward your dreams, there will be obstacles and setbacks along the way; don't be afraid. You can get to the top of your world by following the signs and guide posts within these pages. You can do it with others! You can do it with me! We can do it together, one step at a time!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

How I Did A Cookie Monster Baby Shower

Last Saturday I threw a Cookie Monster baby shower and it turned out so cute I thought I'd share it with you!

First, we started off with the invitations. Isn't this adorable?

I had it made from Jill's Creative Creations. You can see her website here

I also used her to make the thank you gifts. I put this adorable chocolate bar sticker around a Cookies and Creme bar to make it extra special!

I had so much fun with the decorations! I did Cookie Monster blue and gold crepe paper down the window, then after I'd fluffed out the crepe paper balls, I glued on googly eyes to make them monster-ish.

I had my local bakery make up this fun Cookie Monster cake. The toppers are a rattle and teething ring that the new mom-to-be can use!

And for fun, we had little monster cupcakes made up to add to the ambiance.

We had a cookie bar of Fudge cookies, Snickers cookies, Rolo cookies and Dipped cookies with chocolate chip as well. The little bouquet in the back is just cut out Cookie Monster wrapping paper for the image, then gluing on the mat and frame of cardstock paper on the back for color and form. I used Cookie Crisp cereal for the base inside the bouquet. 

You can see the Cookie Crisp cereal better in this shot with the Cookie Monster images on skewers for theme. This is also where I had the thank you gifts as well as index cards for guests to write their new mommy advice.

For another fun decoration, I did the crepe paper balls with googly eyes.

I did a light luncheon of Chicken Salad Croissants with vegetable and fruit salads and lemon water. I did have blue lemonade later on to go with the theme, but it isn't shown here.

(If you want a super easy Chicken Croissant recipe, this is the one I used. It was so good!)

Here's a shot of both tables.

Here's my gift table centerpiece. 

We also did homemade napkin holders. We used Cookie Monster stickers in the middle of the paper and they turned out wonderful! Click here for the napkin holder template we used.

It was such a fun shower to put together, and so easy!  

Monday, May 23, 2016

Book Review: 523 Ways To Be Awesome

I wasn't exactly sure what to expect when I picked up 523 Ways To Be Awesome by Kathryn Thompson, but I liked the Drops Of Awesome post the author did on her blog a long time ago, (you can read that here) so I wanted to read the "follow-up" if you will.

It starts out with a fun introduction to the Drops of Awesome concept. That sometimes, when we are doing good things, we beat ourselves up that we should be doing more. That's when we apply the Drops of Awesome concept and focus on the positive---the little drops of awesome that make up our Bucket of Awesome. Then, when we realize our awesomeness, it will also increase at a rate that will surprise us.

The author tells us twenty Feats Of Awesome she would like to accomplish in her life and the rest of the book is going through each of those Feats and breaking it down into drops. For example, one of her feats is to achieve world peace. That's a pretty tall order. But when you break it down into drops, like stopping to just "be" sometimes. Or to speak softly, let someone else be right, and so on. Just small little drops of awesome that will lead to peace. Maybe not world peace, but peace in your world. I loved that idea!

There are a lot more Drops of Awesome that can lead to Feats of Awesome like invent a technology, win an Olympic medal, arrest a criminal and more. And the author's ideas were fun and doable. And that's the thing--sometimes I am contributing to my Bucket of Awesome, but discount it because it wasn't big enough. This book reminds me that I can count all those drops and it's going to lead me to a more positive place in my life. So many voices in our society today are negative and loud and this is a book that quiets those with positivity and a quiet assurance that I am enough. I thoroughly enjoyed the reminder.

This is a quick read and one that you can glance at and make personal goals from to fill your own Bucket of Awesome.

You can get your copy here:

Here's the back copy:

Have you ever wanted to write a symphony, explore the galaxy, or save a life? With 523 Ways to Be Awesome, you will learn how you are already doing those and other amazing things . . . a bit . . . and how you can do them a bit more, one Drop of Awesome at a time. For example, you may not achieve “world peace,” but you can:

Choose to forgive.
Let someone merge in front of you.
Listen when you really want to talk.

Based on the viral blog post that inspired Drops of Awesome: The You’re-More-Awesome-Than-You-Think Journal (2014), this book is for anyone who listens to the negative voice inside her head, telling her she’s not good enough and that her best efforts are insufficient. Author and blogger Kathryn Thompson returns with her signature wit and wisdom intact to help readers keep tally of the small victories that mean everything in life and discover their inner AWESOME

Friday, May 20, 2016

Friday Freebie

Today's Friday Freebie is a contemporary romance that you won't be able to put down! It's Prejudice Meets Pride by Rachael Anderson. I really loved this book and reviewed it last year. You can see that review here This is one you'll want to curl up with this weekend.

Here's the back copy:

After years of pinching pennies and struggling to get through art school, Emma Makie’s hard work finally pays off with the offer of a dream job. But when tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to make a cross-country move to Colorado Springs to take temporary custody of her two nieces. She has no money, no job prospects, and no idea how to be a mother to two little girls, but she isn’t about to let that stop her. Nor is she about to accept the help of Kevin Grantham, her handsome neighbor, who seems to think she’s incapable of doing anything on her own.

Prejudice Meets Pride is the story of a guy who thinks he has it all figured out and a girl who isn't afraid to show him that he doesn't. It’s about learning what it means to trust, figuring out how to give and to take, and realizing that not everyone gets to pick the person they fall in love with. Sometimes, love picks them.

You can download your free Kindle copy here 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Cover Reveal For Forget Me Not!

So many of you have emailed to ask me when the companion novella for Pocket Full of Posies is coming out and I'm so excited to announce it will be released June 15th! Here's the cover:

Don't you love it? I do!

Here's a little bit about the novella that takes place a month after Pocket Full of Posies ended:

Bart and Lucy have returned from Colombia and are rekindling their romance, but not everything is as it seems and they're pulled back in for one last undercover operation. Can they put the past behind them once and for all in order to have the future they've always wanted?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

What I'm Reading Wedneday

I just started the third installment to the Wedding Planner mysteries by Rachelle Christensen called Proposals and Poison. I really enjoyed the first two books in the series and have been looking forward to this one. I love the romance going on with Luke and Adri and hope this one gives us some more swoon-worthy moments!

If you haven't read this series, you should. Adri Pyper is a wedding planner, but murder and mayhem seem to follow her wherever she goes. This time, her client is murdered and Adri is pretty sure the police are looking at the wrong guy. She's asked to stay out of it, but clues just keep falling into her lap and really, what's a girl to do?

I'm just at a good part where Luke is cooking dinner for her and she needs to tell him what she's been up to. I really like him as a hero. The mystery has been good, with a few twists that are keeping me guessing. Lots of red herrings! I love the secondary cast of characters like Tony, the detective investigating the case and dating Adri's wedding planner assistant, Lorea. And Lorea is a solid character in her own right, giving Adri the best friend/partner/we-know-we-shouldn't-do-this-but-we'll-do-it-anyway person that every amateur sleuth needs.  There are definitely some laugh out loud moments as they all try to "help" Adri out of the scrapes she gets herself into.

This has been a fun series and the third book is looking pretty good to me! I'll let you know how I like the ending. (And it could be read stand-alone, but you get more background on the characters if you have read the other two books in the series.)

**Edited to add, I loved the ending! You'll definitely close the book with a smile.

You can get your own copy here for $2.99

Here's the back copy:

Love can be a very dangerous thing.
At least it seems that way to Adri Pyper, the premier wedding planner in Sun Valley, Idaho. When one of her clients dies mysteriously, Adri takes the advice of the local detective and swears she will stay out of the investigation . . . this time. Luke Stetson's involvement in the case, along with the possibility of a kiss between the two, should be enough incentive to keep Adri out of trouble. But when a dog-themed wedding is almost ruined by a suspect, Adri and her assistant, Lorea, are thrust into private eye mode. When poison enters the picture, even a reluctant sleuth can’t steer clear of danger.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

My Last Castle Recap & Thoughts On The Series Finale

I have so many things running through my head after watching that series finale. So. Many. Things.

The episode begins with that guy from Galaxy Quest who played Teb singing along to the Brady Bunch's big hit Sunshine Day. He gets out and starts dousing the car with gasoline, then opens the trunk and asks the person in the trunk, "Don't you just love this song?" Then he lights up the car and burns that person alive. Ew.

Cut back to the silly LokSat case where it's time to go to the place where LokSat will call the phone Caleb Brown gave Beckett. They have Vikram in a truck nearby ready to trace the call. Beckett and Castle have a little moment by the tree where they are making bets as to who LokSat is. The yogi in the park? The lady who looks like Castle's ex-wife? It was cute.The call comes in and it's too short for Vikram to trace, but the voice gives instructions for Caleb to meet LokSat's accountant. Since they didn't get the trace they wanted, Caskett decides to go to the drop and meet the accountant. I have a bad feeling about this.

They enlist Hayley's help as a sniper, and Vikram as their eyes. Caleb is late, and when someone finally does come in, Espo inconveniently calls Beckett to tell her the burned guy in the trunk had the DNA of Caleb Brown on the briefcase that survived the inferno. Well, if Caleb is dead in the trunk, who is that at the drop? It's a trap.

Before Beckett can blink, an army of bad guys descends and starts shooting at Caskett. Hayley takes out some of them, but it's not looking good. Suddenly, a taco truck races in and rescues them. It's Mason from the Detective's club in California. Yeah. Weird. He says he owed Rita, Castle's stepmother, a favor so he's babysitting them. He gives Caskett access to more guns and sends them on their way. My thought was, why aren't they more concerned that they left Hayley to fend for herself?

They decide that they all have targets on their backs now, so Castle is going to go get Martha and Alexis to the safe room at the PI agency and Beckett is going to go get Vikram? (It struck me so weird that she was putting herself out there for Vikram when he's a grown man and a phone call away, but okay.)  Her dad is away on business, so he's all good. Castle isn't happy that they aren't sticking together and Beckett tries to reassure him. They say a sweet goodbye and I love you. (One of the best scenes of the whole episode. *sniffle*)

Castle goes to his office and two armed guards are there. They aren't going to kidnap him, Hayley hired them to protect Martha and Alexis. He goes to the safe room and explains everything, just as Beckett is explaining things to Espo and Ryan since Vikram let the cat out of the bag. Castle calls Kate, wondering where she is and she tells him she's staying at the precinct. He wants to come down there then, but they both decide they're safer right where they are. Kate promises not to leave the precinct and Castle promises to stay in the safe room. Yeah, that won't last long.

The team gets a clue on where creepy Galaxy Quest guy went and Ryan and Espo head out, leaving Kate behind. Surprisingly, she stays in the precinct per her promise to watch it remotely. The guys go in, but the house is empty. They were tricked. But where is creepy Galaxy Quest guy?

Castle has decided he needs to be with Kate no matter what so he takes a taxi to the precinct. Because, you know, when there's a target on your back, a taxi in New York is totally fine. But guess who is driving and playing that Brady Bunch song? Yep. We found creepy Galaxy Quest guy. Castle is kidnapped. Again. He comes to and he's strapped to a funky looking metal table torture thing that can be upright or lie down. Creepy Galaxy Quest guy questions him about his love for Kate,whether she's a weakness, etc. Castle declares his love for her, that she's unlike anyone he's ever known. She challenges him, makes him laugh. *le sigh* It was so sweet!

Creepy Galaxy Quest guy isn't impressed and hooks Castle up to truth serum and says that within the hour everyone who knows about LokSat will be dead. Which is pretty much the entire cast at this point and everyone Castle loves. When LokSat finally comes in to finish the questioning, we are not surprised to see it's Mason. It was so obvious he was the bad guy, not only from Beckett's instincts, but there was no other reason for him to be in the episode. But, whatever. He uses the truth serum to force Castle to tell him everyone who knows about LokSat. Beckett. Martha. Alexis. Ryan. Esposito. (Although it didn't make sense that Castle knew Ryan and Esposito had been told since Beckett had told them on her own at the precinct, but okay.) Castle has tears running down his face as he knows they will all be killed now. It is a powerful scene, great acting by Nathan Fillion.

Of course Kate knows nothing about this and when she gets a call from Mason who says he knows a guy who can help her identify LokSat, she insists on coming with him. He picks her up and starts talking to her about Castle. "You have quite a bond," Mason says. "He's the love of my life," she tells him. Awww.

Even though Ryan and Esposito don't know where Beckett is, they keep working the case. Vikram cross-references cell phone calls from creepy Galaxy Quest guy and narrows it down to an address. It's a CIA blacksite, but Ryan and Espo storm it anyway and take it by force. Espo gets the guard to tell him where the creepy guy is and they save Castle just as he's about to be poisoned. But, they are under siege again, with all kinds of guns shooting at them from their only way out. There's no way to find out where Mason has taken Beckett. Or is there?

Castle turns the table on creepy guy (literally) and gets him on the torture table to stick the truth serum in his arm. He finds out there's an incinerator in the basement and that's where they're headed with Beckett. But how can he get there? Castle breaks through a flimsy wall with a fire extinguisher and heads to the basement.

Beckett totally has Mason's number, though, and when he walks her into the room, she pulls her gun on him. When she orders him to put his gun on the ground, however, he activates a magnet that pulls Beckett's metal gun to the ceiling. He's got the upper hand and tells Beckett that Castle is dead and in the incinerator. She doesn't believe him and Castle shows up with a gun in hand to prove him wrong. Unfortunately, it's also magnetized to the ceiling. That distraction is just enough, though, so Beckett can beat Mason unconscious. (It doesn't take much, really, and LokSat turned out to be a lightweight sissy. Why was everyone afraid of him?)

Caskett embraces and they head back to the precinct. The guys are going to go out for a drink and celebrate and invite Vikram and Laney. Laney gives Beckett a hug before she goes and Kate looks over at Castle embracing Martha and Alexis. It was a cute scene, but if *I* were writing this episode, I would have had Laney confirming a pregnancy test for Beckett, then her looking happily over at Castle and Martha and Beckett. Wouldn't that have been awesome? Sigh.

Martha and Alexis oddly disappear and our next scene is back at the loft. Beckett feels like she could sleep for a week and Castle goes to make her breakfast. She says she loves it when he makes her breakfast and he starts the burner. He stares at it and says, "why did they burn Caleb in a car when they had an incinerator," but before he can really finish the thought, Caleb comes out of nowhere saying, "I told Mason you'd figure it out," and shoots Castle in the chest. Beckett comes out of the bedroom and shoots Caleb, but not before he fires a round into her abdomen. Castle and Beckett, all bloody, crawl to each other on the kitchen floor and hold hands.

But this is not the end! They pan through an empty loft with the voice-overs from the end of the pilot episode where Castle asks her out on a date and she turns him down, then we see SEVEN YEARS LATER across the screen. Beckett is trying to wrangle their three kids to the table, laughing and having fun as Castle is smiling at them all. So, we get our happy ending after all as Castle's voice comes on, "Every writer needs inspiration. And I've found mine. Always."  Let's just enjoy that whole scene for just a second before we start to actually think it through, shall we? (It's all over Youtube if you haven't seen it.)

Look at them. They're so happy!

But when you start to look at the ridiculous LokSat mess with that ending, for me, it didn't make a lot of sense. Why have Caleb come back at all? Was he Loksat? Or the right hand man? If he wasn't LokSat when did he turn back to the dark side? If he was, how would someone like him have the kind of connections LokSat supposedly did in the CIA that went around killing a lot of people? Why would Castle want to forget LokSat from his missing time? How did any of this convoluted disaster trace back to Kate's mom and Sen. Bracken? There are no answers, of course, and so many plot holes that just don't add up to any kind of satisfactory conclusion. Oh well, I guess.

There were some solid Caskett moments that made me happy. Their chemistry is what brought me back every week, and I'm glad we got to see the whole team one more time as they went off to celebrate, and of course, the final moments of the happy Castle family. Maybe that's why the shooting was so jarring in the middle of all of that. It was unnecessary from my standpoint, but I heard online that actually was going to be Kate's death scene, so even though the happy ending seemed tacked on and rushed, I'm glad Kate is not dead.

SO . ..  if it were me editing this series finale, I would have cut the entire shooting and just had Beckett saying she loves how he makes her breakfast, then the voice-overs of their first meeting, then the flashforward to them with their kids. It would have been so much sweeter for someone like me who has watched from day one to have their love story end like that. Oh well. Maybe I'll just pretend that last season's finale of them all around the table while Castle gave that awesome speech was the series finale with that last thirty seconds of the Castle family at the breakfast table tacked on.

Overall, it was a series finale that should have been at least a two hour show, but it had its high points amid the bizarre. I really am sad to see this show go, but at least it ended happily. Rushed, and a limping a little, but happy.

Did you watch? What did you think?

Monday, May 16, 2016

Book Review and Giveaway for Pride and Politics

I was excited to be part of the blog tour for Brittany Larsen's debut novel, Pride and Politics. I met Brittany at a writer's conference years ago, where I was a mentor, helping new writers with their first pages. I thought she had so much talent then, and I am thrilled to see all her hard work pay off with her book being published!

Pride and Politics is a modern re-telling of Pride and Prejudice, but with several twists. It's set in a political hotbed of rival Republican and Democratic views mingled with how members of the LDS church view and support different social issues. I was surprised at some of the issues covered, but never uncomfortable. I thought the political side was rather well done, considering how hard it is to walk a fine line with readers from all backgrounds and political persuasions. And sometimes when you read books, you can put yourself in another person's point of view and think, yeah, I can see that. There is no preaching or leaning toward one political party or another, but there's just enough of each side that it provides an additional spark to the story.

Summer Knight is the daughter of a Democratic senator who has been vocal about his opinions regarding his Republican counterparts. He won a hotly contested re-election campaign, but Summer lost a bit of faith when some of her fellow members did things that hurt her sense of what's right and wrong. She's taking a break from the church to figure things out when she meets Benson Hardy. He's tall, dark, and handsome, but also the nephew of the Republican candidate running for president who doesn't have a lot of regard for her father. Being thrown together by their best friends falling in love takes them on a journey with a lot of ups and downs and a few sharp turns.

I really enjoyed the banter and misunderstandings between them because Summer's point of view is so strong and her personality made her so relatable. I thought the author did a great job with the secondary characters as well, making them all feel like they could be your friends. The other exceptional character was the hero, Benson. He has such a strong sense of honor and protectiveness, almost to a fault, but the reader can totally understand his motivations and love him anyway. He is vulnerable at all the right times and still maintains his sigh-worthiness when he takes matters into his own hands. Every reader will be rooting for them to get their happily-ever-after!

Obviously, if you've read Pride and Prejudice, you know how the story will go, but the author includes quite a few unexpected twists, putting her own stamp on a familiar storyline. It was a fun afternoon read!

Don't forget to scroll down and enter the giveaway! (And just FYI tomorrow is the last day to enter my giveaway. See the sidebar and win some really great prizes!)

You can get your copy here

Here's the back copy:

As the daughter of a well-known senator, Summer Knight is all too familiar with the nasty side of politics. She’s always stayed out of the drama, until an incident involving her fellow Mormons drives her out of her hometown—and out of the Church. What she needs is a change of scene, and sunny California seems like just the place.

Enter Benson Hardy. He’s just her type—until she finds out who he is. Not only is Benson a nephew to her father’s political rival, he’s also a devout member of the Church. The last thing Summer wants is to be mixed up in politics—or religion. But Benson challenges her like no one else, asking the tough questions about her inactivity. Though their incompatibility is clear, their connection is undeniable, and soon Summer finds the embers of her faith reigniting. Just as it seems that the pair might be on the road to romance, a series of embarrassing misunderstandings—and the appearance of a handsome charmer determined to sweep Summer off her feet—knock the couple completely off course. As Summer finds herself at a crossroads, she must decide if she’s willing to set her pride aside for a shot at true love.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Freebie Friday

Today's Freebie Friday is a women's fiction by Rachel Branton called House Without Lies. I've read one of the other books in the series, Your Eyes Don't Lie, and enjoyed it and this one looks good as well!

Here's the back copy:

Her Dream Didn’t Include Falling in Love

Lily dreams of a big house, a place of refuge for runaway girls. She knows what it’s like to grow up feeling unloved, and she now fills every space in her tiny apartment with endangered teens. They don’t have everything they need, but together they have enough.

Or so she thinks—until she meets Jameson and glimpses the mysterious something between them that just might mean real love.

Jameson, who works as a teen counselor, believes the only way Lily can really help the girls is by certifying as a foster parent and going through the system. But becoming legitimate may mean losing some of the girls to the families who threw them away, and Lily hasn’t worked hard to save the teens only to abandon them now.

It seems Jameson will be one more entry on the very long list of things Lily has given up for the girls. What other choice is there when she is all they have?

When two of the teens’ fathers come looking for them, and another one’s mother plans to put her daughter in danger, Lily’s life spins out of control. They need a new home—and fast. A safe place. A house without lies.

Editorial note: House Without Lies is a clean, contemporary romance with a satisfying ending (no cliffhanger). There are currently two sequels that tell the stories of other characters connected with Lily’s House: Tell Me No Lies and Your Eyes Don’t Lie. Another novel and several novellas are in the works.

Download your free Kindle copy here 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The First Captain Reviews!

Release week for a new book is always a nerve-wracking time for me. I wonder how people will respond to the story I've spent months crafting. I wonder if anyone will buy it. As you all know, The Captain released this week and so far it's been awesome! It cracked the top 200 paid books on Amazon and the reviews are starting to trickle in. Woohoo!

Here are my top two reviews so far:

Katie's Clean Book Collection

My favorite part of Katie's Clean Book Collection review was this line:

"This is a fast-paced and intense book that was over before I knew it and had me on the edge of my seat the whole time."

You can see their entire review here. And then happy dance with me!

Getting Your Read On

Getting Your Read On said so many wonderful things. I think this was my favorite line:

"This book has awesome pacing- never a dull or droopy moment. I love that."

You can see their entire review and everything else they thought about the book here

So, thank you so much to everyone who has entered the giveaway, bought the book, and shared their thoughts. You are much appreciated!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Just For Fun--What's One Thing You Don't Eat?

Have you entered my awesome giveaway? If not, click the pic in the sidebar. Time is running out!

I've been working hard today and so, I thought we'd kick back and have a little fun getting to know each other better. So, tell me, what's one thing you don't eat? For me, it's olives. *shiver* Yucky. Your turn!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Should-Have-Been-A-Halloween-Episode of Castle

Well, I don't really know what to say about this episode of Castle. They did the spooky music opening, they had an axe-wielding man break into Castle's PI office during a blackout while Alexis and Hayley are there in cocktail dresses.(What was that all about? Weird.) Anyway, it was totally a Halloween episode. In May.

Alexis presses a panic button so Caskett knows to head down there. The entire city is in a blackout and so there's not a lot of lights, phones, etc. The team beats them there and they explain to Castle that a guy named Gabriel escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane. Apparently, Gabriel tried to kill an entire family twenty years ago and was hospitalized. But after his escape, he was stabbed, by a claw, and there was sulfur in the wound, so Castle concludes a demon killed him.

The boys head over to the mental hospital where they find out the head guy knew Gabriel had escaped and sent some orderlies to find him. Gabriel had stolen one of the orderlies key card and oddly, that orderly never came back. Castle finds a Bible with a lot of demons drawn in its pages in a really gross, rodent-infested vent in the room. Ew.

Before they can chastise the head guy further for not calling the police in sooner, Lanie tells them she found some weird stuff on the body. She gets them down there and shows them scriptures and symbols drawn on Gabriel's body. Weird. They also get footage of the one visitor that Gabriel had, but it's kind of blurry.

The team tracks down the missing orderly who admits that he saw Gabriel coming out of a church, but since Gabriel knew the orderly was selling the patients' meds, he let the guy go. A dead end there, but they do find out that the PI who had been investigating the family that Gabriel tried to kill twenty years ago had an office right where Castle's is now. And the safe inside isn't Castle's, so it was probably his! Dun, dun, dun. They break in and it's a satanic lair, with all the darkness you can imagine. Um, how did real estate agents, inspectors, and/or insurance people miss that a giant room was in this building?And it's a fire hazard to boot.

Thinking that Gabriel thought the end of days was coming in two days, they contact the family of the PI who used to have Castle's office. His wife and son don't know anything, they claim. In the lair, there's a bunch of pictures and information on the only son of the family Gabriel tried to kill named Victor, so they go visit him. He's a philanthropist, helping people get clean water around the world and doesn't seem sad Gabriel is dead since his parents died soon after the murder attempt. Castle believes Gabriel thought Victor could be the anti-christ.

Lanie figures out exactly what the markings were made of on Gabriel's body and it matches a recipe found in the lair. That leads them all to a guy named Carl. They go to his apartment and find Carl's son there who admits he painted all the stuff on Gabriel. He'll sell anything to people looking for "blessed" or religious items. Nothing to see here.

The surveillance footage they get on Gabriel's stabbing is flickering because of the blackout, so it looks like Gabriel is actually stabbed by a demon, fueling Castle's obsession with it. Castle also believes he's been marked for death since he sees a flare in every picture and video of himself now. He's searching around on the internet for how to kill the anti-christ and finds an article that says you have to have the angel dagger, which he saw in the lair. He goes there alone, leaving his trained and competent wife at home in the dark. Literally. (Has he learned nothing?) He's talking to her on the phone, explaining his actions, when shockingly someone has followed him there. Castle goes toward the person (again, doesn't he know by now not to do that?) and gets knocked out for his trouble.

A gray SUV is found on surveillance tapes and they trace that back to the PI's wife who admits to stabbing Gabriel with her garden claw, but nothing else. The blurry mental hospital visitor pic is cleaned up and it's Carl's son. They track him to Victor's office, knowing he's going to finish the job Gabriel started in killing the "anti-christ" of Victor. Of course all the security and police go off in the wrong direction and Castle finds Victor tied to a table about to be killed. Castle saves the day and Carl's son is killed when he backs into a load of pipes that fall on him. Victor thanks Castle and says he owes him and Castle thinks he might have made a deal with the devil.

Back home at the loft Beckett is enjoying scaring Castle and playing some pranks on him. (She did tell him he wasn't marked for death, the flare was a zipper on his coat.) The whole episode felt a bit off with Beckett barely on and I'm sad there's only one more episode left with Stana Katic.

So, a spooky episode, Beckett-lite, and heavy on the supernatural ramblings of Castle as he solves the case. (I really, really miss when it was more of a team effort, but those days are definitely over.)

Did you watch? What did you think?

Monday, May 9, 2016

Book Review & Two Giveaways!

I'm excited to be part of the blog tour for Karen Tuft's new book, The Earl's Betrothal.

The Hargreaves family has been in deep mourning. The heir to the Marquessate, the Earl of Halford, has been killed in a horseback riding accident. His father has had a heart attack over the news. And then the final blow came when the youngest son, Anthony, is declared to be a casualty of war. It seems the family will never truly recover from their misfortunes.

But then, there's a knock on the door, and Anthony is there, returned from the dead. He'd been shot and in the weeks it took to nurse him back to health, he was erroneously reported dead. But now he's back and his family is overjoyed. Anthony is glad to be back with his family, but he is still haunted by what happened to him in the war and he wonders if he could ever be truly happy or feel peace. And then he meets his mother's paid companion, Amelia Clarke.  He's drawn to her, but knows it can never be. Until an unforeseen event forces them together. Can they truly find love? Or will misunderstandings and the gossip-wagging elite of the ton always be between them?

I really enjoyed this author's writing style. This was my first book that I've read of hers and I thought she did a great job with the depth of characters and really giving them layers. The tortured hero, Anthony, was very sympathetic and easy to love and Amelia seemed his perfect match. I loved that they were both insecure at heart, but with each other, found strength even in the most trying of circumstances. The setting was true to the period and allowed the reader to get lost in the societal rules and restrictions of the time while not losing the emotion of the story. There was a little mystery that was solved right at the end that felt rushed and confusing in its explanation (I had to read it twice and I'm still not sure if I actually got it) and the villain didn't receive the punishment I would have wished, but the love story is where the author really shone in her talent and readers will close the book with a sigh of happiness. Karen Tuft books will definitely be on my to-buy list in the future!

Click here to buy your copy!

And be sure to scroll down to enter the giveaway for The Earl's Betrothal blog tour!

(And have you entered my giveaway for a $30 Amazon gift card, a Book Lovers book basket, or a four book set of my Hostage Negotiation books? If not, here's your chance!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway 
Here's the back copy for The Earl's Betrothal:

Out of the war and into another, Captain Lord Anthony Hargreaves finds the politics of romance to be as uninviting a battle as the one that nearly cost him his life in Badajoz, Spain.

Wounded both mentally and physically from the Peninsular War in 1812, Anthony returns home to find that his older brother has died, placing Anthony next in line to inherit the estate. But he’s not ready for such responsibilities. And when Anthony’s dying father pleads with him to marry and produce an heir to preserve the family title, it nearly sends Anthony over the edge; nevertheless he dutifully faces a long line of hopeful young ladies who await him. No one grabs his attention, though, like Amelia Clarke, his mother’s stunning companion, who is off-limits for the earl. But when Anthony unwittingly puts Amelia in a compromising situation, he dedicates himself to protecting her reputation.

But the horrors Anthony faced while away from home have left him feeling broken and tormented. And Anthony finds himself drawn to Miss Clarke, the only one who can chase away his demons, but he must overcome the hostility of a society driven by class, a jealous duke bent on revenge, and himself—for could Amelia ever really love a haunted man?

Here is the schedule for the tour:

 *May 9th: http://literarytimeout.blogspot.com/, http://www.wishfulendings.com/, http://mybookaday.blogspot.com/, http://ldswritermom.blogspot.com/

*May 10th: http://www.singinglibrarianbooks.com/index.html, http://lisaisabookworm.blogspot.com/, http://gettingyourreadonaimeebrown.blogspot.com/, http://www.rockinbookreviews.com/

*May 11th: http://bonnieharris.blogspot.com/, http://heidi-reads.blogspot.com/, http://melsshelves.blogspot.com/

 *May 12th: http://katiescleanbookcollection.blogspot.com/, http://ldsandlovinit.blogspot.com/, https://atransparentmom.com/

*May 13th: http://booksaresanity.blogspot.com/, http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/, http://thethingsilovemost.com/, http://www.kindleandme.com/

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Captain Is Out! Come Win Some Prizes

The Captain is finally out and I'm so excited to share this story with you!

You can read the first chapter here

To celebrate this momentous event, I am offering THREE awesome prizes.

1.  A $30 Amazon gift card

2.  A Book Lovers Basket filled with books, treats, and black and white items every book lover needs.

3.  An autographed print set of my award-winning Hostage Negotiation series (4 Books!)

So come party with me! *throws confetti*

a Rafflecopter giveaway
(Basket and Book Prizes open to continental U.S. residents only)

Friday, May 6, 2016

Win A Free Autographed Copy of My New Book!

I love that graphic because there are so many gray areas for the characters in my new novel, The Captain. Can you believe it's being released in two days? I'm so excited!

To celebrate, I'm giving away three autographed print copies. You can click here to enter!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Conferences & Patriotic Events

I had a crazy busy day today! I was a presenter at the ULA conference today with Tara C. Allred and then we had a book signing. I love chatting with book people! They are my tribe.

Then, I rushed back home to make it in time for my daughter's Patriotic Program. It always brings a tear to my eye because it honors the military and first responders who so often go unsung. And it has some really touching and catchy tunes to sing. Unfortunately, there was a huge crush of people afterward. I've never feared getting trampled until today! Thankfully there wasn't a panic as we slowly inched toward the doors. Here's a picture:

See what I mean?

So, even though it was busy, I got to do two of my favorite things---spend time with people who love books and people that I love!  

Did you do anything fun today?